Gothenburg, it’s a Smart City.
Gothenburg is recognised globally as a top ranking Smart City. Now, the local Smart City ecosystem is coming together to enable Gothenburg to be a world leading collaborative city for a sustainable future. You can be part of it, in fact, it’d be really great if you were.
It may come as a surprise to some locals, but Gothenburg regularly tops the Smart City global rankings. It’s not simply Law of Jante enforced humility that creates this reaction. Like every city, there is a lot of room for Gothenburg to become smarter. Even the best of them, get lost in the midst of criticism associated with the housing, mobility and social inclusion issues synonymous with rapid urban growth. Nonetheless, Gothenburg has enviable Smart City credentials and the foundations to drive global excellence in the Smart City space for years to come.
What does it mean to be a leading Smart City?
There is no agreed definition of what constitutes a “Smart City” but parameters include:
Smart energy: cost-effective, sustainable energy systems in which energy production, infrastructure and consumption are coordinated and integrated through energy services or technologies.
Smart mobility: modes of transportation which offer alternatives to traditional gas fuelled private vehicle usage including ride-sharing, car-sharing, e-scooters, public transportation, cycling and walking. Mobility is currently the biggest single driver of Smart City development. It presents an obvious and visible challenge for crowded urban environments. Gothenburg’s heritage makes it primed to lead in innovative mobility services.
Smart buildings: cost-effective and productive buildings optimised through structures, systems, services and management typically including automated processes to control the building's operations such as air conditioning, ventilation, heating, lighting, access and security.
Smart healthcare: services and products that lead to better diagnostics, optimal treatment for patients, devices that improve quality of life and superior experiences for all stakeholders involved in the provision of healthcare.
Smart governance: using technology to facilitate and support governmental planning and decision making through improvements to the democratic processes and transformative enhancements to the delivery of public services.
Smart infrastructure: using embedded sensing technologies in infrastructure and related equipment to allow for real-time data acquisition, analysis and optimisation.
What makes Gothenburg a world leading Smart City?
District Heating Systems Thinking: Gothenburg bases 60% of its district heating on waste/recycled heat. In Gothenburg, 90% of all buildings are heated using district heating, while the corresponding figure for the EU is 12%. Find out more…
IRIS Smart City: IRIS is a Lighthouse project which consists of three European cities: Utrecht, Nice and Gothenburg. The focus is on energy-positive areas, smart energy management, smart e-mobility, an innovation platform for digital cities, residents involvement and co-creation. Find out more…
Smarta Kartan: The recently released Smart Map encourages citizen engagement by gathering all the places you can rent, exchange, borrow, share, give and get in Gothenburg. Find out more…
Open Data: Open data accelerates the development of Smart Cities by connecting the people most capable of creating Smart City solutions with the data needed to generate and support them. Find out more…
Digital Twin of Gothenburg: Min Stad is a 3D city model which can be used by developers, architects and planners to host public consultations, anticipate the impact of future development and make better-informed decisions. Find out more…
In addition to these world leading initiatives there are a great many solutions at concept or proof of concept stage. However, beyond the hype it can sometimes be less obvious to citizens how they are benefiting from current Smart City initiatives today.
How can Gothenburg continue to rank as world leading collaborative city?
As the Smart City hype translates into reality, different types of Smart City model emerge. Singapore, China and South Korea are leading the way in terms of technology driven innovation. The Scandinavian model for Smart Cities leans more towards a focus on citizens’ rights, social inclusion and sustainability. How can Gothenburg be a global leader in these areas?
Interviews conducted in May 2019, as part of research into the current state of Gothenburg as a Smart City, shone light on some of the things holding the city back:
“There seems to be a lot going on but there is perhaps a lack of awareness.”
“The environmental goals are admirable but lofty. Can agile methodologies be used break these down into something more tangible?”
“When it comes to urban development, a lot of collaboration is based around ad hoc projects rather than devoted ongoing Research and Development initiatives. Can the public sector or NGO’s bridge this gap?“
“There needs to be better co-creation of common resources based on overlapping needs such as ‘circular data’“
“Smart Cities should be looked at from the bottom-up as a means of providing transparency for your impact as a citizen”
“Collaboration needs financing - it is ultimately a problem of getting the money to the right people.”
“Public funding is under pressure, inflexible, works on long term timeframes and is siloed between actors with competing priorities”.
Public-private-people-partnerships, innovative citizen engagement and investment attraction have all been flagged as areas where Gothenburg could improve.
The way forward: a smarter ecosystem
When it comes to Smart Cities everything is connected and fits into an ecosystem. Ecosystems need collaboration, and there is a spirit of collaboration in Gothenburg unlike anywhere else. The Gothenburg Smart City ecosystem needs to come closer together.
The following five focus areas have emerged as challenges that Gothenburg’s citizens, agencies, entrepreneurs, academics, local government, building technology providers and investors can rally together around:
1) Innovate the city infrastructure for transportation and waste management to cope with a growing population.
2) Address the social inclusion impacts of inadequate central housing stock.
3) Address the moral aspect of Smart Cities e.g. impact on privacy.
4) Create a “contributable city” focused on understanding the motivations and needs of citizens to engage with smart services.
5) Create meeting spaces and decentralised leadership to drive multi-stakeholder initiatives forward.
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