In December 2018, Seequent Civil and Environmental, Customer Service Specialist, Ruby Forrester, was invited to take part in a hackathon in Helsinki on behalf of Seequent. The hackathon was specifically for a large infrastructure project that is currently still in the feasibility stages: The FinEst Link.

About the FinEst Link

The FinEst Link is a proposed railway tunnel project linking Helsinki Airport (Vantaa) in Finland to Tallinn airport in Estonia, with additional stops in both city centres. There is also a plan to build a new man-made island in the Gulf of Finland. The island will be a few kilometres off the southern coast of Finland and will be part of Finland.

It is estimated the FinEst Link could provide a 30 minute transit time between cities, and could enable a cross-border metropolitan area*. Nine million passengers, and four million tons of cargo move between the countries annually – currently serviced by predominantly by ferry.

One proposed plan puts the total length of the tunnel at 103km, making it the longest tunnel in the world. There is currently a plan for the Finnish and Estonian governments to complete the tunnel within the next 10 years. However, the Hackathon was organised by a private investor/group of investors, who would like to complete the tunnel within 6 years.

Map of FinEst Tunnel
The stops from South – North: Tallinn airport > Tallinn > Island > Helsinki > Helsinki airport (image Resources:

The Hackathon

The hackathon was held in Helsinki over a weekend and was attended by a wide variety of industries. This allowed for collaboration across a lot of different parts of the project, such as transport on the man-made island and how the island can be completely self-sustainable.

On the first day, Ruby was part of a group looking into effective and sustainable methods of transport on the Island.
“There were a lot of great ideas and we were encouraged to be as innovative as possible, regardless of whether the technology currently existed or not. I was able to add some input regarding the construction methodology of public transport,” explains Ruby.

On the second day, Ruby was part of a team which included participants from Trimble.
“Our aim was to showcase how software solutions can help on the project, not just on their own but also together, to create a streamlined workflow that would help this project to be completed within a significantly shorter timeframe than originally planned.”

Ruby was tasked with creating a geological model in Leapfrog Works with the limited data currently available at this stage of the project. The end goal was to export the geological model out of Leapfrog Works and input it into CAD packages and Trimble Connect, which was used as an example database for all the project data.

The data supplied to create the geological model included:

  • A Digital Elevation Map for the seabed of the Gulf of Finland between Helsinki and Tallinn
  • A draft map showing some of the proposed tunnel alignments
  • A geological cross section that was not georeferenced. This section also had a proposed tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki showing diameter and elevation.

Overcoming the data challenge

The biggest challenge Ruby faced was the lack of data, and knowledge of the geology. “Luckily, with Leapfrog Works I was able to use the limited data available to build a 3D model in just a few hours which easily exported from Leapfrog to Trimble Connect where it could be viewed in Trimble’s virtual reality system,” said Ruby.

FinEst combined model - tunnel and lithologies
FinEst combined model – tunnel and lithologies

As well as building the model, Ruby also showed how Leapfrog can be used to investigate the relationship between the proposed tunnel and the lithologies. Even with no designs, Leapfrog was able to create a rough representation of the volume of the tunnel from the proposed tunnel alignments and elevations from the map and the section. This showed all the lithologies that would be present along the tunnel alignment, as well as some indicative excavation volumes.

FinEst Geological model and cross section
FinEst Geological model and cross section

Ruby presented the model to hackathon attendees, including some key investors. The 3D model brought the project to life, making it easy to communicate the relationship between tunnel designs and the geology to stakeholders. It also demonstrated how Leapfrog Works can reduce time on a project interoperability with other solutions such as Trimble Connect, creating an integrated workflow.

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