At the 4th Conference of „ Slovakia towards Smart Cities“ which was organized by the Slovak Smart Cities klub, participants had an opportunity to hear a presentation by Jacob Lundgaard from Copenhagen about how the Gate 21´s Living Lab worked and operated. Moreover, what benefits the Smart City Academy should bring. Such an Academy is just under consideration how to make its best arrangements for Slovakia. The Slovak Smart Cities Klub takes part in this preparation phase. All of activities and projects by the Gate 21´s Living Lab are designed not only for Denmark, but for those interested – mayors of large and small cities from all over the world.
During the Summer School of Smart Cities 2018, the participants – mayors, regional government representatives and state administration representatives – could see how such a Living Lab looked like, what it served for, and what it could bring to municipalities as its potential clients. The participants took part in an introductory practical lesson in the Smart City Academy, in which they launched a debate on challenges in the Slovak Smart Cities. The discussed topics were like regional strategy and a cooperation model for cities and municipalities, management and governance at the level of regions and municipalities, financial issues, co-operation among towns and villages with a business sector and universities and academic institutions. Perhaps, the most complex issue was a change of mind at all of mentioned actors which should be targeted to a mutual support and cooperation.
This was one of the crucial points of the Summer School agenda. The above mentioned topics were discussed throughout our entire trip. The participants had a good chance to learn more about the Scandinavian attitudes towards the environmental protection, reduction of both energy and water consumption, new technologies for electricity generation from non-fossil resources, ambitious plans and intentions of both Danish and Swedish state administrations, as well as attitudes of local governments in respect of improvement of the quality of life of their citizens.
It seemed everything to become so simple and easy, that the people had asked: „Why we do not do that in the same way? Why do we have a huge number of working groups, meetings and discussions, which often result in additional clarifications of jurisdiction conflicts – instead of establishing a straightforward line: i.e. to say what is the role of the State in setting up the Smart City and the Smart Region; what is the role of regional governments; what is the task of municipalities in this process; how to establish functional urban regions that will be able to deal with projects efficiently at the regional level ….; how to involve the third sector, business sector, academic and research institutions to take part in this development.
We still cannot deal with the fact that many of contemporary topical issues need to be addressed and managed horizontally. We have not succeeded to proceed this way of working together yet. Traditionally, we used to prefer vertical management structures that guided us to concentrate rather on different competencies than on problems themselves; forcing us to think about who should be responsible for which area instead of solving the problem itself.
We saw some inspiring examples, how the State (ministries) could be joined together with local administrations, universities, local business companies and non-profit organizations in order to create a state concept being presented by one body, including its long-term goal and process how to achieve that goal. The „conflict of interests“ is not a topic at all, none of the state clerks feels under stress when it deals with a cooperation with a business sector…
All above is on the state body called the State of Green, which we visited in Copenhagen. State of Green could be a good example for us and a valuable experience, too. The organization which is jointly able to meet governmental goals and targets – the key is to reduce electricity production from fissile sources up to zero till 2050. However, it meets also the interests of other stakeholders– as far as towns and cities are concerned – to reduce costs, to improve traffic infrastructures, to reduce emissions and amount of solid municipal waste, to improve quality of life of urban people. The business sector has not been confined – the new trends aimed to the environmental protection require new technologies and new services. Denmark managed to create a brand new business environment which seemed to be quite a large one. Nowadays, Denmark seems to be a developer, a producer and a major exporter of various environmental technologies. It exploits not only 500 million European Union market, but it exports its own technologies also to such technologically advanced countries like USA and China – yes, it is not a typing error – also China! No unemployment problem in Denmark or in Sweden, school graduates remain to work at home – on the contrary – young capable talented people come to these countries to make their careers.
People like to move to places with high quality of life, where they have interesting and well-paid work with prospective future. In case of the area called Greater Copenhagen, we visited the Copenhagen City, the organization helping foreign businesses, investors and talents in identifying and capitalizing on business opportunities at the territory of Greater Copenhagen, including a support of smart solutions – from initial considerations to a final establishment. Generous new housing projects – e.g. Nordhavn, the new-built smart city district – are results of planned processes in Copenhagen and Malmö. Transformation of an old shipyard in Malmö which came to a bankruptcy at the end of the last century is the area which was converted to a complex of flats, offices and services. Everything this was done based on decisions of local administration bodies, mutual negotiations and ambitious plans. Moreover, a unique project of the Öresund Bridge connecting both Cities contributed also to that smart development. The Öresund Bridge was constructed as a PPP project, which had been repaid far sooner as intended.
The most beautiful view over the world is form the back of a horse, and over a city is from a bicycle
We received all this information above, and then we saw everything also in a „live transmission“. An excursion round Copenhagen was done by the former Mayor of the City – Mr. Asmus Kjeldgaard. Partly we walked, partly we sailed by a boat – how it belongs to this City. Mr. Kjeldgaard not only explained us the framework of the Green mobility project, but he showed us a unique mobility concept based on which 40% of Copenhagen´s citizens prefer rather to ride bikes when moving to work than to drive their cars.
Malmö was a city always in a shadow of Copenhagen in the past, however, Mr. Kent Andersson the Mayor of Copenhagen showed us a view on the dynamically developing contemporary city. He accompanied us during our visit at official premises of the Town Hall, he informed us about less-known facts of the successful development of his City, and he patiently answered all our questions for a long while. Afterwards, presentations by the Town Hall specialist continued, being focused on a City digitalization and reduction of energy consumption of the City´s IT infrastructure.
During the 2 hours guided cycling tour, we could see, how the City of Malmö lived. It is just unbelievable, how many different parts of the City can be seen during the two-hour biking tour – starting at the historical center, through parks and former industrial zone, current university district up to a modern housing area. It is hardly a better way how to enjoy the vibrant city than by riding a bike. We did not even care that it had little bit sprinkled – our guide had the rain coats with, ready „at his hand“. What was very important – none of us felt disturbed from traffic. We moved on regular safe cycling routes. The only danger threatened form the side of other cyclists – we were not totally adapted to the life on the city biking trails – however : where should we have get that experience from? Here, the people do not ride a bike because of making any trip – these people travel to their work – and they need to come there in time!
Our trip summarization and evaluation– thus we could call our visit the highest Scandinavian building. We were welcomed at the 54th floor of the Turning Torso skyscraper, the unique architectural work designed by Santiago Calatrava, the outstanding Spanish architect. Here, near clouds, we listened to the last presentation about the history and perspectives concerning the future City development. Afterwards, we had a chance to think little bit about what we had seen and heard. As well as to align our thoughts and impressions during a discussion among us, the participants of the Summer School, and to share our feelings and inspirations, how to transfer new experience into our daily lives.
The Summer School of Smart Cities 2018 was organized by the Slovak Smart Cities Klub in co-operation with the Slovak Embassy in Copenhagen, under the support of the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovak Embassy in Stockholm, Swedish Embassy in Vienna and some of Swedish partners who had supported the project already for a long time.