Terje Christensen is a serial entrepreneur and startup mentor, however he spent last years with creating Smart Cities Norway – Network. It is an open informal network that gathers members from civil society, municipalities, startups, research, businesses and government agencies. It consists of 185 organisations and 1.400 citizens. Terje is rigth person to discuss how a conservative world of municipalities and agile startup spirit can be mixed up right in his Smart Cities Norway – Network.
The 13th annual Smart Cities Summer School, organised by the Smart Cities Klub, was co-organised this year by the Slovak Embassy in Sweden, and it was held in Stockholm. We had the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of a big city, which being well managed, is not bustling with cars but with happy citizens. The city authorities are acutely aware of their responsibilities as managers, as well as the citizens, to the environment. We found it highly motivating. Read more
The Fifth annual conference “Slovakia towards Smart Cities“ was held on Tuesday, the 5th March 2019. Read more
Interview with Frans-Anton Vermast Strategy Advisor & international Smart City Ambassador of the City of Amsterdam and one of the speakers of the V4- Slovakia towards Smart Cities conference organized by Ministry of Economy and Smart Cities klub on 5th of March 2019 in Bratislava. Read more
Interview with Jacob Lundgaard, founder of Danish organization Gate 21.
Gate 21 is a successful organization with projects, which have currently worldwide impact. How did all this start? What were/are the key factors of your success?
In the beginning Gate 21 was an initiative about city renovation of public housing in Albertslund. There was going to be a lot of money invested in the renovation and the city would be renewed with high ambitions for the green transition. It was a 10 billion Danish crowns (1,3 billion euro) project.
It became a test lab for companies and researchers in the field of housing renovation and energy savings. We have put together city employees, researchers and companies and were looking for the best solutions. This concept led us to come up with the idea of the Gate 21 organization. 10 years later Gate 21 cooperates with 45 municipalities, lot of companies and universities. They all share experiences and look for innovative solutions for the cities. Gate 21 is a place where these actors could meet but also get help with financing and managing of their projects. We prepare projects, get financing and run projects.
Greater Copenhagen is one of the most progressive regions in Europe. What was your contribution to the success of this region?
Greater Copenhagen was composed as a political framework, where municipalities and regions are working together. Gate 21 is primarily an organization, which puts content – specific projects and initiatives – into this framework.
What are the key factors for this region development? What should other regions learn from Greater Copenhagen?
Two points: you have to be able to let go of some of your home preferences to have wider cooperation.
It’s important to support and create cooperation, where everybody sees his own role and benefits. Denmark is good in liveability of cities. Cooperation is important, but you also need to define in what each city is special. Everybody is not the same and we see this as the strength of the region.
What is your vision of future in your Greater Copenhagen area? Can you imagine yourself decades forwards, how your life could be like in comparison to your present lifestyle?
I hope, that the main factor will be that ordinary people will have good life. Trust and relatively good quality of living and not so much division or social and cultural barriers. Denmark needs to be innovative, whereas it does’t have natural resources, so it needs to be strong in green transition, digital transition, modern society. Denmark can be a demonstration site for the world – how to be innovative and modern but in the meantime where ordinary people will have a good life. We are very strong in digital area, but we must also use this knowledge to create better and safer lives for ordinary people and not just for a part of society, which is good in digital solutions and new thinking.
Greater Copenhagen area lies in two states – Denmark and Sweden. There are differences just considering this fact (politics, taxes, law, etc.), how do you overcome them?
We look similar from the outside. Both countries set high goals for liveability, both are very strong in digitalization. But in close cooperation Swedes and Danes are different in how they think. In Sweden they work more on strategy and that takes a long time. In Denmark people start to work together from day one and they define strategy later. This mix works very well together even if it sometimes takes time to agree on how to move ahead.
How important is to have a sense of sustainability, protection of natural resources, rooted deeply in human minds to push that idea in concrete green projects? There is a difference between environmental rules from the EU we have to follow and to have a population conscious of these issues, which is supporting new solutions in this area. How has this consciousness formed in Denmark?
It all comes from the oil crisis in 70s. We are a small country – we do not have a lot of wild nature, we have a bit of oil, but no other natural resources. You have to optimize what you have, so our focus was clear towards renewable energy – wind turbines, clean water, etc. Denmark has very strong companies in this area, today. That movement was driven by politicians. It was pushed also through industries, which later inspired everybody else. But you have to have a stable political climate. If you change policies every two years, no one knows what to expect. That is a very strong factor.
You have been able to gather almost all Danish lighting firms to collaborate in your living lab DOLL. How have you achieved that? (…if I compare that with Slovak reality, that would not happened, they are afraid of their own position on the market and that their know how is to be explored).
