Urban Trends & Innovations is an international research project that addresses the almost overwhelming challenges facing humanity in general and ‘urbanity’ in particular, today and in the future; climate changes, fierce urbanization, advanced digital transformation etc.
Meeting these challenges in order to reach the sustainable development goals stipulated by the UN, we can learn from the great number of inspiring innovative solutions that are being implemented all around the world. We think that such projects, although building on different technologies and/or relating to a variation of research fields, could learn a lot from each other in terms of working methods and innovation processes. If this knowledge could lead to more efficient processes - more solutions will be implemented and thus contribute to a more sustainable society in the future.
With more efficient processes - more solutions will be implemented and thus contribute to a more sustainable society in the future.
Starting with over 100 renowned innovation projects, from different parts of the world, we chose 30 inspiring cases for this study. First, a list of key criteria was defined and used to identify approximately 100 cases. Second, these first criteria and some of the selected cases were presented to and discussed with the reference group - a group of experts in innovation, and/or relevant fields within the business and academic sector (please, see Credits for reference group participants). Based on the feedback from the reference group, selection criteria were adjusted and the final selection of 30 cases were made. All these cases represent innovative solutions, are (partly) developed for an urban context and can be related to at least one of the 17 sustainable development goals. Apart from that, they represent a variation when it comes to: context (infrastructure, built environment, social security & welfare, experiences, etc.), size (number of actors, budget, scale, etc.), project phase (research, testing, implementation), complexity (technology, time, etc.), and location (country, region, city).
The case study is partly based on desk research (all 30 cases) and partly on interviews - phone or video calls - conducted between December 2019 and April 2020. Depending on the type of case, interviews were conducted with a project manager, CEO, CTO, partner or some other expert. In some cases, more than one person were interviewed. The semi-structured interviews were between 0.5 - 1 hour long, including some 20 questions about facts & figures, communication and collaboration, challenges and barriers, organization and working methods/processes, and lessons learned.
We present the results from the case study as 30 Short stories of smart projects and as Success factors that they have in common. The results are available here on this website. It is also possible to download a summary report (please, see Publications for further information).
In addition to the case study, Urban Trends & Innovations includes a future trends analysis, which identifies a selection of future trends that we believe have, or will have, a significant influence on the development of societies. These trends were part of the criteria for defining ‘innovative’ and thereby identifying projects to include in the case study. But the future trends analysis also aims to visualize what ten years from now might look like, which we have tried to do by creating future narratives about Emma and Oliver - two people living in the year of 2030. We provide stories of the future through their eyes; their experiences, dreams, their happiness and fears. How they live and work, travel and associate with others.
Achieving a better understanding of the future will hopefully inspire to actions today for more sustainable tomorrow. This will outline the most important mega trends and their consequences for cities in general. In order to achieve a more balanced image of the future, we use scenario analysis, in which one dystopic and one utopic scenario is described.
The Future trends analysis is mainly based on desk research, but a couple of expert interviews were made to validate and/or adjust it with regards to the smart city context addressed in this study. Names of the interviewed experts are listed under Credits.
A summary of the Future trends analysis is available on this website, if you are interested in more detailed information do not hesitate to contact us.
Urban Trends & Innovations is funded by the Sven Tyréns Foundation - a private Swedish foundation that is also the major owner of Tyréns AB. Tyréns AB is a community development consultancy that creates sustainable solutions in the fields of urban development and infrastructure, and with operations in Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Estonia and Lithuania.