Stockholm is Growing: Ecosystem Services and the Internet of Things

Last Thursday I was at the last talk about sustainable development in the Stockholm Royal Seaport, as part of the Stockholm Växer initiative, which informs Stockholmers about the way their city is dealing with its large population growth (according to these statistics Stockholm will be  the second fastest growing city in Europe during the next 5 years). Unfortunately, I noticed too late that these talks were being held, so I’ve only been to the last two.

"Stockholm grows, every day with 41 people. Every moth we are 1250 citizens richer. Every year there are 15,000 more Stockholmers." Photo by: Sascha Benes

"Stockholm grows, every day with 41 people. Every moth we are 1250 citizens richer. Every year there are 15,000 more Stockholmers." Photo by: Sascha Benes

On the 2nd October Markus Bylund, talked about the smart city, titled: ‘What is smart about the “smart city?”. He never really told us ‘what is smart about the smart city’, however, he did tell about a problem that they are having in smart technology.

At the moment many providers of internet based in-house services, like fire alarms, elderly care providers and burglary alarms require their own internet cable coming into the house. Attached to this cable every service also needs a modem for the internet to work. This means that with every service the number of cables and modems increases. In his view this causes a lot of waste. He says that one of the main challenges in his field will be to find a way to have all the services hooked up to one connection, a so called ‘smart grid’ or ‘the internet of things’. This, however, requires someone to take up the leadership role, either the business community or the government. but until now no one has taken the lead on this.

"What is so smart about the Smart City?" Left: Markus Bylund (presenter). Right: Anna-Karin Stoltz Ehn (moderator). Photo: Sascha Benes

"What is so smart about the Smart City?" Left: Markus Bylund (presenter). Right: Anna-Karin Stoltz Ehn (moderator). Photo: Sascha Benes

This week it was Christina Wikberger who told about her work with the development of ecosystem services in the Royal Seaport. What are ecosystem services you ask? Well, these are services that are provided to us by nature, like food, raw materials and recreation. In the case of the Royal Seaport, the city has planted extra trees to be able to suck up the extra rain that will fall in the coming decades as a result from climate change.

It is not the masses that are attracted by these talks, however, at both evenings there was a crowd of about twenty interested people, who asked the presenters relevant questions. Only during the first evening a confused elderly lady told us about the broken water pipes in her basement. The presenter, despite being surprised, swiftly adjusted to the new subject and gave her some advice on what she should could do about it.  

I really like these kind of initiatives, as I consider it valuable when the city creates a dialog with its citizens. The only downside of the presentations is that they were really short, just 10-20 minutes. this means that the presenters had almost no time to explain a complex subject. With most of the people in the audience being the more interested of Stockholm’s citizens, the need for some deeper understanding of the city’s development will probably be appreciated.

I hope they soon start with a new program.


Written by Sascha Benes. Follow him on Twitter, Linkedin and .