Digital solutions kindle sustainable urban area

Date: 04/01/2017

​​A new urban area near Copenhagen pursues digital solutions to support sharing schemes, a sensor-operated waste solution and other ways to create a well-functioning town. COWI is main consultant on the project. 

Sensors measuring traffic density, easy and quick access to available parking spaces, cloudburst alert as well as ice control and applications for easy booking of shared cars, shared guest rooms, office work spaces and workshops.

These are just a few of the elements of the development of a digital infrastructure in the town of Nærheden, a new urban area approx. 20 minutes from Copenhagen by train. ”Obviously, we must be able to offer high speed internet that is future-proof in terms of capacity and flexibility vis-à-vis content providers. Moreover, the digital infrastructure should include solutions supporting our core ambition to create a good environment for an easy and smart everyday life for the residents of the urban area,” says Ole Møller, project director of Nærheden, which is being developed on open fields and in an old industrial area in Høje-Taastrup Municipality.Unique opportunity to think digital 
The plan is to build a total of 3,000 homes plus schools, institutions, sports facilities, grocery stores, a healthcare centre, etc. for the expected 8,000 residents on the 65 hectares of open land.”By 2050, 9 out of 10 Danes are expected to be living in the big cities and digital solutions present a significant potential in terms of handling the efficiency requirements and accommodating the needs of the residents. Development of a new urban area such as Nærheden right from scratch is a unique opportunity to incorporate digital solutions from the beginning rather than having to integrate them in urban areas that have existed for centuries,” explains Bo Slott Pedersen, project manager at COWI, who provides consultancy services for the development of the digital infrastructure of the new urban area.

Clarify the needs and avoid impulse buying
Regardless of whether it is a new or old urban area it is really important to clarify the needs before purchasing the digital solutions, states Bo Slott Pedersen. Development of ”Smart Cities” – or intelligent cities – is a quite complex venture and it requires thorough considerations to decide which new technological solutions it makes sense to invest in. At the same time, the supply of digital solutions is developing extremely fast and there are so many exciting products to choose from. Our job is to help clarify the objectives and needs in order not to end up investing in unnecessary or even wrong technology,” says Bo Slott Pedersen.Project director Ole Møller adds: ”The needs of the residents have first priority, not selection of technology for the sake of technology. The latter would not only be a waste of money, but would also risk counteracting our vision of creating an optimum environment for the residents of Nærheden.”