Torshavn in the dusk.

How Tórshavn Works to Reduce the City's Pollution

"Our goal is simply to minimize the exposure to pollution for every single inhabitant in Tórshavn. By optimizing traffic flow, we hope to create a healthier urban environment", says IT manager in the City of Tórshavn, Lars Larsen Black.

Tórshavn, Copenhagen, Reykjavík, Stavanger and Stockholm are the five test cities in the pilot project Reduction in Pollution to Create Better Health. The pilot is part of the Nordic Healthy Cities initiative from the Nordic Smart City Network, which is co-funded by Nordic Innovation.

In order to have a sufficient basis for carrying out optimization of traffic patterns, the project is dependent on obtaining data. Among other methods, radar technology will be used to measure the number of cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and available parking spaces in the city centre.

"We are using radar to ensure that we are compliant with GDRP and other privacy legislation. When we obtain larger amounts of data, we can start looking at solutions for optimization, and implement measures based on the results. To assess whether it works, we will measure the pollution of specific particles over a given period of time, and observe any variations", says Larsen Black.

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Our goal is simply to minimize the exposure to pollution for every single inhabitant in Tórshavn. By optimizing traffic flow, we hope to create a healthier urban environment.

Lars Larsen Black, IT Manager, City of Tórshavn

An ideal test city

Tórshavn is among the capitals with the freshest air in the world. Nevertheless, there are good reasons why this particular city has been chosen as the lead of the project.

"We are a small town of 22,000 inhabitants, and there is little bureaucracy here. This means that we can make things happen relatively quickly, which is of great value to the Nordic network. If we develop a good solution, this can be scaled up and tested in Reykjavik with 100,000 more inhabitants. If it turns out to work there, then it is relevant to try the same process in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and so on."

In addition to using data to optimize the flow at traffic junctions and during rush hour, Larsen Black envisions using the insight also for optimizing bus routes.

"By registering the number of people who are on the bus at any given time, and at which stops they get on and off, we get a solid basis for optimizing the routes. Thus, we can make sure to have enough buses available at the right time, at the right routes, throughout the city."  

Looking to expand across the Nordics

Larsen Black and Tórshavn municipality hope to begin collecting data during the month of January. In collaboration with a local start-up, sensors with 4G will be placed around the city.

"All the technicalities regarding the database and server are in place. As soon as we have started collecting data, our work on different optimization solutions will begin."

Nordic Innovation supports the Nordic Smart City Network (NCSN) on the project until May 2022. Larsen Black is hopeful that the results from Tórshavn can also be used in the rest of the Nordic region in the future.

"When the technology is up and running, and we are able to monitor the effect of our measurements, it is going to be exciting to see if a “Tórshavn solution” can be spread across the Nordics."


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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