Boyd Cohen “…emerging trends … brand new cities…”

Boyd Cohen, climate strategist, author and researcher:
“One of the fascinating emerging trends will be the introduction and evolution of brand new cities which are being built from the ground up with smart cities in mind.”

Based on his definition of Smart City “Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint-all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.” Cohen published a list of the Top 10 smartest cities on the globe as a result of his research. I was quite surprised to see Vienna in first place and Amsterdam not listed:

1) Vienna
2) Toronto
3) Paris
4) New York
5) London
6) Tokyo
7) Berlin
8) Copenhagen
9) Hong Kong
10) Barcelona


Ørestad – first the infrastructure, than buildings on landfill

• Ørestad is the youngest quarter of Copenhagen build on the island of Amager – a landfill-area, previously used by military. Since 1992 it is turned into a mixed quarter for living and working. The quarter stretches north-south with 5km in length and 600m wide.
• There will be another 20 to 30 years before Ørestad is finished. The planning aims for 20.000 inhabitants and 60.000 workplaces.
• Quite unlikely for urban development in Denmark is that infrastructure is in place before buildings. That is due to the financing model applied:
In 1993 the Ørestadsselskab company was founded to develop the area. Their main task is to set up the infrastructure, a Metro-line, for the area. The project shall be financed by the revenue gained from selling ground to investors. Ørestadsselskab is owned by 55% from the municipality of Copenhagen and with 45% the Danish State.
• The Metro connects the various parts of Ørestad with the centre of Copenhagen and runs parallel to the Europe highway that gives a good connection to Sweden and the airport Kastrup.
• The guiding thought of this new urban development could be „Open Live“:
• There are private buildings comprising flats of 30m2 to over 100m2 all one open space.
• A newly built student-home conceptionally follows the analogy to chinese housing – being little groups within a bigger community. There are living groups of 12 students sharing kitchen and lounge facilities. Several of these groups are clustered in a section and 4 sections build the circle of the whole community.
• The „Gymnasium“ is the first highschool build in Denmark within the last 35 years. There are no traditional class rooms, learning is all open space.
• The „Concert Hall“ opened in 2009. It is built according to the plans of the french architect Jean Nouvel. It is covered in blue canvas that allows the projection of the play to the fassade.
• Besides all these good approaches for sustainable urban development Ørestad is also a great example for topics to be cautious about.
• The infrastructure (metro and main road) makes the quarter easily accessible but also cuts through, destructing the slightest effort for atmosphere and coziness. This development seems to make the same mistake as the car centered developments of german towns in the late 60s, early 70s.
• The groundlevel of the buildings was supposed for shops and retail. However this approach didn’t work so far, as most of the retail is concentrated in the newly built shopping center „Fields“ – the biggest in Scandinavia. This complex sucked all shops out of the neighbourhood and leaves the groundlevels around empty.

Why does it seem to be so difficult to create the coziness we love in grown city structures? Developing a greenfield is a unique chance – however we always seem to know exactly what went wrong afterwards.


The new urban development quarter I visited wants to encourage people not to have their own car:
• When moving there public transportation and car sharing are free of charge for the first 6 months (financed by the city – I was told).
• Parking space per flat is calculated with 0,8 cars (in Germany mostly 1,0).
• No through traffic; narrow streets
• Multipurpose spaces (e.g. for cars, pedestrians, bikes, restaurants)


Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are a way to escape the short-term election-cycle trap. By leveraging public goods to foster private investment, save money, and create new long-term benefits city has an attractive financial model and industry gets a reliable timeframe for investments.
There are examples for e.g. infrastructure trust where private companies can invest and get concessions for 10 or 20 years to operate facilities. In a McKinsey report i read about an example in Washington/US where the mayor Vincent C. Gray initiated an “App for Democracy” to an open community platform developed for submitting non-emergency service requests to the city. The first edition of “App for Democracy” yielded 47 Web, iPhone and Facebook apps in 30 days—a US$ 2,300,000 value to the city at a cost of $50,000.

Neapolis, Cyprus
With Neapolis near Pafos, Cyprus planns an investment of 2 bn EUR for 1 mio square meters. Neapolis seems to be a greenfield project and aims to position itself as the first ‘Smart EcoCity’ within the EU.
The financial and business model is not transparent on the website so I asked for further information – let’s see, how reliable they are!
At first sight it looks as if the leptos group is a construction company (founded 1960) focussing on hotels and resorts. Is the next step from there to build smart cities?

Looking forward to receive further information from them on how involvement of technology providers is planned, how investment should work and what the timing is. I keep you posted!

From City 1.0 to Smart City 2.0

Cities are stuck in a Web 1.0 stage! Today city authorities struggle with their old-fashioned internal structures. The administrative processes need to see adaption that reflect state of the art technology and meet the expectations citizens are used to from their privat medial experience. Currently information is made available for passive use only. Municipalities must define conditions that allow connected society by e.g. providing open data, infrastructure and legislation. Only this way industry can rely on a framework that allows the set up of new business models and investments beyond election periods.

“Smart City“ resembles a Web 2.0 stage! McKinsey identified 5 city archetypes that vary in their degree of maturity and centralization. Depending on their state of maturity variances in CAGR and CAPEX are remar- kable. Consequently the key success factors for doing busi- ness with them vary significantly as well as the process and requirements to transform them from a “city” into a “smart city” (SC).

PIKE research characterizes SC as“… the integration of technology into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being and economic development. SC should be seen as a complex confluence of several existing markets, as well as the driver for new, emergent solutions that span several of these traditional domains.”

Looking at the current situation “Smart City” has not yet picked up. All stakeholders seem to be stuck in silo mentality and focus on pilots. Sustainable solutions and scale up is missing. The definition of key success factors will help technology providers as well as cities to move forward together. The way towards „City 2.0“ has just begun.

London – Tech City 2014

The UK Government will put £50m towards a visionary project to transform the Old Street roundabout in East London into Europe’s largest indoor civic space, dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs. This new civic building will host classrooms, co-working spaces and workshops equipped with the latest 3D printing technology, for use by both the local start-ups and the wider community.

First movers for Tech City include the following:

  • Microsoft is establishing a Technology Development Centre to support local technology development, work to inspire innovation and provide expertise and guidance to those with new and innovative ideas. They will create packages of support for Developer Apprentices and are working on a new Apprenticeship to support young people in and around Tech City
  • Cisco, DC Thomson and UCL are opening IDEALondon, an innovation centre in Shoreditch to support the growth of digital and media companies. The facility will host up to 25 digital and media companies. 
  • KPMG, announces the opening of an office in Shoreditch, that will provide advice for early stage tech companies.
  • IBM offers “The IBM Global Entrepreneur programme”  with access to technology, support and resources to help technology start-ups develop solutions for a smarter planet and grow their businesses
  • Alert Me, develops technology that enables consumers to manage their home energy usage online or by smartphone. In Tech City they will establish a centre of expertise on technologies promoting energy efficient consumption and the smart, connected home.
  • Barclays and Ravensbourne offering placements to – Ravensbourne students to bring technology and design to bear on specific business challenges.
  • Skills Matter, developer community, to provide even more opportunities for its community to collaborate with the world’s top technology experts
  •, the enterprise cloud computing company