The rise of the carbon-neutral Nordic city

Cities now account for 70% of the world’s CO2 emissions. From Oslo to Copenhagen to Växjö, cities both large and small have realised that where states have failed on an international level, cities can still succeed on a local one. Cities have shown the will to take the lead, and in doing so, seem to have realised something vital: if cities are where emissions occur then they are also where emissions can be curbed. Although the targets and measures of cities are local, they are a catalyst for a transformation that […]

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Backcasting Transformation: Smart + Sustainable Cities in 2040 @ Nordic Innovation House Palo Alto

This workshop, co-hosted by the Nordic think-tank Demos Helsinki and Meeting of the Minds, will gather urban leaders from cities, corporations, start-ups, non-profits and academia to explore state-of-art methods on urban foresight. The workshop demonstrates how the Nordic way of using foresight in urban regeneration creates better, smarter and more sustainable cities. Nordic Urban Foresight is an approach developed by Demos Helsinki and its Nordic partners in the Smart Retro project. It combines long-term scenarios with urban testbeds that enable experimentation of future urban services. Follow our Twitter feed to […]

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Smart talk with Mehmet Kaplan

Hyperconnected Neighborhoods, Transparent Cities, Smart Meetings and Transportation-on-Demand. These are some topics we’ll present and talk about on April 11 together with Mehmet Kaplan, Sweden’s Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Information Technology. The discussion is based on Demos Helsinki’s new report on the great potential that the massive initiatives in both building and renovating houses and apartments present: in reaching ecological goals and in promoting sustainable neighborhoods, transportation and energy use. In a word there’s a unique window of opportunity to revitalise the entire city, not just to building more […]

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How emergence of smart urban services will change the way we work, move, and live in cities?

For the past half-century, the central functions of our cities – housing, mobility, work and commerce – have remained more or less unchanged. Technical improvements have been incremental, business models have not diversified. Market structures are in many cases still very similar to how they were fifty years ago. It appears, however, that we are about to witness remarkable changes in the way we live, move, work and shop in cities.   Did you know sensors will soon contact everything that surrounds us to the Internet? These sensors can be […]

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Why do our cities change so slowly? There are 4 reasons behind it

There are established policies, practices and market structures that on the one hand make our urban planning machine automatic, but, on the other hand, make it resistant to change, even when change is strongly needed. So why do our cities change so slowly? 1 THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT IS DEVELOPED BY A CLOSED CIRCLE OF ACTORS, AND ITS DEVELOPMENT IS GUIDED BY CERTAIN CULTURAL AND LEGAL PREMISES. Examples of these premises include an imperative to fulfill the basic needs of the inhabitants, in particular to build enough housing for people to […]

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The new normal of cities – six things that define it

Cities are not like they used to be. Cities all over the world are repurposing themselves and building new narratives of their future success. While the rest of society defines progress in increasingly economic terms, cities have started thinking more about their population and their capacity to create a flourishing environment.  The structure of cities has changed. The 20th century city was dominated by big industrial structures and functional planning that separated production, housing and services into distinct zones. Now the new normal of cities and urban change perceives people, their skills, […]

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Digital disruption – a new opportunity for old neighbourhoods

The emergence of the digital economy and the need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions are changing the way we live and work, faster than ever before. These megatrends have given rise to numerous smart city initiatives that aim to lead cities into a carbon neutral future with the smart use of digital technology. But let us not forget to work with what we already have. Old cities with old infrastructure need a new version of smart city: a city that is old but offers the functionalities and amenities of the digital era. Nordic cities as innovation platforms for […]

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Old Stockholm

Redemption of Nordic urbanism

In the Nordic countries, migration into cities accelerated in the early 20th century, and the 1930s saw the beginning of a drive to reshape the built environment. By 1970 the majority of the population lived in cities. This shift took place comparatively late in Western European terms, enabling the relevant agencies to take a systematic approach to urban planning. City planning and architectural solutions became instruments of social reform. The creation of the modern living environment was closely linked to the development of the welfare state. New functionalist architecture reflected […]

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The new normal of urban growth

Cities are not like they used to be. Cities all over the world are repurposing themselves and building new narratives of their future success. While the rest of society defines progress in increasingly economic terms, cities have started thinking more about their population and their capacity to create a flourishing environment (yes, also in economic terms). The 20th century city was dominated by big industrial structures and functional planning that separated production, housing and services into distinct zones. An urban region would be defined by one trailblazing company, public function, or […]

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This is not a Smart City

Urbanisation is one of the most important megatrends to shape global society of the 21st century. However, urbanisation puts a strain on the quality of life in cities, as well as the management of big infrastructure systems, such as city traffic and energy usage. The Smart City approach is the paradigm of urban development in the 2010s. It promises to combat these challenges with new technological solutions; information technology can help to bring about new kinds of co-operation and to enable the interweaving of different city elements (energy, buildings, transportation […]

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