This talk will present and discuss some of the most prominent opportunities and challenges facing cities with an ambition to leverage the potential of digital technologies. The perspective is that of Aarhus, Denmark, a Scandinavian city situated in Nothern Europe in a conurbanized area of approximately one million people. Aarhus has recently announced a digital agenda, the Smart Aarhus Initiative. It will be formulated and implemented alongside unprecedented urban developments over the coming decade, the largest, relatively speaking, in the region, encompassing new constructions in central urban areas, the waterfront, an entire hospital city, large housing areas, as well as suburban areas. Aarhus has a dual purpose for its digital agenda: First, ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) will be a cornerstone in the coming transformation of the city and the region, with a focus on serving its citizens and businesses better and more efficiently. Key organizational changes at the municipal level are a part of this process. Second, Aarhus will not only be a customer of turnkey ICT solutions; building on the country’s largest concentration of ICT-based labor, including the large university, the city aims to become a fertile environment and testbed for digital city solutions. Many cities around the world have these two goals connected to digital strategies, but there are considerable cultural differences in the strategies and values that are manifested in actual digital city developments. Taking the perspective of a mid-sized Northern European city, this talk will provide an overview of the digital opportunities and challenges that Aarhus face, and suggest how these may differ and complement other initiatives around the world, especially concerning public space and civic communication.
Smart Cities; Participatory Design; Interaction design; Internet of Things; Urban Planning