SMARTNORTH: Sustainable development and Management by participatory governance practices in the High North


The project investigates the scope of and driving forces for the development of participatory governance (PG) practices and their potential effects on sustainable development in High North communities. The growing use of ICT technology and so-called smart city-, community- or region concepts opens up new areas for public innovation, especially regarding the development of new PG practices in the High North.

About SmarthNorth

The growing use of ICT and so-called Smart City community and regional initiatives opens up new areas for public innovation, especially regarding the development of the local dimension of governance in the High North. Such innovations can give greater voice to local stakeholders in relation to strategic, urban, and financial planning decisions in the High North territories. However, there is a lack of knowledge about existing and new practices regarding local stakeholders' participation and Smart Cities in the context of the High North.

Smart City initiatives involve the technological development of cities with a focus on infrastructure and services which improve citizens' lives, with careful management of natural resources, through participatory governance (PG). The PG concept suggests that local stakeholders (e.g. citizens) become active contributors in local governance, including strategic, urban, and financial planning.

Founded by an international team of researchers from Norway, Russia, and Finland, the SMARTNORTH project combines the fields of public administration, management, and organizational science.  Project group investigates the scope of and driving forces for the development of PG and Smart City initiatives in the High North along with their potential effects on sustainable development in High North communities.

During the first phase of the project, the team has been mapping existing experiences of PG and Smart City initiatives via a comprehensive media and documentary review of 76 cities in the High North of Norway, Russia, Finland, and North America. The preliminary findings demonstrate that while the use of Smart City initiatives is growing in the High North, this concept (which was developed outside the High North) requires careful interpretation and translation into its unique context with the use of PG mechanisms and performance management. The results show that, with only small exceptions, the Smart City and PG initiatives are disconnected from each other. It seems that the global Smart City technological solutions are being introduced without acknowledging the needs of local communities and the unique challenges of the High North.

The current phase of the project began by identifying several cities to conduct in-depth studies of Smart City and PG initiatives in the High North, namely in Norway (Bodø), Finland (Oulu), Russia (Murmasnk, Tuemen and Solekhard), and North America (Anchorage). This in-depth investigation will give more comprehensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities involved in using Smart City and PG initiatives to contribute to sustainable development of High North communities. Following up these cases, the project will summarize Smart City and PG initiatives in the High North by comparing the countries.

So far, the project has resulted in three peer-reviewed publications, one article currently under review, and three working papers presented in international conferences/seminars in Norway, Finland, Russia, and New Zealand. In addition, the project group has published three newspaper chronicles and actively promoted the project ideas and findings via presentations to practitioners and the public. The expected output of the project is five articles in international academic journals, several chronicles in High North newspapers, a policy-oriented report with guidelines for participatory practices, and an overview of participatory practices and Smart City initiatives in the High North.


Partners


High North Centre at Nord University Business School (Norway)

Advisory board


Events


Research group






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