International student project for smarter city planning in Västerås

May 03, 2019 | Education Student Research/Cooperation On campus

Students from MDH and seven HEIs (higher education institutions) in the Nordic and Baltic countries have together been commissioned by Västerås City to come up with ideas about Mälarporten, the biggest city construction project ever in Västerås. The commission has been given within the framework of Nordplus, which is a network for international exchange between HEIs in the Nordic and Baltic countries.

This particular NordPlus network (NordBiz) has existed for 26 years, and over the years a total of around 600 students have done some form of exchange within the network. Over the years NordBiz has developed various intensive courses, the purpose of which is for the students to have an opportunity of meeting, to exchange experiences and to cooperate across borders. This year there are 34 students altogether who are involved through the course "Smart Cities – Building a Sustainable Future: Consumer Behavior” at MDH, for which Charlotta Edlund is responsible.

– This is an excellent opportunity to practise cooperating with people from other countries and cultures, who may have other perspectives than we ourselves have. We’ve also been lucky in finding a good collaboration with Mälarporten, which has been incredibly instructive both for us teachers and for the students, says Charlotta Edlund.

Real-life project from Västerås City

Viktoria Ohlsson, the project manager of Mälarporten, gave the students the commission of coming up with ideas about housing, logistics, consumption, the digital travel centre of the future, and also making use of buildings in Mälarporten, the future city district of Västerås. The students were given the task of compiling reports in advance about how their home countries work with smart cities, and they gathered together recently during an intensive week at MDH in Västerås to work in groups with the task and also to present the final result.

Viktoria Ohlsson tells us that she is impressed with how much the students have managed to produce during the three days they were given to compile the report.

– The questions they were given to work with were big and difficult ones. In some cases their reports confirm what we ourselves have discussed, guessed, or arrived at. But even getting things confirmed from someone else’s perspective, in this case from young students who have a different point of departure from ours, and who to a certain extent turn to other sources of information than to us, is of value. Then we know we’re on the right track, she says.

Viktoria Ohlsson also tells us that they will be considering the students’ conclusions and suggestions in questions that lie ahead. She also emphasises that the cooperation with the University has been valuable for the project group.

– This was the Mälarporten project’s first concrete collaboration with the University. Further on in the project, research and innovation are extremely important questions for us, and we’d like to have all the input we can get. Moreover it’s very valuable for us to have input from, and dialogue with, younger community residents – those who will be living in the future Mälarporten! We’re happy that this type of cooperation can benefit all parties, and we hope for more in the future.

Positive students

Ellen Söderlund, who is studying at the International Marketing programme at MDH, has, together with her group mates, presented their ideas of how Västerås City can develop the Mälarporten future project regarding smart housing.

– It’s been a fantastic experience and we’ve learnt lots about sustainability issues and cooperation, they say.