It was not simple. In the past, companies thought they can deliver whole package by their own. Today, when lighting is part of broader concept, they need to work more openly and work with many other partners. It’s also valid for other areas, but they need to be careful about their core knowledge and protect this. One company will never have solution for everything.
You have visited Slovakia and have been speaker at conference organized by Smart Cities klub together with Deputy prime ministers office. What would you suggest to Slovakia and Slovak cities to accelerate the process of Smart Cities development?
Seems to me that you have a possibility to grow, but you need to find ways to modernize. Public sector is not so open to innovation, so the key is a partnership among cities with sharing the solutions and knowledge between them. Then you can invite private sector and find legal solutions how to work together. You should also invite your best researchers into equation. When you consider DOLL – instead of each city making it’s own demonstrator, you have demonstrator for the whole country. One city can demonstrate mobility, another lighting,… You can spend public money to promote this city and the knowledge, that was gained during the projects focused on one specific area. Others can inspire.
What is DOLL about
Living Lab DOLL offers a neutral environment for meetings of buyers and producers of intelligent street lightning and Smart Cities solutions. Potential customer can see the most advanced technical solutions in natural environment. Those, who make decisions regarding new lightning solutions or Smart Cities, thus get better understanding and complex information, to make that process more precise and effective. All solutions are managed from visitors center, where data gathering, and analysis takes place also. Pilot location is 12 kilometers long, it includes roads and cycling paths. DOLL has 49 testing and demo areas, each is 200-300 meters long. There are 50 companies to promote their products.
The Danish Gate 21 and Slovak Smart Cities klub signed on the fifth of November 2018 a Memorandum of Cooperation. It was signed by Poul Erik Lauridsen, CEO of Gate 21 on the Danish side and by Miloslav Jurík, chairman of Smart Cities klub for the Slovak side. The top priority of Gate 21, working in Greater Copenhagen area, which includes East of Denmark and South of Sweden, is green technologies. Read more
Interview with Henk Cor van der Kwast, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Slovakia Read more
Interview with Jorn Wemmenhove a Lior Steinberg form Happy Mobility/Humankind
You said in your presentation that when you want to analyze and structure a problem in a proper way you have to ask people you would normally never ask. Who are these people in particular?
Lior: So, in practical level, if you plan a playground what normally happens is that you ask parents. Maybe, if you plan a playground for children you should ask the children. In one project that we did we planned that playground with children, physically, we played with a model. Only then we created the playground.
When you said:,,people you would never ask“ first thing on my mind was that it will be people who dislike that idea or are against it from rational point of view.
Jorn: That is another option, but you have invite not too many, because then a mix of people gets too negative. If you want to create creative atmosphere in which new ideas can emerge you need very diverse group, the new voices. That is proven concept how to produce creative ideas. What we see often in departments of municipalities is, that the traffic engineers and there are many of them, sometimes don’t talk anymore to the education department or the health department, which could bring other challenges. If they talk together, that will be already a new fresh connection. In higher conceptual point, imagine a cook. The cook is often a man that is very tough because he has to be one who is running the kitchen, he needs to be responsible for logistics, that everything arrives on time and will be ready for dinner. He has also this creative touch, because he has to make food very nice arranged and tasty. He has very unique mix of qualities that can be very useful to create new ideas in mobility, but he is never invited by urbanists. It is just the idea: bring the cook in that process of forming new mobility concepts and you can get completely new, weird maybe, ideas. But it could be the start of new way looking at something. Jane Jacobs is well known urbanist, but she was a journalist. She was able to look and to investigate things different than typical urbanist. Sometimes you need to bring more journalists to investigate things. Maybe you need to get a job here… (laughter)
I feel like there is no interest to add people from different professions to these conceptual processes.
Jorn: Take philosophers, that is another very important profession to take a part in such decisions. Deputy officer for resilience cities program in Paris, is interesting woman she studied philosophy before and she said: I can’t anything with it. And now she came in the urbanism world and she changed her mind completely and she is saying: now I use most of what I have learned about philosophy and looking at thing in a complex way.
Have you found in Slovakia something to inspire you?
Jorn: It was busy trip I have seen enough, but in overall, I like it. We were surprised by nice areas for pedestrians, which very quite impressive with many green spaces. There was also nice mix of people using public space. I liked typical older architecture quite nice combined with new fresh architecture. And what about you?
Lior: I agree with you with pedestrians areas. They were really impressive compared to what we have in the Netherlands.
In what sense?
