SLU news

Sharing Platforms for a Sustainable Urban Future

Published: 22 October 2019

The Sharing Cities Summit was run by Sharing Cities Sweden to bring actors from across the Sharing Cities Alliance (SCA) together in Lund in October 2019 to share experience and ideas around the themes of sharing economy.

The SCA is a rapidly growing network of cities interested in developing a sharing economy. With over 70 cities worldwide and representing some 100 million citizens, it has huge potential to steer development in a more sustainable direction. The overall principle is that sharing is not only a more efficient use of the Earth’s resources but a process which supports a basic human need for community.

Sharing can come in many forms. Most obviously there is the sharing of things, for example work tools, which are expensive to buy and used only occasionally. There is the conversion of commodities, such as cars, into services such as car pools. There is the sharing of services on a peer to peer basis, such as repair workshops and teaching of skills. Then there are broader underpinning shared services, the City as a Commons. For example access to share ecosystem services in Urban Green Space and reclaiming urban space from roads and carparks in order to provide places community activities can occur.

Technology as a platform for enabling sharing

The first day consisted of presentations and panel discussions across a very wide range of topics such as how to enable sharing in communities, business models and institutional practices for the a sharing economy and governance models around this. Technology as a platform for enabling sharing was a constant theme though only one session was specifically dedicated to digitalisation with presentations such as the SmartMap from Emma Öhwall (Göteborg Municipality) and my own project modelling sharing of Urban Green Space with Twitter (MISTRA Urban Futures). Discussion centered on societal, practical and ethical questions around how digital technology can foster sharing and assess the environmental and social impact of shared services, be these online or on the ground.

Sege Park in Malmö

Day two consisted of a field trip to the fascinating development project Sege Park in Malmö. The development brings together Malmö City, private sector service providers and citizen lead initiatives to redevelop a former psychiatric hospital into a sustainable community. The site has an excellent visitor center including 3D visualisations of the development plus information about sustainable urban systems in general.

This was followed by key note presentations at SmartCity Sweden in Malmö including Helena Bjarengård (National Architect of Sweden, Boverket), Marcus Horning (Director of City Planning, Malmö), Annika Nilson (SmartCity Sweden), Patrik Ryden (Viable Cities) and Dan Hill (Director of Strategic Design, Vinnova).

Work across private-public boundaries and disciplines

A common theme amongst these presentations was the need to break down silos and work accross private-public boundaries and disciplines. That is no easy task, it will require platforms which are able to support a trust building approach and as such SLU Urban Futures could make a valuable contribution.


Report by Neil Sang, Researcher Geographical Information Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Science. Funded by MISTRA Urban Futures.