What makes a smart society?

13 June 2018
A truly smart society is about people. The smart use of technology is not a goal in itself but a means to achieve improved liveability and sustainability.


Henrik Stener Pedersen

T: +45 51618124

By Andrew Somerville and Michael Rothenberg

In recent years, the notion of the smart city has become a well-developed narrative. At the heart of this lies the belief that technology can make societies more liveable, improve living conditions and help create a sustainable and resource-efficient future. In short, shape a better world.

Already, intelligent buildings can monitor our preferences to optimise energy efficiency and comfort. Data can be harvested to help us choose personalised transport options and autonomous vehicles can help hospitals cut costs and improve efficiency.

But it is important to remember the human element if we are to create a truly smart society, stresses the research paper ‘Towards a smart society’ by the Big Innovation Centre in the UK.

Professor William Powrie, from the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, agrees that taking the human factor into consideration should be the central tenet of using smart technology in successful urban planning.

“I’d advocate reducing consumption of energy and resources, and hence CO2 emissions, in a way that makes people feel happy and content,” he says.

Smart and sustainable

Ramboll believes that a society can only truly be considered smart if we combine the benefits of technological innovation with an emphasis on sustainability and liveability. Factors such as improved infrastructure, better mobility, intelligent buildings, digital networks and clean energy mean even more when they improve people’s lives.

In other words: smart is not a goal in itself – but the means to improve liveability and to achieve a sustainable future.

Henrik Stener Pedersen, Director for Social and Economic Impacts at Ramboll, underlines that to be considered smart, a society must improve the quality of life for its citizens in terms of better health and security, education, work, and quality of life.

“It is also crucial to ensure the sustainability of a city not just economically and environmentally but also socially. This in turns makes the city more attractive by increasing its competitiveness and efficiency and making it a desirable place for living and business development,” he states.

From smart buildings and hospitals, to more sustainable transport and efficient energy, we highlight over the following pages (6-33) how Ramboll promotes smart, innovative technology that aims to make society more sustainable and liveable.


This article features in the latest Response magazine. Read more here:


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