[FOCUS SMART CITY] Oslo : connected and ecological smart city

          If Norway has been voted “most digitalized country” by the Finnish Etla Institute, it is because connectivity is one of the major and essential challenges for the Smart Cities market. Through cities that have a “Connected City” strategy such as Baerum (IT-strategi, Smart IT 2014-2020), Oslo (Smart Oslo Strategy), Stavanger (IKT-strategi 2014-2017 based on a long-term digital strategy 2014-2029) and Trondheim (Temaplan: IKT 2015-2018), Norway is a perfect example of a country entering the new market for connected cities. ThJe city of Oslo combines all the characteristics of a connected, intelligent and ecological city and is a leader in the field. Oslo catalyses all the prerequisites of a smart city, whether it is network development, citizen services, energy management or OpenData expansion.
In 2016, Juniper Research placed the city of Oslo 5th in its ranking of the most representative cities of smart cities. The latter corresponds to the evolution of the evaluation of smart cities and the transformation capacity of cities. According to certain characteristics, the city of Oslo has been included in this ranking thanks to these actions in terms of public lighting, transport use and the new urban airport project. Oslo is a true innovator in terms of the environment, urban planning and transport, and has become one of the most inspiring smart cities in Europe.

Smart Oslo: Towards an ecological transition around the Internet of Things

This human-sized city with a population of about 660,000 inhabitants already predicted that by 2020, no cars would be on the road in Oslo. This ambitious project – still ongoing – is becoming a model for the transport ecosystem in Europe. In this country where 96% of the electricity population is hydropower (2.5% from thermal power plants and 1.7% from wind farms), Oslo clearly states its intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by proposing new alternatives through transport, urban planning and public services. With these various projects for an intelligent city focused on ecology, such as the testing of autonomous and electric shuttle systems, Oslo was elected “Green Capital of Europe for 2019”. In addition, the city has organised competitions such as the “Smart Mobility Hackaton” which rewards innovative start-ups in the provision of public transport services. Smart city projects are most often focused on the implementation of intelligent sensors in cities. The Norwegian capital has set up the E-Street project, which makes it possible to “adjust urban lighting using intelligent sensors” and to modulate light intensity according to seasonal and activity needs. The E-street project therefore sets up efficient and economical sensors and aims to put an end to energy waste. The 20,000 intelligent streetlights now in Oslo have saved up to 70% of energy.

The European Commission has granted 225,000 euros to the City of Oslo for a project on sustainable transport solutions through public procurement. These funds will be partly intended to modify the city’s mobility during the transition to zero-emission vehicles “through the acquisition of transport services and the provision of goods and services”. In addition, technology-based projects are constantly flourishing in the Norwegian capital. The city has a pilot project to “demonstrate the potential for technology use in a smart city context”. The purpose of this prototype is therefore to visualize climatic and environmental data such as bicycle counting or the use of charging stations for electric vehicles in particular. The data are displayed in real time in the “climatic dashboard”, analysed and then combined with meteorological data. Thus, it is possible to present “predicted data based on automatic learning”. The final goal of this project is to support the city’s ecological transition using ICTs by showing climate change trends using statistics. This management and visualization tool is intended primarily for smart cities that want to use technology to make a better ecological transition.

The city also has an eco-neighbourhood: Vulkan. In the heart of Oslo, this 4.6-hectare area offers living spaces, housing and infrastructure. Vulkan therefore has its own central heating system that “operates in parallel with the city’s district heating network”. Its annual production capacity is 6 GWh and is located in the basement of a covered market. This system produces the energy (in the form of cold water) needed to power the refrigerators and cold rooms of restaurants on the market. The heat produced is therefore recovered and then redistributed “to the entire district in the form of hot water”. Finally, six electric cars are permanently available to users. These can be booked via an application available on a smartphone.

What strategy for a new public transport ecosystem?

      The problem of public transport is confronted with that of a smart city that claims to be “ecological”. To this end, the city of Oslo has indicated its willingness to abolish car use in the city in the same way as more developed public transport. Scheduled for this year 2019, this ambitious project aims to reduce the 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector in the Norwegian capital. In 2016, the sector accounted for 18.6% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. In this context and in an ecological context, Oslo has seen the development of public transport – through information and communication technologies – as a major challenge. The city has therefore set itself the objective of “abandoning the notion of public transport and launching into mobility as a service” through the figure of Endre Angelvik, the vice-president in charge of mobility services of Ruter, the public transport authority in the Oslo region. The latter aims to develop and manage the growth of public transport, walking and cycling, without forgetting the desire to significantly reduce car use. The concept of mobility as a service (MAAS: Mobility as a service) introduced by Ruter is based on four trends in an intelligent city: urbanization, sustainable development, digitalization and individualization, the strong point of the car.

