Summer is a time for vacation, yet for many it is a time to plan a move to a new city due to a freshman year in new studies or a new job. An award-winning start-up, Choose Your Future, is publishing Know Your Hoods – search engine for neighborhoods in hoods.fi on July 11th to help people find the most suitable neighborhood to call their hoods. The service is also meant to inspire locals to get to know their home city, its different areas and fascinating stories making these hoods unique. The first beta-version includes 20 neighborhoods in Turku. During the summer and autumn, more areas are added and later the service will expand to other municipalities.
The first beta-version of the service was developed in connection with ‘Töihin tänne’ (Work in Southwest Finland) campaign by the Regional Council of Southwest Finland. The English version of the service was co-developed with Talent Turku, coordinated by Turku Science Park Ltd. In addition, University of Turku participated in the development through Open DaaS project. However, when Know Your Hoods sees the light of the (bright summer) day, the responsibility of further development falls on Choose Your Future.
“Know Your Hoods is designed to support people who are planning to move to consider what municipality and neighborhood would be right match with their needs. Our service is built around the users. They select search criteria that are the most important for them: what services should be close by, in what kind of environment they would like to live in, and what would be the suitable price range. Based on the selected criteria, the service suggests the most suitable neighborhoods. The user can familiarize themselves with relevant information about neighborhoods and real stories told by the the locals. Know Your Hoods utilizes several Open Data sources that serve as a basis for the descriptions of neighborhoods’ unique characteristics”, says Susanna Lahtinen, CEO of Choose Your Future and responsible for the service development.
“During the spring we have toured the events of the Turku Neighborhood Weeks and collected stories from the citizens. It has been incredibly gratifying to see the excitement of the locals and tenant associations about the upcoming service. In addition to people who are moving to Turku, we hope that both visitors and locals get to know the fascinating districts of Turku -first in Know Your Hoods, and then in real life. In the course of the creation of the service, I myself became fond of, for example, the lushness of Runosmäki, the atmosphere in Pääskyvuori and the colorful wooden houses in many of the old neighborhoods”, Susanna Lahtinen continues.
Know Your Hoods is developed based on empirical research data Choose
Your Future is a digital solutions provider from Turku with the focus on social integration. The start-up has previously won the Facebook Global Digital Challenge in 2016 and implemented the My mobile tutor app for new students in the University of Turku. The concept of Know Your Hoods service won the innovation competition organized by the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, which sought solutions to promote the attractiveness of the region.
An extensive study was conducted during the R&D stage of the service development in the Fall 2018. The study involved 400 people who have moved, or were considering moving, to southwestern Finland. The research investigated the factors influencing migration decisions, information search behavior, and satisfaction among Finnish and international migrants. Findings clearly showed that respondents require more information to support their decision-making. Respondents requested information specifically on locals’ experiences, services, shops, public transportation, planning, safety and noise levels.
“We were particularly pleased that 78% of respondents were satisfied with their decision to move to Southwest Finland! The common objective of the municipalities in the region is to develop Southwest Finland to be the best place to live and work”, says Janne Virtanen, Director for Promotion of Regional Interests at the Regional Council of Southwest Finland responsible for the coordination of the ‘Töihin tänne’ concept.
More than 50% of respondents were considering multiple different municipalities to move into. One of the main reasons for the development of the Know Your Hoods service is that currently migrants must retrieve the information separately from every municipality’s website and from other sources. Especially smaller municipalities may not even be known by name and thus may remain outside the choice range, even if they would perfectly meet the needs of the migrant. The study showed that migrants are seeking surprisingly little information on municipalities’ own websites (only 20%), as they are perceived to serve primarily local residents. This means that there is a genuine need for a service combining municipalities into one platform.