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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

Nordic Smart and Sustainable Cities – Part Two

In the first part of this series, we showed the different strategies and visions of some of the most iconic smart cities in the Nordic region.

Today, we continue our quest to discover another five approaches taken by cities to become smarter and more sustainable.

Step by Step – Gothenburg (Sweden)

The second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries is set to become a sustainable city that’s open to the world by 2022. The set year is not random either, as Gothenburg is celebrating its 400 years anniversary in 2021.

The City of Gothenburg has been on the journey to realise its vision starting in 2009 when they engaged citizens, perspective groups, administrations, companies, associations, organisations, academia and industry in an open dialog about the future.

Next, in 2012 they were able to put together the city’s vision for the future and 2013 was the year that they started to put words into action with the beginning of a number of pilot projects.

An interesting aspect of the city’s strategy is how it is put to practice. Each year, the city has been focusing on a large theme like Water and archipelagos, Of the young, or on Culture.

The Green and Pleasant City theme is focused on building green corridors and oases that will connect the whole city. Gothenburg Green World project was launched in 2016 and is aimed to inspire organic farming and ecological lifestyle.

In the years to come, the City of Gothenburg is planning to strengthen and grow its international relationships, put a focus on knowledge and information and stay on track to become an example for others aiming for sustainable growth.

Investing in the Future – Helsinki (Finland)

Helsinki is the largest Finnish city and the capital of the country, home to almost 60 000 inhabitants. Its vision is to become an open city through digital services and urban innovations by engaging the municipality with private companies, other public sector organisations and the citizens. Forum Virium is the city’s innovation unit that carries out numerous projects to be implemented across Helsinki.

The projects and there are a lot of them, are integrated into six large themes focusing on open data, smart urban development, empowering innovation, cities interoperability and challenge competition.

One of the most outstanding initiatives running in Helsinki is Smart Kalasatama, focusing on urban development and promising to save residents one hour per day. The premise is that digital solutions will improve not only the quality of life in the city, but also buy citizens extra personal time.  

The City of Helsinki has also been committed to increasing the transparency of city’s decision making. Since 2013, Open Ahjo API has made City of Helsinki’s decision making documents available from one source in a machine-readable format.

In addition to the presented Smart City initiatives, also new agents for change, the Code Fellows have been introduced to the city organization, via the Code for Europe program. The aim is to bring new crucial tech talent to the city organisation via the talented Code Fellows. The Code Fellows promote making new public datasets open, building new online services for the city residents, as well encouraging the utilisation of freely accessible development tools within the city organisation.

A Green Municipality – Sønderberg (Denmark) – ProjectZero

This Danish municipality is located in Southern Denmark, 300 km away from Copenhagen and 200 km drive from Hamburg, Germany.

The city has ambitious carbon reduction goals which are being achieved through ProjectZERO, as it aims to become zero-carbon by 2029 while creating sustainable growth and new jobs in the green sector.

In figures, the city is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020 and completely phase them out by 2029. By 2014 the City had already reduced CO2 emissions by 30%, five percent more than the established target and one year earlier than predicted.

Roadmap2020 is a specific proposal for how the Sønderberg area can achieve its ambitious 2020 goal through market-based partnerships that accelerate the transition and kick-start new development projects.

The strategy put together under Roadmap2020 consists of six big concepts: Community & Citizens, Businesses, Public Sector, SmartGrid, Bio-Economy and Green Transportation.

Three focus segments are based on the Roadmap2015 learning: Community & Citizens, Business and the Public Sector. Each of the focus segment programs have been reviewed and fine-tuned to maximise impact based on value creation, networks and cross-sector synergies for the Roadmap2020.

For the SixBigConcepts to work, it requires commitment and active stakeholder participation within and outside the Sønderborg area. Therefore, Roadmap2020 is an open platform for all interested stakeholders to participate and benefit from. Bright Green Business and learning potential will occur from growth as a result of new partnerships, technology development and implementation towards 2020.

Increased Efficiency – Reykjavik (Iceland)

Iceland’s capital and largest city, is developing smart city projects that will include more efficient transport, improved operations, increased environmental awareness and better use of energy.

When it comes to improving the transport system, the city has introduced a public transportation app for city buses which is known under the name of Straetó in the greater Reykjavík area and was launched in November 2014. The project has been a great success. The app has been downloaded 85,000 times which is a major feat in a country with only 330,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, the app has attracted new customers to use the buses which can only be a good thing.

Reykjavik is also focused on improving their operations through LUKR. LUKR is an abbreviation for Landupplýsingakerfi Reykjavíkur (The Land Information System of the Reykjavík Area). This is a joint GIS-system of the municipal technical departments of the city of Reykjavik, plus the state-owned Telecommunications of Iceland, including the entire public utilities system in Reykjavik, like cold water, hot/geothermal water, electricity, telecommunication, sewage, buildings, street curbs, street centerlines, parcel boundaries, coastlines with lakes and rivers, contour lines etc.

In terms of energy supply, the city is connected to the Reykjavik energy company that produces electricity, mainly by harnessing geothermal energy, to more than half of the population of Iceland. The company is a world leader in the utilisation of geothermal energy and produces electricity and geothermal water for heating. Renewable power sources account for more than 70% of the total primary energy consumption in Iceland, far higher than anywhere else in the world. The Reykjavik district heating utility is the largest geothermal district heating utility in the world.

The municipality is well aware that doing things for the people would make no difference if the people are not involved. Better Reykjavík is an online consultation forum where citizens are given the chance to present their ideas on issues regarding services and operations of the City of Reykjavík. Anyone can view the open forum and registered users who approve the terms of participation can participate in the forum.

Together for a Green Future – Bærum (Norway)

The City of Bærum is located in the suburbs of Oslo and the municipality has been voted the best Norwegian place to live when considering governance and public services to citizens according to Dagbladet, Norway’s second largest newspaper.

Its smart city strategy is focused on limiting greenhouse gas emissions by developing new technologies, procedures and organisational measures to establish “green” solutions. At the same time, they want to promote more environmentally friendly and profitable business development. Focus is put on the citizens as well, as the new solutions must be as easy to use and effective as possible so that citizens will want to use them.

No wonder the city’s vision is called ‘Profitable interaction for a green future’.

The way they chose to accomplish their vision is through Public Private Partnerships between the municipality and the private sector in Bærum. The main goals of these partnerships are to reduce technical energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The largest projects running in the City of Bærum include Bærum City Bike, Smart Transport Fornebu, Smart Parking, and The battle for time.

Another successful project taking place in Bærum is the European Cycling Challenge which the city joined in 2014. Within this project, citizens were invited to cycle instead of using car or other powered vehicles. The competition lasted for 31 days, and at the end, a heat map showing all the cycling routes helped the municipality to analyse strategic cycle routes in cycle planning.


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