How five powerhouse companies came together for a smarter city

Urbanization, globalization and the technological advances of the 21st century are changing the cities of tomorrow. This means new and more complex needs related to infrastructure, social standards, sustainability, and services. Therein lies a major opportunity in terms of creating truly smart, future proof solutions related to transport, buildings, energy, ICT and more.

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🌎 The challenge

While Oslo Municipality through many years have had a strong focus on making sure Oslo is a leading smart city, the challenge of engaging the citizens in that work remained. By partnering up with ICT Norway, the leading interest group for the Norwegian ICT industry, we wanted to encourage collaboration between the citizens, the public and private sector to drive innovation for a smarter city. Because if one thing is for sure, it is that a smart city is a city that connects the people, the businesses, the infrastructure and much more – meaning that building a smart city in silos won’t work.

🛠 Our approach

We wanted to create a collaborative spirit where different players in the city infrastructure could work together, and inspire each other to create new solutions. We gathered a team of some of the largest players in their field, and facilitated a 5-week sprint starting at the yearly Arendalsuka, Norway’s largest political gathering, and ending at Oslo Innovation Week. By working with energy company Fortum, retail leader Coop, real estate developer Entra, telco Telia, and Sopra Steria – one of the consultancies with the strongest foothold in the public space – we made sure to truly have the infrastructure of the city involved. 


To facilitate this citizen dialogue, and make sure we addressed real user needs, we developed bydugnad.no, a website based on Reodor's crowdsourcing platform Brukerdugnad. The site asked a simple question: “What is your Oslo challenge?”. Through bydugnad.no we received more than 150 insightful suggestions, and several thousand votes, giving us a clue to their significance. The suggestions covered everything from smarter traffic lights and easier access to emergency heart starters to solutions for dementia patients who forgot to buy tickets for the tram.


During our 5 days of sprint work spread over 5 weeks, we facilitated the group's work in understanding user needs, deep-diving into creative conceptualization, understanding underlying assumptions then prototyping solutions and business models. The last phase of course included sending our teams out of the room for some hands-on user testing and iterating on the concepts based on the user feedback. 


🏁 The output

Presenting the results in front of a full house, the teams from the different companies had gone from user problem to a prototyped and user-tested idea in five days. 


As we all know innovation is a numbers game, so while four of the five ideas were taken into the innovation portfolios of the companies, none of the projects themselves ended up being taken to market. Nevertheless, the teams learned a lot about best-practice innovation and how quickly and efficiently you can go from an idea or insight to a tested business concept. In addition, several new connections between Oslo Municipality and private sector companies came to life – leading to dialogues and initiatives related to fighting dementia and leveraging 5G network opportunities in the city infrastructure.