Torsdag og fredag 6.-7. oktober ble den andre utgaven av smartbykonferansen Nordic Edge arrangert i Stavanger. Konferansen samlet alle både private og offentlige aktører for å diskutere fremtidens byer og teknologien som skal gjøre dem bærekraftige og mer effektive.
Ambassadør Helen Campbell deltok på konferansen for andre år på rad, og ble i år invitert til å oppsummere konferansens første dag. Her fikk hun høre spennende presentasjoner fra Stavangers ordfører Christine Sagen Helgø, Helseminister Bent Høie og representanter fra Telenor, Innovasjon Norge og Microsoft, samt Smart Nation Singapore, Citizen Foundation og Waag Society. I tillegg besøkte ambassadøren messeområdet hvor over 100 selskaper, byer og offentlige institusjoner viste frem sine prosjekter.
EU Ambassador Helen Campbell – Sum up day 1
Check against delivery
Great to be here today.
I was here last year and then committed to come back as that was an inspiring event.
Congratulations on growing from 500 last year to 1948 and counting.
It has been a great day. How to sum it up?
For me, it started with a cosy cup of coffee outside the Stavanger city caravan that reminded us that the smart challenges are in the end all about a liveable and pleasant life. A message we have heard from several speakers today.
That is just one of many stands at the exhibition which is really fantastic this year. Last year the exhibition and lunch all fitted into the room just outside this one... Ten times bigger. When walking around in the EXPO today, I have seen the electric NTNU race car, and tested some VR glasses. It really shows the innovation and creativity that exists in the region and beyond.
But a quick detour - it is not only a great day here. The European Union and 7 Member countries went to UN HQ today and deposited their ratification of the Paris Agreement. That means now the 55% has been reached triggering the entry into force of that landmark deal to tackle climate change. That is an important part of the context for this – and I hope future editions - of Nordic Edge.
Cities - and smart cities - play a key role in implementing that deal. We cannot do it without cities!
I particularly liked the example Tim Turitto gave about how to make global impact through scaling up little things, cutting emissions just by encouraging city bus drivers to keep their foot off the gas pedal in a bus. A simple example of the role of cities and how "a bunch of little things [...] can make an impact".
We heard from the mayor how Stavanger is looking ahead and trying to create new business sectors as it transitions from oil and gas – how long that will take is a question too controversial for a diplomat to answer - and how it is becoming a smart city.
Health Minister Bent Høie spoke about the link between smart cities and better health. Smart cities do not only need to meet the challenges of the green shift, but also the silver grey shift we see with aging populations. He said that could create new opportunities both for businesses and people. "Silver Grey shift" is one of the key concepts I will take away from today.
Then in the key note speech from Ove Fredheim we heard how to internet of things is becoming mainstream and about exciting new developments on connectivity with the new narrow band IoT, which he saw as a game changer. We also heard about how big data can help get the big picture which can help to inform decisions in everything from transport to tourism. He also gave us a clear message on the importance of taking the internet of things into account when modernising infrastructure, and of municipalities and businesses working closely together.
Then we had Tim Turitto stress the importance of inclusion, sustainability and interconnectedness reminding us that we need to be smart not only from a technological perspective, but in how we organise. I was pleased to hear reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and challenge the assumption implementing these would automatically be expensive through his point on how to make a global impact through scaling up.
The second half of the morning made us think globally with the example of Singapore as a smart nation.
Then it challenged us - on how to involve people so smart cities did not lead to dumb citizens but instead called on us to be "civic hackers" and to participate in making our cities smarter.
Our neighbours from Iceland brought some inspiration on how to encourage people to participate with some creative examples of how they had done this over the last few years, both in Iceland but then in Estonia and Australia. They put stress on the challenge of getting people to want to participate, something they argued needed to be done in a professional way with IT tools people want to use which were open source, mobile and fun. I noted the last word of their presentation was "enjoy".
Just now, we heard 5 presentations from cities – with the common denominator = wanting better societies for all.
Next, a quick word on why I am here.
To drive competitiveness as well as sustainability and decarbonisation in a COP21 world, the European Commission is funding innovation and research through Horizon 2020. Part of this goes to large scale demonstration projects in what we call “lighthouse cities” of which Stavanger is one. As we have heard, it is working with other cities in particular Eindhoven and Manchester but it is good to see many other cities from across Europe here today too.
If you want to hear more about how this works – how to access funding and build networks – my colleague Axel Volkery will be speaking tomorrow morning at 1045.
Also take a look around the exhibition – I just did and you may be surprised how many exhibitors have the EU flag and are part of Horizon 2020.
So thanks to Nordic Edge for a day of stimulating and challenging discussions.
The last discussions can maybe be summed up with a key message – one thing about being smart is to have smart cooperation and collaboration.
This event provides an ideal forum for exactly that.