For example zone for pedestrians heading to the Presidential palace and that in the Obchodna street. There are hardly any cars, only trams, stay for bicycle share.
How can resolve the interaction between pedestrians and cyclists. There are many shared paths that both groups use, but I think there is not much respect between them. Is that a matter of culture evolving long enough to solve it?
Lior: To share that space is crazy solution, you need to separate it. If you put them to the same place you will create a fight, it is not fair.
Jorn: In general cyclist is just the faster pedestrian. He uses the bike to get faster. You need to give them proper space and there will be no fights. We don’t have many shared space experiments in the Netherlands, but many mixes of separated and shared paths. And actually, it was going quite well because you as the pedestrian and me as cyclist can make eye contact, you know where I will go, I can expect where you go. In car is that much more complicated. But what I see very often, cyclists don’t feel comfortable or safe so they cross to the pavement and tjat is the point where just conflict starts. Pedestrians complain and they have a point. But that is not problem of those two groups, it is the problem that cities give too much space for cars.
Many cities try to attract startup founders nowadays. You said, every city can be attractive for them, if it wants. What should such city do?
Lior: In order to attract startup you need to attract startup people. To do that you need good quality of life and to have various people in the city. Not only different nationalities, immigrants, but every age – older people, as well as children. Startup is a new way of looking at the problem, right? If you think of the great startup cities they all based on diversity of its people. Take development in Berlin, recently.
Bratislava is located on two borders, with Hungary and Austria. Before second world war, many citizens of Bratislava spoke three languages – Hungarian, Slovak and German. It is not case at the moment. Could be that part of the solution?
Lior: If you find the story, that will remained people how it used to be and that will be return to its roots. But in practical way… Is there the fast train via these three cities, or not?
I am not sure, but there visions to try to build the Hyperloop even.
Lior: Maybe that is a solution, to move quickly, from one city to another. And that attractions will be cultural, because three different nationalities could get close enough. You can create metropolitan area gradually and to profit from that.
The interviewer: Juraj Kantorík
Smart City Norway Network and Smart Cities klub Slovakia have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. The cooperation was initiated by the meeting during the “Building Smarter Cities” seminar organized by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Norway, in cooperation with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise on 4th of June 2018, on the occasion of the State Visit of His Excellency Mr. Andrej Kiska the President of the Slovak Republic.
– We believe that our networks will both benefit from a partnership were experiences and technology is shared across borders, says Terje Christensen, Managing Director for Smart Cities Norway. We are already working on our first common projects, which will benefit the cities in Slovakia as well as cities and other partners in Norway, says Mr. Terje Christensen.
– We see big potential in common projects between Slovak and Norwegian cities, focusing on knowledge-transfer, good practice sharing, education of city staff, but also specific innovative projects in the field of Smart Cities and Adaptation to climate change, which will use extensive Norwegian know-how and technologies, says Mr. Miloslav Jurík, chairman of Smart Cities klub.
ABOUT SMART CITIES NORWAY NETWORK
Smart Cities Norway Network is the largest of its kind in Norway. The network has members from civil society, municipalities, startups, research, businesses and government agencies.
The 150 members consist of cities, municipalities and businesses from different industries such as IT/tech, buildings, architecture, city planning, climate and environment and others who are committed to smart and sustainable urban development.
The network aims to be an accelerator that will help Norwegian cities and municipalities to be seen upon as Flagships in the development of smart, sustainable and liveable cities.
Open data is essential to ensure a good ecosystem for the emergence of good and effective digital solutions to everyday challenges in different sectors. Therefore, together with the network members, we have taken the initiative for the Smartby agreement for open data.
Smarte Byer Norge AS is a consulting and advisory company in Oslo, Norway. Our mission is to help accelerating the smart city development in Norway. We believe that knowledge becomes more valuable when it is shared and that interesting things happens when people of different backgrounds work together.
As a consulting company we offer services for public authorities (cities, municipalities, regions, state agencies), companies, research institutes and academia, NGOs and others. Our services includes organising innovation events for municipalities – e.g hackathon and ideathon. We also offer smart city introduction courses and strategy and technical open data consulting.
ABOUT SMART CITIES KLUB SLOVAKIA
The Smart Cities klub is an original informal platform for sharing experience and collaboration between city leaders and experts in preparing strategies and programs on the road to Smart City in Slovakia. Smart Cities klub was inspired by more than 20 years of cooperation with cities in Slovakia and more than 10 years of cooperation with Scandinavian partners. Mission of Smart Cities klub is to change Slovak cities not only by using Smart technologies, but mostly by improving the quality of life of its inhabitants.