MAAS or “combined mobility” consists in improving transport problems and dealing with logistical problems in particular. Thus, digitisation makes it possible to “integrate the different modes of transport”. The city tested an experiment already carried out in Sweden by the startup Ubigo. 80 households did not use their personal vehicles for six months in exchange for a subscription including all types of mobility and a flat-rate payment, including a car rental. This experiment was carried out with a 100% positive result. MAAS implies in particular a perfect functioning of public transport. Finally, a “RuterBillet” application has been set up to plan routes and buy tickets electronically, rendering paper tickets obsolete.

While public transport is an alternative to personal and polluting vehicles, connected cars without drivers are also seen as a new means of transport. With the help of Navya and EasyMile, two French companies that supply shuttles, Ruter is working on building a fleet of connected vehicles. Ruter added that “simulations carried out for Lisbon by the OECD’s International Transport Forum show that the use of autonomous and shared vehicles, combined with a good metro network, could lead to the disappearance of 90% of cars on the road without affecting mobility”.

Transport management is at the heart of the transformation of a city into a smart city. As a result, Oslo will become the first city to offer wireless charging to electric taxis. Setting a real example for other cities around the world, the capital promotes “induction technology to enable taxis to recharge themselves”. This new technology is the result of the alliance between “Fortum, a company working in clean energy, the capital of Norway, Oslo and the American company Momentum Dynamics working in wireless chargers for electric vehicles”. The latter have teamed up to work on a fast and wireless charging system. This technology is an economical solution, so that “loading plates will be installed on the ground and can be connected to the vehicle’s receivers”. These plates will compensate for the slow use of charging stations using cables. The aim of this initiative is therefore to reduce taxi-waiting times, facilitate loading and ultimately (objective 2023) ensure that the city’s taxis are emission-free. It should be noted that in 2018, “1/3 of the cars sold in Norway were electric”. This solution is therefore part of a global ecological project.

Oslo Airport City: A smart and connected city ex-nihilo

     Norway will soon become the country that will host the most sustainable city in the world: Oslo Airport City. The Nordic country is preparing to start construction work on a modern, connected, ecological and autonomous city under the supervision of the Japanese Panasonic. Norway now has nothing to envy its neighbour Sweden in terms of ecology, while Sweden buys back waste from neighbouring countries to produce electricity, which is then redistributed to the population at a lower cost. Norway will therefore be the first European country to build a city that aims to become “the smartest in the world”. This city will be located near Oslo International Airport and will cover an area of four million square kilometres. This urban area will be based on ICT and will be fully environmentally friendly in terms of construction. Buildings and dwellings will be “fully connected to an energy system powered by renewable energy”. In addition, the energy surplus will be sold to the city of Oslo and neighbouring cities. The city will consist of intelligent roads, on which electric and autonomous (driverless) vehicles will operate. This city will therefore only see electric vehicles on the road, whether they are public transport or bicycles. Finally, the airport, which will be nearby, plans to offer flights on board electric aircraft by 2025.

Once ICTs are integrated into the heart of the city’s operations, Artificial Intelligence will supervise the connected equipment, which will be linked to a “doped centralized management” system, thus controlling the operation of cameras, public street lamps and other equipment. The first inhabitants of this city are expected in 2022, the city will want to be a real laboratory, and example in the field, once the construction is completed.

Conclusion

    The city of Oslo meets all the criteria of a smart city, from the use of ICTs to the exploitation of new technologies to establish better management of the city and a better living environment for its citizens. However, the Norwegian capital is moving towards an ecological transition using the Internet of Things and in particular through these actions in terms of public lighting, transport uses and the new urban airport project. Innovative in terms of the environment, urban planning and transport, Oslo has become one of the most inspiring smart cities in Europe. The city is focusing in particular on intelligent and electric transport for less energy consumption and, in the long term, to make Oslo a car-free city. The city also uses Artificial Intelligence to supervise the implementation of the Internet of Things in the city. Between connected sensors, electric vehicles and connected buildings, Oslo has everything it takes to maintain its status as a digital and connected city at the heart of a country that sees connectivity as a major challenge for the ecological transition.