Finnpark provides a wide range of parking-related services. The Finnish company operates its own car parks, but also provides other car park owners with services ranging from equipment supply to comprehensive parking management. It's all based on data that needs to be centralised from all systems and made comparable in one place.

I was more nervous about how useful Datalake would be to the end user. The views and content have been praised, also by our own employees who use the solution a lot.

Janne Mäenpää, Data and Systems Manager, Finnpark Oy

Finnpark's data warehouse, called Datalake, was born out of the company's own desire to develop both its service and its business. The data warehouse was built to perfection and is now also offered to other companies in the parking sector. Finnpark has boldly expanded its business into applications, both with the Moovy parking platform and the data warehouse it has developed. Finnpark's Datalake is used by operators such as Finavia, Tripla, Ratina, and city parking service providers such as Jyväs-Parkki. The common objective of these parking operators is to develop the services they offer or to improve the overall picture of key parking figures.

Data integration was the biggest challenge of the project

Although Finnpark's data warehouse was named Datalake with a capital D early on in the project, it is actually based on the Snowflake database solution. Finnpark did not have an integrated data warehouse solution, so designing the technical architecture was left to Knowit. The system was a big investment for Finnpark, but the aim was to build it as cost-effectively as possible. The scalability of the database was an important requirement. The visual analytics solution is Tableau.

As expected, the main challenge was to integrate source data from different locations. There are many different systems of different ages in the background, where data is available in very different ways. In addition, the data has been stored in local data centres in different locations. For the repository to work, data must be continuously available from source systems. The solution uses Amazon Web Service (AWS) services such as S3, Lambda and SNS, and CloudWatch for monitoring and alerts. These services, such as Snowflake as a data repository, operate in a serverless model, where the cloud service provider AWS ensures the availability of services and sufficient capacity. These services are paid for solely according to usage, which is also quite cost-effective.

"Among other things, a very challenging, German-language base structure was involved. The data was in very different formats, in various databases and behind several different API interfaces," describes Markus Ylikojola, Lead Analytics Engineer at Knowit.

Finnpark's Data and Systems Manager Janne Mäenpää was confident that Knowit would overcome the technical challenges.

"I was more nervous about how useful Datalake would be to the end user. The views and content have been praised, also by our own employees who use the solution a lot," says Janne Mäenpää.

Knowit has built and maintains data warehouse and integrations to source systems, like other parking operators. The building of the system was started in autumn 2019, and it has been in operation since spring 2020. Expansion and development work continues.

Knowit is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental considerations have also been taken into account in the development of this data warehouse. Data centre capacity is used only as much as is necessary, which saves the cost of processing data – both money and natural resources. With cloud services, capacity can be used exactly as needed, and resources that are used elsewhere at other times of the day can be utilised.

Long collaboration and genuine partnership helped the project succeed

Data visualisations have been done together for eight years. The joint Datalake project was started a couple of years ago, and it was decided that a proper basis for the data solution would be built.

The technical architecture was designed by a close-knit team of a few people. Knowit's involvement focused primarily on experts in cloud services and systems integration. The work has been sequenced so that at times Knowit has had more resources tied up with the Finnpark account.

"The aim was to make the project as agile as possible. There was no need to buy licenses for cloud-based services, so we could start the experiment with the customer in agreement and with a low threshold," Markus Ylikojola says.

Finnpark has been mainly represented by Janne Mäenpää and Chief Operating Officer Tami Koivuniemi. Views and reports have been created in collaboration with all Finnpark teams. Finnpark was pleased that the familiar contacts from the Solutive days remained in the team. Although Knowit does the implementation work, Finnpark's involvement has also been needed.

"I myself have wanted to develop my work in this direction. Developing Datalake has been interesting and instructive. It's nice to have designated key people at Cybercom (Knowit) and not always have to start from scratch. Cybercom (Knowit) has also gained expertise in the parking sector," says Janne Mäenpää.

Long-term cooperation and a genuine partnership were key factors in the success of the project. Both technical skills and personal chemistry must be in order. The project has also been particularly rewarding and motivating for Knowit.

"It has been a pleasure to work on this. Creating a new business is always exciting. When everyone is motivated and interested in the subject, you get a good result. I see enthusiasm for the subject as an important factor. When you get on well with the customer and get to use diamond technology, this is something you would do as a hobby," Markus Ylikojola praises.

Parking is important for the functioning of society

Although it may not be immediately obvious, the Moovy parking app plays a role in the functioning of society. Not only does it make parking easy and hassle-free for motorists on the move, but the data generated by the Moovy app also helps to make more efficient use of the infrastructure already in place.

Parking data tell us other important things about society. Finnpark has developed its own Parking Index, which measures all parking in Tampere and thus enables the evaluation of people's behaviour. The benchmark for normal is January 2019, compared to which the impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic on people's movement was very clear.

For Finnpark's own operations, Datalake and its use are of great importance. The data warehouse saves man-hours and has also brought marketing benefits, as the data solution has made an impression on parking operators.

Now that the foundation is in place and the data is well integrated, the repository will be refined into a data management tool. Already now, the 'Parking overview' view gives you a good overview of your own activities with just a few clicks.

"The investment is financially large and has a long payback period. We don't expect to get the money spent on development back from our customers, the other benefits are more important," says Janne Mäenpää.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation

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