The Nordic Smart City Roadmap

Over the past decades, the term smart city has been used as a catch-all for various city development initiatives and concepts. Private companies have been at the forefront of smart development globally. Meanwhile, public organizations, municipalities, and cities have struggled with limited resources. Smart cities as we know them have grown from a need to facilitate technological advancements. Understanding the residents’ needs and improving their quality of life has so far only served as a secondary goal.

With this joint Nordic Smart City Roadmap, we want to promote conceptual, ethical, and political guidelines that honor a more human-centric, inclusive, and collaborative approach to developing smarter and more sustainable communities. We call those guidelines ‘principles

We have defined 5 Action Areas in the Nordics where these principles should be applied. 

  1. Leadership
  2. Inclusion
  3. Living Environment 
  4. Digital Communities 
  5. Health and Wellbeing

The main principles 

Based on the five Action Areas, we identified the following principles on which we should develop the Nordic Smart City. 


Figure 1.  Guiding Principles of the Nordic Smart City


Purpose of the Roadmap

Our main purpose has been to urge local authorities to re-think what we mean by ‘smart city’. Today a smart city is often described as an urban area that has become more efficient and/or more environmentally friendly and/or more socially inclusive using digital technologies. We we aim to change the perspective from a largely centralized, technology-driven, top-down approach — with a narrow focus on large cities and their typical urban issues — to a more collaborative approach where inhabitants (citizens, townsmen, villagers, rural people) as well as businesses, the voluntary sector and academia are invited to take part in solving dilemmas and overcoming barriers.

The Nordic Smart City Roadmap can be used as:

  • A guidebook describing the positive societal effects
  • A bridge-builder between cities and communities
  • A value creator providing a framework for cities and municipalities to develop their own strategy
  • A platform that lays the foundation for increased cooperation across borders


More About the Roadmap

The Nordic Smart City Roadmap initiative is funded and supported by Nordic Innovation, an organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The working group consists of the following organizations:

  • Nordic Smart City Network
  • Nordic Edge
  • Design and Architecture Norway
  • Demos Helsinki
  • Danish Design Center
  • Danish Architecture Center
  • Bloxhub
  • Iceland Design and Architecture
  • Nordic Urban Resilience Institute