Smart Municipalities

Lots of municipalities have the opportunity to develop sustainable cities and communities for the future. At the same time, there are daily operations and legal tasks which cannot be prioritized less or outsourced. How realistic is it for a municipality to allocate time for development and innovation?

How many resources are needed to stay updated on sustainable development, on ICT trends like Big Data, IoT (internet of things), real time analytics, digitalization and sharing economy?

Energy, water, mobility, health, buildings and homes, public services and integration between the all are some of the central priority areas of a Smart City. Smart Innovation is working with Smart City-programs in many municipalities and cities in Norway, and collaborates with Smart City-networks in other European countries. We focus on both research and knowledge sharing to strengthen the sustainable and healthy development of cities and local communities.

To ensure that both ideas and development are anchored, the municipal political spokesperson and the councilman must be involved early in the process. In many municipalities, we have succeeded at broadly involving society. As a result, academia, inhabitants, businesses and the municipality all collaborate to create smart, sustainable solutions which benefit the whole community. This collaboration is what we call Quadruple Helix. It helps ensure that local and regional business development does not harm the climate or the environment.

Achieving smart municipalities is very much a journey. To succeed many players need to be willing to join it. The journey is about new thinking and new ways of working together across the different areas in society.

To be a decision maker in a municipality or a county means taking hard decisions, which can be unpopular, right, less right or wrong. It can be difficult to be in a media storm where a municipality or the decision maker is painted as the losing party.

This is very much about process.
Thor Moen, Head of Smart City and Communities

Smart Innovation’s process involves analyzing, designing and testing small scale solutions in pilots or small demos. Prototypes are large enough to demonstrate actual solution feasibility but small enough for decisions makers to dare to try. In other words, we dramatically reduce risks so that municipalities can safely test out new and innovative solutions.

When a Smart City program is established, we support the municipalities as a knowledge accelerator. We include them in RD&I projects, which means research close to businesses which will contribute with local and regional growth, workshops, conferences, international collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Municipalities that experiment with our Smart City program experience it as the right way to develop the community, and it turns out to be a great tool for both the political spokesperson and the councilman.

In this way, municipalities, in a Quadruple Helix collaboration, lead the sustainable development society wants.