I’m sitting in Dubai airport in the middle of the night waiting for a connecting flight to Beijing and forcing myself to avoid the procrastination of shipping my last blog of the week. 1am in the morning seems like no better time so here it is.
Bornholm – Bright Green Island
Friday was the last day in Bornholm, where I met with Laila, the Chief Municipal Officer of the Regional Municipality of Bornholm. They have had a focus the last few years on more sustainable energy sources in their aspiration to be a Bright Green Island. Here’s one of many windmills now dotted around the island.
Bornholm, like most non-urban places in the world is facing the future challenge of aging and declining population. Bornholm is being proactive in looking after existing industry and it appears to be arresting the forecast decline in population. Aging population pops up time and time again and there has to be ways to leverage – knowledge transfer, volunteer work, and some more ideas that will emerge as the trend becomes a reality. Laila’s message is very much one of government as an enabler for growth through its own actions and gathering people together.
Smart Cities…and regions for that matter
Her message of enabling growth was very timely as I came across a copy of Focus Denmark in Copenhagen and there was an excellent article on smart cities using technology (data, sensors, social media, etc). A simple example – the City of Aarhus is releasing information collected by wifi, imagine what insights arise from that? Regional locations are going to have to step up to the plate on this very quickly and use their small size and connectedness to get things done quicker or get left behind. Take the foreign property ownership debate raging in Auckland…how hard would it be for smaller Councils to release summarised information on where owners are located? The problem is that as people shift to receiving communication online rather than by mail another way of identifying location is needed!
Quality of life
Most people mention quality of life as an advantage when I have asked about the advantages of places outside cities. Whilst that is obvious, I wonder if the answer to getting more people to make the move (asides from job creation) is a mix of understanding why people live in smaller locations now and what is holding city people back from making the move. There might be a research gap there like Otago University did with their “Get over it” campaign. What is holding people back from a better quality of life and is it actually better?