Smart City Update from Oslo: City innovation program solving challenges in public-private partnerships

Like most cities, Oslo is facing challenges in areas such as climate, health, digitalization and mobility. The SmartOslo support scheme will contribute to solving these challenges in public-private partnership and contribute to faster development and adaptation of smart, user-adapted and sustainable services. 

SmartOslo is a unique grant that will contribute to innovation and development within Oslo Municipality, fast-tracking the development and adaptation of smart solutions which is a necessity if the city is to reach its ambitious goals of becoming the first zero emission capital and an international test bed for climate innovation. Project applicants can apply for amounts between 50,000 and 1,000,000 NOK, thus securing that no idea is to big or small to be considered, as long as the product and/or service developed is based on the real needs of the city and citizens. Testing solutions via such support schemes also has a positive impact on the risk of launching public-private partnerships and will reduce the risk of future innovative public procurement.  

On the whole, the SmartOslo support scheme aims at contributing to enhancing: 

  • Customer-driven innovation 

  • Better inclusion of the business community 

  • Job creation 

  • Rapid growth in startups 

The value for Oslo's residents is faster development and adaptation of smart, customized and sustainable services. 


3 SmartOslo projects 

Examples of SmartOslo projects that have received support through the scheme include the Circular Resource Center. The purpose of the center is to facilitate increased circular reuse of materials in the construction industry in Oslo and the surrounding area, and in that way contribute to reducing the climate footprint from material use in construction. This is done by establishing and until the end of 2025 piloting a multi-use resource center for used building materials in a 4,500 m2 storage tent on Økern Torg. 

Another example of a project supported by the scheme resulting in an innovative solution is the Oslobygg & Over Easy Solar project focusing on vertical solar cells on green roofs. All around the world cities are changing the building codes and regulations to better adapt to the climate conditions. Combining green roofs, systems for delaying water and energy production to better adapt to the climate conditions has become a necessity, but presently the cities are forced to combine different approaches, with sections of the roof dedicated to green roof or solar systems combined with a separate setup to delay water below the solar panels. The Oslobygg & Over Easy Solar project aims at combining a green roof with a solar system without compromising one or the other, by using the lightweight solar panels from Over Easy Solar which can easily be put on top of a sedum roof without limiting or changing the function of the green roof itself. Besides efficient use of space, another advantage is that the setup provides easy access to inspect, maintain and if needed repair the roof. And of course, the main advantage of efficient climate adaptation, where surplus water is dealt with without having to scale down the sustainable solar power production while at the same time greening the city and enhancing biodiversity. 

A final example to be included in this smart city update is the collaboration between the Agency for Water and Wastewater Services and the company Soundsensing. Soundsensing is developing an IoT sound sensor able to automatically identify potential problems with the pumps and valves in the water and wastewater systems by registering sound and using machine learning to recognize issues as soon as they arise, and in many instances even before they arise. The sensors are installed on the pumps and valves which each have their own unique sound image when working correctly. If a pump suddenly stops working properly, the sound it makes will change, and these changes or inconsistencies are registered by the sound sensor which then gives notice to a technician. Besides giving notice about the noise levels and the location of the issue, a machine learning algorithm can also differentiate between different types of noise, giving an indication of e.g. the urgency of repair or a hint as to what to expect upon inspection, thus securing that the technician for instance brings the right tools for the job. Up until now the technicians have had to physically visit all pump stations on a regular basis in order to make sure that everything is working properly. These technicians are to a very high degree dependent on their good hearing and built-up expertise in order to identify issues with pumps and valves, but with the new sensors in place they only have to do an inspection when they are given a notice of an inconsistency in the sound image, and they are no longer dependent on local knowledge about each pump’s unique sound image which takes years to acquire. Besides saving a lot of time and resources that would otherwise be spent on manually checking that pumps and valves are working properly, Oslo Municipality is also avoiding downtime of the water and wastewater systems, thus providing the citizens with a better and more consistent service.  


Read more about the SmartOslo support scheme here.