Smart cities


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Smart cities and sustainable city development – insights and inspiration

Sustainable urban mobility and districts are two of the main priorities in the EIP-SCC, short for European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. In this summary, mobility experts from Sweco briefly explain a number of such solutions and insights that may be included in a holistic approach to urban development. Discover additional solutions and details in the referenced Sweco Urban Insight reports.


Offsetting urban sprawl and encouraging sustainable mobility

Almost three out of four EU citizens and more than half of the global population spend their everyday lives in urban environments. To improve resource-efficiency and help our cities scale, while also addressing challenges such as urban sprawl, it is vital to encourage and enable sustainable mobility. This is also important not only for reducing harmful emissions, but also for creating more liveable and mobile communities.

Good connections enhance the opportunities of choosing sustainable transports, support social cohesion and facilitate human interaction. By eliminating travel through sparsely lit, less pleasant areas, it is also possible to make commuting safer and more vibrant. Additionally, places with good connections between activities and careful placement of facilities benefit from reduced travel times and less environmental impact.


This Urban Insight report argues that urban spaces designed with great care and from a human perspective both improve people’s well-being and make it easier to choose sustainable means of transport.



  • The car-dependent city: Over the last century, planning cities for cars has contributed to urban sprawl, which has further increased car dependency. While car transport provides flexibility, it also makes urban life less effective by causing traffic congestion, inefficient use of space, increased distances between services, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and loss of time.

ICT-driven Smart City development may not be the entire solution, as the introduction of e.g. electric autonomous vehicles is more likely to increase, rather than decrease, traffic congestion in our cities.

Several studies have shown that people who choose an active way to commute evaluate their lives as more satisfactory than those who choose to travel by car.

  • Urban spaces that promote sustainable mobility: Creating a well-functioning urban area that promotes great mobility requires simultaneous work on many scales – from city structure to detailed design of the spaces that people experience in their daily lives. Some of these spaces are more important than others, e.g., urban nodes with heavy travel flows, and need special attention in order to make it easy for people to make a sustainable choice.

There is a large untapped potential in strengthening the use of linkages and nodes and their urban quality to further strengthen sustainable urban mobility. Doing so is cost efficient, has a high impact and creates many positive synergies for the urban citizen.

  • The placemaking concept: The term “placemaking” is often used to describe the collaborative and evolutionary process by which urban environments can be shaped to maximise shared value. To be successful, placemaking should be an intrinsically collaborative process between citizens, urban planners and engineers that shapes the city and results in better urban design.

With specific reference to the role of sustainable mobility, transportation infrastructures have been built through communities, rather than creating communities through transportation.

  • The SymbioCity concept: The SymbioCity Approach is a conceptual framework developed to address current challenges of the urban environment and builds upon a people-centred, inclusive approach and practical experiences and best practices from Swedish local governments.


Thinking differently about urban spaces