Thursday, 24 March 2016 16:48

Yes to digital cities

Yes to digital cities

Danes say 'yes' to smart city solutions that make life easier, but they are also concerned about misuse of personal data.

By Dan Howis Lauritsen, 2016.03.21
Less congestion, fresher air and lower energy consumption. All enabled through technological solutions driven by data. Danes welcome the entry of smart city solutions according to a survey performed by Danish energy company NRGi and research analysis agency Megafon. In fact, 77% of the respondents express that Danish society should invest more tax-money into intelligent solutions that make cities smarter.

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“The result of the survey confirms that smart cities are not confined to political aspirations, experts and the companies who provide the technology. Citizens also want more digital city solutions that make life easier and contribute to creating a more attractive city space”, explains Søren Sørensen, CEO of NRGi.

Data for overview or more surveillance?
However, the respondents were reluctant to give their consent to collect and use the personal data to create the digital infrastructure. In the same survey, 45% of the respondents answer that they are unwilling to hand over data because they fear it may be misused. 28% are highly concerned or very highly concerned about this.

“It is a clear dilemma, which must be taken seriously. Data exchange is a necessary means to create a successful transition to smarter cities. That is why we must take citizens’ skepticism into account to ensure that data is used to create an overview instead of surveillance, and that citizens always give their consent, before they hand over information,” says Søren Sørensen.

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According to Martin Brynskov, a seasoned smart city researcher employed at Aarhus University, the question of data exchange is a notable challenge:

"Data is the foundation and premise for the smart city. There is a dual challenge; on the one hand making the data exchange safe, and on the other hand creating a bond of trust to each other and the different data systems. This calls for a Danish data exchange policy around smart cities with clear ethical and judicial guidelines," explains Martin Brynskov.

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The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently initiated a national analysis of Denmark’s growth potential within Smart Cities, and also plan to initiate a Smart City strategy, which among others accounts for the questions of IT-security and data exchange.

The importance of smart approaches for more livable cities
By 2050, more than 6 billion people will live in urban areas, creating many challenges for the planning, development and operation of cities. These challenges call for ‘smart’ approaches to ensure that cities are optimised for economic activity, energy consumption, environmental impact and ‘the good life’. ‘Smart Cities’ use ICT to become more intelligent and efficient in their use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint – all supporting innovation and a low-carbon economy.

- Related news: Unlocking the Potential of Danish Smart City Solutions

6 dimensions to a ‘smart’ city
Upon developing new cities from scratch or rebuilding existing ones , the challenge is to ensure livability, financial l sustianability and environmentally responsible. The following 6 dimensions help improve the cities of the future:

  • Smart economy: High productivity, entrepreneurship and ability to transform
  • Smart mobility: Strong ICT infrastructure and sustainable transport systems
  • Smart environment: Sustainable resource management, pollution prevention, environmental protection
  • Smart people: Diversity, creativity and participation in public life
  • Smart living: Cultural facilities, housing quality, health and safety issues
  • Smart governance: Political strategies and perspectives, transparency and community participation in decision making

Strong Danish traditions for building smart cities
Danish cities hold a long tradition of taking a holistic approach to urban development, where the concern for the environment, people and businesses go hand in hand. The two largest cities in Denmark, the City of Copenhagen and the City of Aarhus have both set ambitious goals to become CO2 neutral by 2025 and 2030, respectively. The cities are role models when it comes to creating a sustainable and liveable city that is appealing to its inhabitants. Healthy and green areas are necessary so people can enjoy the city all year round and interact. Both cities are using ICT to bring solutions to many of the challenges cities face today.

- Download White Paper: Smart Buildings - Combining Energy Efficiency, Flexibility and Comfort

Cities live when people live
In this short movie you can see real life examples of integrated city solutions:

 

 Source: NRGi