Close dialog

How IoT is building smarter cities in Northern Europe

IoT Blog | December, 2017



Se-Hsieng Eng

Head of Internet of Things Northern Europe


How IoT is building smarter cities in Northern Europe

It’s an exciting time to be leading Vodafone’s strategic growth in IoT in Northern Europe. Across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the rapid adoption of wirelessly connected smart devices is making life better and more convenient for millions of people.

A fast-growing sector for IoT in Northern Europe is smart cities, or urban areas where digital innovations are being used to improve critical services from transport and waste management to health and security. This growth is driven in part by regulatory requirements such as the EU’s 2020 climate and sustainability objectives; by deploying smart energy management systems, for example, city authorities can ensure they are on track to meet environmental targets. And as IoT applications continue to increase, smart cities are discovering more and more ways they can benefit from this technology.

Northern Europe is home to some of the world’s smartest cities. In each of these cities, IoT is central to local efforts to deliver higher quality services. Here’s an overview of what Northern European capitals like Amsterdam, Dublin and London are doing on the IoT front to better manage urban services, along with five key steps local authorities can take to start building smart cities of the future.

Building smarter cities with IoT

Dublin: In 2016, Dublin’s four local authorities created Smart Dublin. Set up to coordinate a smart city strategy, as well as position Dublin as a world leader in developing smart city innovations, Smart Dublin is piloting several IoT projects, including smart rubbish bins that send alerts to local authorities when full to help improve city’s cleanliness. The city is also set to benefit from Vodafone Ireland’s newly installed Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network, a low-power, wide-area technology used to connect smart devices with low bandwith needs.

Amsterdam: Having developed Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040, an urban master plan which aims to ensure Amsterdam continues to be economically strong and sustainable, in 2014 Mayor Eberhard van der Laan announced a new initiative to develop an IoT strategy for the municipality, dubbed the Internet of Everything. The goal was to improve how city services were run, starting with smart lighting, smart parking and smart security services in Southeast Amsterdam.

London: London’s smart city plan, unveiled in 2013 and updated last year, aims to harness digital innovation to improve the lives of Londoners. IoT is at the forefront of this endeavour – London’s IoT projects include using environmental sensors in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to better understand how visitors interact with their surroundings, and experimenting with smart parking bays in Greenwich as part of a €25 million project.

5 steps to smart IoT-ready cities

The examples above are just a few of the ways smart cities in Northern Europe are making the most of what IoT has to offer. If you’re thinking about what you can do to help your city become an IoT-ready smart city, here are five steps to help you make a start:

  1. Identify your city’s needs

    This will require widespread consultation with other stakeholders, including businesses
    and local communities. Amsterdam, London and Stockholm, which have already launched their smart city strategies, all emphasise that they developed their plans after soliciting input from locals.

  2. Develop a clear set of objectives

    Use feedback from citizens, communities and businesses to shape your strategy and create a clear set of objectives. London’s smart city plan for instance has seven aims, starting with putting “Londoners at the core” of the strategy. Once your smart city objectives have been defined, consider how you will achieve them using policy, regulation, enterprise partnerships and investment. Also, how will you measure success?

  3. Consider smart finance

    Identify how you will ensure that implementing the strategy is financially sustainable in the longer run. Does your smart city project need EU funding in the early stages? Can business partners step in to provide financial modelling and sponsorship? Take Stockholm, for instance: the city has public-private partnerships in place to help realise its Vision 2040 goal. One example is Digital Demo Stockholm, a joint effort to pilot innovative projects that improve city life; this group includes corporate partners like ABB, Ericsson, Scania, Skanska and Vattenfall.

  4. Determine if public sector intervention is needed

    Not all IoT uses have strong business cases to back them up. If so, there may be a need for public sector intervention. One example cited by consulting firm Cambridge Consultants in its IoT report to Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, is connected healthcare. In the UK, where care delivery is split between multiple providers and payers, it may be more efficient to seek a centralised approach, the report noted.

  5. Determine how you will manage security

    As more city services become interconnected, an essential step to consider is how you will ensure these services are secure. Professional services firm EY’s report, “Cybersecurity: A necessary pillar of Smart Cities”, highlights the challenge. Even in the business world, 37% of those who responded to EY’s Global Information Security Survey say they lack real time insight into cyber risk, while just 8% of organizations say they have a robust incident response program that includes law enforcement. Smart cities must be sure that they are managing security effectively in an increasingly complex digital world.

Related articles

Did you know?

Wherever you’re based, we’re there

Around the globe, our network reaches 182 countries.

The complete package

We provide the physical network and the management and control function.

We are leaders

Gartner names Vodafone as a Leader in its 2020 Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global.