In the European Union, Norway stands among nations that are advancing development by keeping citizens at the core. With this ‘citizentric’ perspective, Norway has come a long way in reaching its smart city goals. Alongside, the majority of the population comprise of technologically literate people to adopt future’s energy-saving innovation. Amidst these, also lies the public sector’s performance in implementing rigorous procurement requirements to foster innovation and sustainability.
Norway’s capital Oslo is transforming the energy-use landscape to address climate change. And today, we are unveiling its progress while also looking inside interesting initiatives of other less known smart cities of Norway.
Towards the Vision Zero Goal
Recently, the International Transport Forum reviewed the performance of 41 countries in the Road Safety Annual Report 2019. In this, it frequently discusses Norway’s progress. The nation has reduced traffic deaths by 50% between 2010 and 2017 – the number falling from 208 to 107. Last year Norway witnessed zero pedestrian or cyclist deaths. The only traffic death that occurred was when a driver ran his car into a fence.
One of the primary reasons for this success is Oslo’s car-free city centre approach. This had improved safety and reduced congestion and emissions. Years ago, the city was already known as the bike-friendly city. But, this status has more risen since it increased car-free efforts twofold.
It is now more difficult to drive a car into the city. The city government made a decision to provide a lot more resources to grow bicycle infrastructure across the city. Trude Rauken, deputy director for the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) stated to Smart Cities Dive. The city has increased bike lanes and sidewalks, enhanced bike share and removed 1000 parking spaces. It has also banned cars in some downtown areas. Furthermore, public transit has also become an attractive mode of commuting. Because the city is applying a data-driven approach to increase stop frequency and customer satisfaction. It is bringing electric buses and enabling contactless fare payments. In fact, by 2021, Oslo expects to have up to 50 autonomous buses on the road.
In another place, Bergen, the second-largest city of Norway, a multifaceted shared-mobility approach allows people to easily opt for it. The city designed 10 mobility hubs. Inside these hubs are reserved parking spaces for ride-sharing cars, especially electric ones. Then, there is access to electric vehicle chargers and secure bicycle parking. Moreover, for commuter’s convenience, these hubs are situated very close to public transport and other ride-sharing stops.
Lillestrøm Lesson To Attract People In Riding Bicycle
Apart from Oslo, Norway is supporting many car-free initiatives in its other cities. One of the interesting efforts is the construction of ‘Bicycle Hotels’ as part of its National Rail Administration Plan. The aim is to design an easy commutation way for people by connecting bikes and trains over cars. What could be better than unfolding this initiative by citing the efforts in Lillestrøm? The city is famous as the best city for bicycle riders. It’s because residents in the city have access to state-of-the-art bike shed in the world.
Adjacent to the city train station sits an attractive glass and wood shelter that can house 400 bikes. The place is known as the Lillestrøm Bicycle Hotel. Oslo-based architects designed the bicycle hotel to create an inviting public space. When this place is seen from outside, especially during the night, a glow of light filters through the glass walls. During the daytime, natural light filters through glass contributing to the small carbon footprint. There are even tiny holes in the glass panes to allow natural air ventilation.
With that, the staircase welcomes both locals and travellers up on a wooden roof. This place allows them to enjoy the city view by sitting on wooden benches. In addition, green space is also integrated to make it more appealing. More importantly, the design of the building provides a sense of security. The international magazine Wired called this as, “a serious – and seriously useful – a piece of urban infrastructure.”
When you need to store your bike at this bicycle hotel, you just need to send an SMS. Next, you receive a text with a phone number you can call to open the door of the hotel. Other cities that have bicycle hotels in Norway include Asker, Drammen, Gulskogen, Moss and Sandefjord. More such shelters are being added in other cities.
CityZEN Data For Citizens
There are a lot of data-gathering initiatives that are designed to benefit either the public or private sector or both. But those that benefit citizens are very few. Recognising how crucial is data privacy for citizens, a research team from the University of Oslo is working on this matter. The researchers are planning to develop citizen-centric services by taking advantage of streams of data gathered by private companies.
Named as ‘CityZEN’ this initiative is aiming at addressing the data privacy concern. It will enable citizens to have full control over their own data. Each individual will have the power of how they want to share their data and with whom. And they will also know the ways their data will be put to use. As per the research team, their project is based on a hypothesis that safe and secure data sharing and opens new doors of opportunities. This holds good for businesses, the public sector and more importantly, the citizens. The whole idea of the initiative is to make data available in the city in a manner that is in the best interest of the city and the citizens.
CityZEN is a major collaborative initiative led by Oslo and Stavanger. Both the cities will act as testing sites for safe and secure data sharing with citizens. For instance, data analytics can help ease traffic congestion. Notifying commuters of closure or maintenance work and navigating them to alternative routes can prevent gridlock.
Therefore, the CityZEN project is anticipated to lay the outline of a much-needed conscious city that meets the needs of citizens. This is particularly important when urban societies are rapidly digitising.
Testing IOTA In Trondheim
The city of Trondheim in Norway is a leading innovation hub. It is home to the nation’s largest university NTNU and Scandinavia’s largest independent research institute Sintef. And hence, the city has huge opportunities for tech startups to thrive. Going ahead, Trondheim in collaboration with eight tech companies is developing the city into the UN Centre for Sustainable Development. The idea is to deploy IOTA and the Tangle protocol within the Smart Cities. IOTA is a technology that plays an elemental role in the advancement of smart cities by facilitating secure data transfer via Tangle. The latter is a feeless interface that supports machine to machine micropayments.
Therefore, Trondheim will serve as a test site to expand the use of IOTA and the Tangle protocol. It will help other cities in achieving their UN sustainability goals. This is as per the vision of United 4 Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) committee, as part of the project. IOTA will be applied in a broad range of areas that will benefit citizens with decentralised data transfer ecosystem. This will include implementation in energy supply, waste management, and electric mobility. The technology will be able to track sustainable energy from places like buildings and vehicles.
Further, The Trondheim Municipality Centre will serve as a living lab to develop, test and demonstrate sustainable services and products. The research will then aid stakeholders in designing business models and services that can be adopted in other cities.