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Street smart cities

Connectivity is one important aspect of a smart city, often described in ICT systems*. Trying to be smart, cities are becoming more liveable and more responsive. That said every city has to develop its own smart city strategy because the starting platform may differ so widely. Still, there are two things smart cities almost always have in common: Knowhow in big data use and involving the locals (citizens and local businesses) in the innovation projects.

Cities striving to be smart are all over the globe; some of them are Shanghai, Los Angeles, Gothenburg, Dubai, Hamburg, Bogotá, Bristol, Singapore and further on. There are also cooperation and co-labs between many cities to help each other to evolve. This article points out three excelling cities.

Shanghai, sustainable growth

Shanghai is home to 24 million people, and counting. Today the city is already on its third smart city strategic plan. Current priorities are about rapid urban growth and service delivery, land and energy limitations, as well as inclusion of residents.

In Shanghai outputs from collaborative workshops brought together key industry practitioners, academia and government representatives to discuss the scope of a smart city. Today this has evolved into a plentiful of smaller projects.

Multilayered co-living

MINI Living is creating the first co-living project in China, transforming an unused industrial complex in the Shanghai Jing’An district. The project is aiming to create a multi-layered co-living area made up of apartments, working spaces and cultural/leisure possibilities. The project has explored habitat concepts that seek to maximise quality of life within minimal spaces.

– We are rethinking the idea of living space in the city and developing attractive, need-oriented living concepts. Our aim is to offer an extremely high quality of life within an extremely small area, says Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the board of BMW AG (including the Mini brand).

Hamburg, interconnecting citizens

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, with 1.8 million inhabitants in the city and almost 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. In 2014 the city set out to build the Hamburg version of a smart city.

In Hamburg, one of the outstanding energy projects is the smart heating island. It consists of a combined heat and power production (CHP) unit that serves heating power for a cultural centre, a hotel and 50 housing units. And this is just one of many lean, clean and green smaller projects, backed by innovative-driven industry and academia. But there is also one quite large project.

Inner city development

HafenCity (HarbourCity) is currently Europe’s largest inner city development project. Here, city leaders plan pilot projects including an integrated e-mobility solution to help reduce and optimise traffic by offering alternative ways of transportation in a car-sharing model. Further on, a smart building solution will be tested. Together with other industry leaders, such as Philips, AGT International and others, Cisco built four networks to develop a fibre optic backbone. And a broader network throughout the port supports 300 sensors for roadways and for incoming ship traffic.

Gothenburg, sustainable mobility

Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, seeing a transformation in the next 30 years that dramatically will change city life. There have never before been so many construction projects as now, including railroad investments, tunnel projects, road and bridge construction as well as the ongoing densification of the city.

The Volvo brand and the city Gothenburg are very closely tied together. As headquarter location for both Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, the city has for quite a few years collaborated with its auto industry to be a world leader in test beds for transports and mobility. Named the world leader for sustainability and innovation in the 2017 Global Sustainability Index of world cities, Gothenburg is also rapidly transforming towards a low carbon economy.

Today Gothenburg is already managing full-scale projects of autonomous cars and smaller electric commuter buses. Other projects are autonomous trucks, electric roads, smart grids for public transportation and much more. The hopes are that the growth of the city can be dealt with by smart solutions.

The key to smartness

Collaboration between city officials, industry and academia generates sustainable innovations in energy, mobility as well as information and communication technologies (ICT). As a team, industry is the hardware provider and the academia comes up with viable input for innovation. And the local politicians must be agile and adept, so that the new technology really is used to bring good for all. This is true in Gothenburg, as in every other city claiming to be smart. Collaboration creates an inclusive and sustainable city that is highly attractive to both citizens and businesses. Thus building a lean, clean and green future.


Fast facts:

Smart city = City improving life and possibilities for its people by using interconnecting technology and data.

*ICT = Information and Communications Technologies, the joint application of modern digital hard- and software building future infrastructure of society.

IoT = Internet of Things, interlacing software into hardware so that it can communicate with us and interact with other hardware.



A McKinsey report




European Union:


– Keys for a successful industry