Human-Centred Voice-enabled Symptom Monitoring & Urban Mobility Services for Travelers and Vulnerable Residents in Helsinki & Tallinn

Voice for Urban Mobility is a proposed collaborative research project that seeks to offer voice-enabled symptom monitoring and urban mobility services via mobile apps and public kiosks to vulnerable residents and travelers between Helsinki and Tallinn. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and urban crisis, there is a need for responsive, inclusive and accessible services to residents and travelers to assess their ecological health and well-being, adopt effective urban behavioral changes, and support safe mobility across cities to mitigate these effects.

This project would provide secure personalized voice-enabled services for travelers and families to monitor their collective symptoms in Urban Well-being Diaries, while assessing ecological measures of physical, mental and urban well-being in their daily lives. It would guide travelers and vulnerable residents (esp. patients, elderly, migrants, and the disabled) in seeking health and urban mobility services via mobile apps and Urban Voice Portals installed at critical public sites.

Voice-enabled interaction can greatly improve accessibility, engagement, speed, retention and compliance for real-time data capture and information access, from transit services (ferry/train reservations) to tracking personal health. In the urban context of the COVID-19 crisis, voice-based services can reduce unnecessary physical contactwith both essential workers and public devices, while offering safer modes of spoken interaction to commute and access city information services.

Our project seeks to demonstrate the effectiveness of voice interaction for monitoring of symptoms and ecological well-being, as well as personalized location-based access to essential health, mobility and urban services. Through secure mobile apps and voice portals installed in heavily-visited public places like libraries, train stations, ferry ports, health clinics and markets in Helsinki and Tallinn, it offers safe and responsive ways to travel and engage with health, well-being and urban services.

Expected Outcomes and Impact of Activity on Economy and Society

The project builds on research in multi-modal voice interaction, human-centred design, and digital healthcare in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University, in partnership with two innovative companies in Finland and Estonia. Speechly is a pioneering Helsinki-based voice software startup that has developed proprietary speech recognition technology and natural language understanding to support innovative and multi-modal voice-enabled user experiences. Trinidad Wiseman OÜ is a user experience (UX) design, business analysis and software development company, with expertise in designing mobile apps and public kiosks, based in Tallinn, Estonia and the largest in the Baltic region. In close consultation with the City of Helsinki and Tallinn, the team will design, develop and deploy a demonstration of the Voice for Urban Mobility project with participating residents, travelers and public sites in both cities.

Two inter-related voice-enabled products/services will be offered, initially using English and Finnish voice interaction (later additional languages may be added):

Urban Well-being Diaries for travelers and families (esp. children, patients, elderly and disabled) to easily capture, monitor and assess symptoms related to COVID-19, with ecological measures of physical, mental health and urban well-being. A multi-modal mobile app would offer personalized user profiles, engaging visual and conversational interaction, and real-time visualization for guidance on health, behavior change and urban mobility. 

Urban Voice Portals for personalized information access to location-based city services related to health, well-being and mobility. These will be offered via the mobile app and also on voice-centric digital kiosks in 2-3 participating sites like libraries, train stations, ferry ports, health clinics and markets in both Helsinki and Tallinn. They will provide travelers and vulnerable residents with safe, responsive and intuitive conversational access to essential services, reducing the need for human proximity or physical contact.

Stakeholder interviews, User Experience (UX) research, and Participatory Design (PD) will be conducted with participants and city agencies in Helsinki and Tallinn in the early stages of the project to devise concrete functional requirements, design criteria, concepts and technology components to be developed for these voice-enabled mobile applications and public kiosks as part of the Voice for Urban Mobility platform.

All data on the mobile devices and kiosks would be encrypted to protect user privacy; secure data sharing could be supported with healthcare providers or city agencies using MyData, human-centric data sharing principles, adopted by Finland and Estonia. Improving well-being and safe mobility within and across the countries clearly have crucial economic benefits.

A proposal for the EIT Urban Mobility initiative’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Call. More details: http://voiceformobility.org