Children in a field playing tug of war

Enabling Citizens to Influence Urban Planning

“Where do people spend their time? Which parks are popular for exercising? How far are they willing to walk to buy groceries before they choose the car instead? These are examples of insight we hope to gather through this project”, says project manager in the City of Stavanger, Bjørn Tore Husby. 

Crowdsensed Data to Support Healthy Liveable Cities is a pilot project in the Nordic Healthy Cities initiative by the Nordic Smart City Network and co-funded by Nordic Innovation. Crowdsensing is a method of collecting, measuring, and analysing data from mobile devices from a large group of individuals. The plan is to obtain data from existing activity trackers such as Fitbit, Garmin and Polar from volunteering citizens in the test cities Stavanger, Vejle, Helsinki and Aarhus

“Obtaining the data is a complex process on a technical level. Inspiring citizens to participate is also a complex process. However, if we succeed with both challenges, we have access to a unique data base that provides new insight into behaviour and usage patterns. Such data enables us to conduct several exciting initiatives”, says Head of Stavanger Smart City, Gunnar Edwin Crawford. 

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We are still in an early stage of the project, but we feel confident that crowdsensing can serve many purposes if we succeed

– Bjørn Tore Husby, City of Stavanger

Synthesizing different types of data 

In addition to collecting anonymous activity data from individuals, the City of Stavanger wants to place stationary sensors to measure air quality, weather data and noise levels.  

“It may also be useful to place permanent sensors on city bikes and scooters. This can provide us with important insight into how people use bikes in the city, and subsequently make it easier to plan and maintain future bicycle trails. We are still in an early stage of the project, but we feel confident that crowdsensing can serve many purposes if we succeed”, says Bjørn Tore Husby. 

The project will obtain and store private data. Hence, GDPR and privacy legislation must be strictly adhered to. All data is anonymous, and individuals participate in the project on a voluntary basis.  

“It is the big picture that matters to us, and the data will be analysed at an aggregated level. Data sharing must always be safe for the citizens”, adds Husby.  

Looking for partners this spring 

As for all pilot projects in the Nordic Healthy Cities initiative, collaboration with the business community is vital. This spring, an open call will be conducted.

“We are dependent on both hardware and software in this project, so we will seek out various partners locally, nationally and across the Nordics”, says Gunnar Edwin Crawford.  

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We believe this to be an interesting opportunity for startups.

– Gunnar Edwin Crawford, Smart City Stavanger

Data will be collected in three cities across three different countries from various types of activity trackers. The data needs to be compatible, comparable and ready for aggregation, and then analyzed in a meaningful way.

“We believe this to be an interesting opportunity for startups. There are 20 cities in the Nordic Smart City Network. If one succeeds, the potential commercialization of a solution presents a great upside”, Crawford concludes. 


Portrait Rasmus Malmborg

Rasmus Malmborg

Senior Innovation Adviser
Rasmus has extensive international experience in complex project management, predominantly within health care system development. Prior to joining Nordic Innovation, Rasmus has been with LHL International for nine years and worked the last four years as CEO.

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