Today, more than half of the population in the world lives in urban areas. By 2050, the UN predicts that this number will increase to about two-thirds of the world’s population. As a result, the cities of tomorrow will be dense and above all, congested. In other words, sustainable development cannot be achieved if we do not change the way we organize and build our cities.
With support from Nordic Innovation, the Nordic Smart City Network (NSCN) initiated the Nordic Healthy Cities project, which is setting out to mitigate and prevent health challenges and set the public sector as a driver of innovation in close partnership with private companies. The project is part of the Health, Demography and Quality of Life program.
Testing innovative solutions to urban health challenges
The NSCN comprises 20 cities from all five Nordic countries. Together, the cities will run five agile pilot projects that will test innovative practices to tackle health challenges in future urban areas. The chosen pilots are innovative and prioritize the transfer of learning to other Nordic cities and potentially other and bigger markets.
The ultimate aim 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. NSCN will cooperate with private companies to deliver sustainable solutions to deal with the health challenges brought by increased urbanization.
The five pilot projects are:
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.
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.
Nordic cities stronger together
By sharing knowledge and learnings from innovation projects and by collaborating with private businesses, the Nordic cities will scale successful projects within their city to other partner cities.
Individually, each of the Nordic cities might be a small player in the global arena, but together in the network they gain a critical mass, a safe environment to experiment and try new solutions, and a place to share learnings that can benefit the whole region.