The city of Gothenburg's Smart Map platform shows residents where they can find things to hire, borrow, share or swap while simultaneously helping to reduce consumption based emissions and create services for the sharing economy.
Smart map is a digital map based on the participation of local residents and supported by the city government and the Collaborative Economy Gothenburg (KEG). Smart Map promotes a sustainable lifestyle by encouraging citizens to find alternatives to consumption, promotes access rather than ownership, facilitates new ways of connecting and encourages a strong sense of community.
Using social media channels, the city government invites citizens to participate in "map jam" events, where a dedicated group of people get together for a brief period, say three hours, to map as many sharing services in their city or town as possible. Smart map currently showcases more than 100 organisations and is continually evolving. The map's search functionality is very flexible, allowing users to search for initiatives by name, sector or activity. Smart Map highlights current and upcoming activities and networks throughout the city.
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Size and population development
around 535,267 inhabitants (March 2014) - growing faster than the country average
20% of the population are born in a foreign country
economic center; exchange hub; cultural and academic center
Main industries / business
automobil and high tech industry
a municipal assembly and a municipal executive committee elected for four years
19 district boards
Background and objectives
The city of Gothenburg was inspired by the global collaborative movement and local grassroots initiatives that encourage people to live in a more sustainable way. To help achieve its greenhouse gas target of 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per person by 2035, the city government set goals for reducing consumption-based emissions. Recognising citizens needed to have alternative choices to buying and owning if it was to achieve these goals, the city committed to establishing a sharing economy project as part of its budget.
When a survey showed residents were positive about sharing in principle but lacked knowledge about how to do it in practice, the city government forged a partnership with the Collaborative Economy Gothenburg (KEG), a volunteer group that was already galvanising and coordinating citizen action in this area. Together, they created a simple Google map showing all the options for collaborating and sharing available in Gothenburg that would eventually become the Smart Map platform.
To be listed on Smart Map an organisation, co-operative, community service provider, event or activity must adhere to at least five of the following seven - criteria (1-5 are compulsory):
- Open to everyone, or limited to a particular block or group of residents
- Items and services are provided free of charge or at cost
- The existence of a local community
- Facilitates urban commons and access rather than ownership
- Promotes hiring, sharing, exchanging, borrowing and giving, rather than buying and selling
- Promotes exchange between private individuals
- Small scale
The arrangement between the city of Gothenburg and KEG was formalised in 2016 with the signing of a joint partnership, this enabled the consumer and citizens service to seek €10,000 of public funding for the Smart Map project.
The website and digital map were launched late in 2016, showcasing more than 100 small scale initiatives, community resources and co-operatives. To be selected to participate, each had to fulfil at least five of seven criteria ranging from being free of charge to promoting renting, sharing, swapping, making, lending or giving. The smart map is managed and operated by KEG, the project team meets once a month to add new initiatives proposed by residents and to ensure it has up to date information of forthcoming events and activities related to the project.
The Smart Map features two bike kitchens, a best practice example of resource efficiency and social value that adds up to much more than its primary focus: providing do-it-yourself workshops for anyone who wants to service or fix a bike. As well as offering assistance from knowledgeable volunteers, bike kitchens provide courses on bike mechanics and a social meeting place for people of all ages interested in cycling. They also act as a recycling centre for discarded and abandoned bikes.
Visitors to the site can browse and be inspired by ideas such as growing vegetables in a neighbour's garden, hiring electrical and sports equipment from the public library, having electronic gadgets fixed in a repair café or by 3D printing, swapping clothes or renting the latest fashions and sharing skills, leftover food, spare rooms, workspaces or cars.
Smart Map is about people and community, it does not include second-hand stores, pawnbrokers, jumble sales, or vinyl stores. What is presented online is decided through joint consultation between the association KEG and the City of Gothenburg Consumer and Citizen Services Administration, and is based on their collective values. Anyone can submit a proposal by completing an 'Add an activity' form. Activities are then selected following a discussion between KEG, Consumer and Citizen Services Administration staff and project owners.
Financing and resources
Smart Map has been created as part of an innovative civil-public partnership between the association Collaborative Economy Gothenburg and the City of Gothenburg, Consumer and Citizen Services Administration.
Results and impacts
Smart Map doesn't only feature sustainable consumption initiatives, it promotes a broader meaning of sharing, such as companionship, meals and experiences. 'Meet the locals' is one of the most popular activities of this kind. Managed by the west Swedish tourist board, it enables visitors to meet residents and experience Swedish lifestyle and culture from a local perspective. For travellers, this can mean anything from sharing their hosts' family dinners to their favourite hiking trails or visiting places off the tourist track.
In the first six months of operation, a survey showed that 10,000 users had visited the Smart Map platform, many expressing surprise that there were so many things available to help them live a more sustainably life-style.
Stakeholders of the 100 featured initiatives determined the map to be a crucial asset and key contributor to their activities.
Lessons learned and transferability
The technical team are working on making the Smart Map tool open source to allow other cities to replicate its framework free of charge. Currently you can download information from the Smart Map website to receive information on how to develop the project in your own city.