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Can we “nudge” our cities into becoming smart?

India has set high ambitions for the development of its cities through the Government’s “Smart Cities Mission”. The Norwegian Ambassador recently shared experiences from Norway with Indian city commissioners. A key takeaway from an evening of energetic discussions was that a “gentle nudge” may be more effective than a “big push”.

More than half of the global population lives in cities, and the number is rising. Cities face a number of challenges in light of this population growth e.g. pollution and infrastructure under pressure.
India has set ambitious targets for its urban development through its “Smart Cities Mission”. The Norwegian Ambassador was recently asked to share Norway’s experience and technology with a number of Indian city commissioners during the Third Smart Republic Conference organised by the World Bank in collaboration with Mobilepedia in New Delhi. The Embassy and Innovation Norway were strategic partners to the event.
Ambassador Kamsvåg presented experiences and technology from Norway in all key areas of smart city-development. This included topics relating to smart energy (e.g. smart grid), smart resources (e.g. waste management) and smart transportation (e.g. smart e-vehicle charging).
There was particular interest in Norway’s shift towards electric vehicles. In spite of Norway’s population size of 5.2 million, it has one of world’s largest markets for electric vehicles in absolute terms. This is in part due to a “gentle nudge” from Norwegian authorities – creating the right financial incentives whilst investing heavily in charging infrastructure.
It was emphasised that the Norwegian public sector has not defined the technology itself. Instead, the private sector has been left to innovate and create efficient solutions within the political and regulatory space that has been created.
Ambassador Kamsvåg was pleased to discuss these issues with relevant Indian stakeholders, particularly in light of our common sustainable development goal of making cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. The conference brought together numerous stakeholders and decision-makers from Indian smart cities and the Government of India in order to further the Smart Cities Mission. The lively discussion after ambassador Kamsvåg’s presentation showed that the participants found much of interest in the Norwegian experience.  Norway looks forward to making a contribution in this key Indian initiative.