Young man in the streets of Stockholm.

Nordic Cities Use Data to Make Their Citizens Healthier

The rapid urbanization trend seen all over the world makes cities home to not only an increasing number of people – they are also home to tremendous amounts of data. The cities themselves collect data about things like traffic and pollution, and their citizens increasingly produce data about things like their health and lifestyle.

Combining and sharing these data across sectors, cities and borders presents opportunities to develop innovative solutions that not only help people get well but prevent them from getting sick in the first place.

With support from Nordic Innovation, the Nordic Smart City Network initiated the Nordic Healthy Cities project earlier with exactly that goal: To mitigate and prevent health challenges and set the public sector as a driver of innovation in close partnership with private companies.

The network, comprising 20 cities from all the Nordic countries, have now decided upon five innovative pilot projects that will utilize data from the cities and their citizens to develop and test innovative solutions to tackle health effects in future urban areas. The pilots will give Nordic companies a possibility to test their solutions in Nordic cities, attract international interest and strengthen the export potential for the solutions.

The focus on cities and data is well-aligned with Nordic Innovation’s Health, Demography and Quality of Life program, which aims to make the Nordic region the most integrated health region in the world by 2030.  

These are the five pilot projects:

Crowdsensed Data to Support Healthy Liveable Cities

Lead city: Stavanger

Participating cities: Aarhus, Vejle, Helsinki (Forum Virium) and Copenhagen.

The objective is to explore and map public health data that can be gathered in large volumes with the help from engaged citizens. The project aims to generate insights and start a cross-Nordic collaboration for data collection. There is a desire to unlock data from personal activity trackers, air quality sensors, and other sensors that can improve public health. Besides being relevant in urban planning settings, this data also increases awareness about our health and the health of our cities.

During spring 2021, the cities will start a market dialogue with companies to test crowdsensing campaigns and hardware solutions together with citizens. The project will then scale up the results to other cities and run a Nordic crowdsensing competition before finishing in spring 2022.

Healthy Liveable Neighbourhoods 

Lead city: Helsinki (Forum Virium)

Participating cities: Vantaa, Stavanger, Copenhagen and Kristiansand.

The objective of the Healthy Liveable Neighbourhoods project is to explore the elements of healthy neighborhoods from the green infrastructure and foodscapes perspectives. The project will generate insights and cross-Nordic collaboration and pilot practical tools for collecting data to support urban planning and scalable solutions for healthy neighborhoods.

In spring 2021, the partner cities will launch an open call for pilot projects to Nordic companies to co-develop digital participatory tools and block-level solutions or concepts for healthy neighborhoods in neighborhood labs in the cities. The result from the pilots will then be disseminated.

Private Data and Public Health

Lead city: Tampere

Participating cities: Syddjurs, Vejle, Torshavn and Espoo.

This project is targeting children and elderly citizens with the purpose of getting a holistic view of their health data by combining public and private data sources. This will enable them to improve their health and support healthcare organizations to create better and more effective services. As real-time information increases, data can be used to create predictive and prescriptive healthcare, which allows for more time and more cost-efficient healthcare services.

The participating cities will launch a call for pilot projects in the spring 2021 with the aim of scaling the pilots, if possible, towards the end of 2021. The data collected will provide opportunities for research, innovation, businesses and development and will be shared among the Nordic Smart City Network and further.

Reduction in Pollution to Create Better Health

Lead city: Tórshavn. 

Participating cities: Stockholm, Copenhagen, Reykjavík and Stavanger.

The project aims to explore if data can be used to reduce exposure to pollution, improve traffic flow, ensure safer and healthier cities and increase information to the public. The project will collect and evaluate methods for measuring pollution and traffic in Nordic cities and will initiate pilot projects together with companies to develop solutions that will then be tested in 1-3 cities. The project will be carried out between the fall of 2020 and spring 2022.

Sleep Monitoring

Lead city: Aarhus

Participating cities: Reykjavík and Helsinki.

The aim of the Sleep Monitoring project is to improve the sleep of residents with cognitive impairments (e.g. dementia) at nursing homes in the Nordics. The project builds upon the findings in a previous project where the City of Aarhus participated, which showed that the sleep of citizens at nursing homes can be improved by data from technology that monitors sleep and physical activities. Since many residents with cognitive impairments are unable to verbally express poor sleep, data can assist employees to improve care for the residents. However, the project he project revealed a lack of sensors that are both able to monitor sleep quality and meet the requirements of the public sector regarding data protection.

The Sleep Monitoring project, will work with hardware and software companies to adjust an existing sensor to monitoring residents' sleep and provide an alarm that complies safety requirements and personal data in the Nordic countries and to develop a tool that objectively can evaluate efforts to improve residents' sleep and circadian rhythm. The project will support systematic professionalism and interdisciplinary collaboration with the residents in focus and generate insights on sleep monitoring across the Nordics. The project will run from fall 2020 to fall 2021.


The Nordic Healthy Cities project was co-funded by Nordic Innovation in 2020 as part of the Health, Demography and Quality of Life program. The ultimate aim of the project is to create supportive urban environments and living, to improve health and quality of life, and thus support Nordic Innovation’s vision of a sustainable and integrated health region by 2030.

The Nordic Smart City Network will cooperate with private companies to deliver sustainable solutions to deal with the health challenges brought by increased urbanization. A fifth pilot project is on the way and will be launched later in 2020.


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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