When it comes to smart technology, the first examples that come to mind are megalopolises like Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Dubai. But there is a fast-growing smart hub here in Europe. Scandinavian countries are quickly implementing a variety of smart solutions in every possible sphere — from public transit to education. What are the good examples we can look up to? And how can we learn from their experience with intelligent technologies? Let’s find out!
What drives the smart revolution in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway?
It’s not a surprise that the Scandinavian region is leading the smart transformation in Europe. Their population is highly technologically literate and expects the governments to act in this direction. What’s more, these countries have pledged to contribute in a major way towards the European carbon neutrality scheme (Copenhagen even aims to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025). Sustainability has become an intrinsic part of the thinking in the region which, combined with the socially proactive citizens, is a major driving force for innovation at all levels. Finally, transparent procurement programs have helped governments attract top minds in the sustainability field from a global pool of innovators.
Which are the best smart examples from Scandinavian countries?
A single article, no matter how long, won’t be enough to list all of the smart achievements that make the Scandinavian region such a great place to live. To make our point, we’ve picked a handful of standout examples that will help you understand the innovation landscape — further reading is advised!
This beautiful country is on its way to significantly improve living standards and reduce harmful emissions in many ways.
40% of energy consumption globally comes from buildings. Sensors that control lighting, heating, and cooling can drastically improve the energy efficiency of a building (as well as proper insulation), and Norway is investing heavily in this type of innovation. Stringent energy use requirements for new builds, as well as a program for government-funded construction projects, have paved the way for the mass introduction of smart sensors even in private homes. This technology is becoming more and more accessible.
Open data is one of the prerequisites for building a truly smart ecosystem. Norway is at the forefront of open data sharing with its national registry for the public sector. It includes data about traffic, agriculture, demographics, and many more. This registry lets entrepreneurs make informed decisions in their day-to-day business, helping them build more sustainable products that reflect the needs of the citizens. MaaS integrations are only one such example. This public-private relationship provides the basis for an improved living standard for the whole population of the country.
Oslo: MaaS innovations
Oslo transit authority, Ruter, has pledged to become emission-free by 2028. At the heart of this pledge lies the shared mobility dream of each MaaS innovator — mobility hubs that offer reserved parking (priority is given to electric cars), bikes, and more. This will facilitate moving around the city without the use of personal vehicles, thus reducing emissions and creating a healthier environment in terms of cleaner air, less stress, and fitter citizens.
What’s more, a massive sustainable project is underway near Oslo. Oslo Airport City will be a 1 million sq. m. commercial hub powered by sustainable energy.
Denmark is also on its way to becoming green in many aspects — as a consequence of using smart tech. Copenhagen and Aarhus are the two cities that stand out, but many smaller communities are already benefiting from a variety of intelligent solutions.
Copenhagen: world’s first carbon-neutral capital
Copenhagen has set the bar high — but having in mind the steps the city is taking, the ‘world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025’ doesn’t seem like an impossible feat. More than 250 businesses are taking an active part in this endeavour, and open data is again at the heart of innovation. Smaller businesses & start-ups can take advantage of great incentives and public-private relationships are thriving to the benefit of citizens. The end goal is for the city to become completely fossil-fuel independent by 2050!
Aarhus: public-owned citywide LPWAN
Aarhus is one of the innovators in this field — and one of the first cities that implemented such an extensive LPWAN. This allows devices and sensors to connect from long distances and at a lower cost. In a test setting in their City Lab, these sensors provide valuable information about different metrics like temperature and humidity. They can also track human behaviour (completely anonymized) to optimize the city based on the needs of its citizens.
Sweden is home to the first European green capital. An amazing mix of R&D clusters, never-ending tech opportunities, and renewable energy, it is moving steadily towards being one of the most sustainability-led countries in the world. Sweden is also very proactive in working with global innovators to bring the best of smart technologies as quickly as possible. The business atmosphere attracts many big names in the industry, but also many startups.
Smart City Sweden
An integral part of the government’s approach to sustainability is Smart City Sweden — a state-funded national export and investment platform for smart and sustainable city solutions. This organization is located in Hammarby Sjöstad, a living lab, and platform for urban projects in key sustainability areas: renewable energy projects, smart waste management, electric vehicles, water management, and even a citizens’ communication platform.
Gothenburg: low carbon mobility
Gothenburg is a relatively small city but it compensates for its size with its enormous drive to become a green innovator. This drive helped position the city as no. 1 for sustainability and innovation in the Global Sustainability Index 2017 of world cities. Its approach includes a variety of strategies to help reduce carbon emission from mobility: low-emission zones for heavy vehicles, emission-free electric busses, and cars running on renewable biogas being only a few of them.
What is the common thread that unites Scandinavian countries in their approach to smart innovation? For us, it’s clearly rooted in data sharing with a human-first approach. All three countries (and even their neighbours) are always putting the long-term wellbeing of their citizens first and foremost — industrial and political gains are a collateral effect. What we can learn from them is a voracious appetite for innovation and how to achieve the transparency needed for citizens to trust that smart investments benefit the whole community. We can also steal their approach to open data — it’s the best there is!