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Helsinki rephotography

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Ajapaik rephoto walk in Helsinki with schoolchildren on March 1st, 2018
Vahur Puik demonstrates how Ajapaik Android app works at Helsinki City Museum.
Helsinki Rephotography second round application in English
2022-10-12 Helsinki Rephotography final presentation at 22.10.2022 slides in Finnish

In Helsinki Rephotography, Helsinki citizens will rephotograph open licensed or public domain historical images with a smartphone application. The photographic activity encourages physical exercise as well as lets the users contribute openly available photography for anyone to use. Historical photos will be geotagged as a byproduct. The project starts in November 2018 and ends in 2021. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in Finland we have focused on online and independent photography and we are continuing with that. We will also concentrate on storing crowdsourced data and photos in Wikimedia Commons and to use the photographs and other content in Wikipedia.

Background of the grant


The purpose of the hobbies/exercise grant is to contribute to the achievement of the City of Helsinki’s strategic goals of increasing physical activity and promoting low threshold hobbies for children and young people through new types of operating models and partnerships in joint projects between actors in sports, culture and youth activities., Background: Grant for promoting physical activity and hobbies

Year 3 - Kronos & Topos -wikiproject

  • Roles: Kimmo Virtanen (PM), Nanna Saarhelo (live events, communication), Vahur Puik (Ajapaik), Märt Häkkinen (coding)
  • Partners: Estonian Photographic Heritage Society

Our pilot project for 2021 is Kronos & Topos (Time & Place). It includes Wikipedia articles of places, events and artists related to Helsinki Biennial, an international contemporary art event organized by the City of Helsinki and covering maritime history and places in Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari (12.6.–26.9.2021) outside Helsinki. Helsinki Biennial will be organized in these same previously closed military islands, which belong to the same fortification system as the Unesco World Heritage site Suomenlinna. Islands were opened to the public in 2016. The Helsinki rephotography project has been already documenting the change of these places, formerly with minimally occupied human population, proceeding to tourist attraction, like the rest of Suomenlinna.

This would allow us to experiment with a wide range of content, relevant to Wikipedists. Concrete target in Wikipedia is to create a wikiproject which would improve general information on the islands, its most important physical locations and buildings to Wikidata and OpenStreetMap. Third target is to write or update articles of the 40 artist of the Helsinki Biennale 2021.

As the current coordinator Nanna Saarhelo is a graduating art teacher we are preparing online ”how-to” rephotography materials in addition to publishing content that focuses on the history of Helsinki. These will be spread through contacting cultural institutions as well as campaigning in social media. We are also planning to contact teachers about possibilities of learning by combining history and visual culture through rephotography. One area of interest could also be the educational basics of copyrights and open licenced materials.

Technical focus is in continuing and improving the integration between the Ajapaik platform and Wikimedia Commons structured data in terms of using data from Commons in Ajapaik so that users could geotag and annotate data in Ajapaik and the result would be saved to Wikimedia Commons.

2018-04-20 summary


Tens of thousands of historical photos of Helsinki have been shared under free licences during the last few years. Inspired by the success of Pokémon GO, this project will invite people to go out in search of the locations of the photos and create then-and-now photographs of Helsinki on their mobile phones. This is called rephotography (or repeat photography).

Rephotography is suitable for everyone, it activates people to have physical activity outdoors by giving them a reason to search new locations. It also offers health-enhancing physical activity for people who aren’t interested in traditional sports via offering intellectual and cultural reasons for the activity. For example overweight young people who have had bad experiences of sports at school and adults who are in risk groups for lifestyle diseases. For older people it offers a way to share their knowledge of the past.

For casual users there are photos taken at a scenic spot, for example, and so it’s worthwhile to visit the place and the photo shows the change that has happened over the years. Alternatively an old photo can reveal details that just visiting the spot can’t, like events that have taken place there or the original use of a building. It allows users to use rephotography for self-expression and sharing interesting images and places with others.

To make moving more goal-oriented, the user will get feedback from the platform. It will thank user for finding and confirming the location of the historical photos, posting interesting photos which got a lot of views, when the user’s photo is used in Wikimedia. The system will keep stats to show your achievements and to show that the grand goal is a group effort that is achieved together.

Our role model is a crowdsourced geotagging and rephotography project Ajapaik that has been developed in Estonia using historical photos (mainly from public collections). Our plan is to use the Ajapaik platform for browsing the photos and rephotographing old photos of Helsinki.


  • Wikimedia Finland is Finnish Wikimedia chapter and leading the project
  • The Estonian Photographic Heritage Society is author of the open source smartphone application Ajapaik Android and crowdsourcing platform Ajapaik.ee. It has years of experience in crowdsourced targeting of the location of old photographs.
  • Wikidocumentaries is project in Finland that establishes a micro-history platform and arranges meetups for local history. The participants are individuals, cultural and educational operators, and associations gathering local history.


  • Idea was tested in Wiki Loves Monuments 2018 in Finlands as a track
  • Project got 52 000 € grant from city of Helsinki for period 2018-11-01 to 2019-10-30.
  • Project got 14 000 € grant from Wikimedia Finlands SAPG2018 and SAPG2019 for period 2018-11-01 to 2019-10-30
  • Project got 47 000 € grant from city of Helsinki for period 2019-11-01 to 2020-10-30.
  • Project got 14 000 € grant from Wikimedia Finlands SAPG2019 and SAPG2020 for period 2018-11-01 to 2019-10-30
  • Project got 47 000 € grant from city of Helsinki for period 2020-11-01 to 2022-05-31
  • Project got 16 300 € grant from Wikimedia Finlands SAPG2020 and SAPG2021 for period 2019-11-01 to 2020-12-31



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