Umeå eNews - April 2020

Umeå is a part of Sápmi

Sami week – or Ubmejen Biejvieh – is a celebration of Sami culture taking place yearly in March. Umeå is a part of the Sápmi region and visitors of all ages can experience a full program with lots of activities each day. The connection with our Smart City District “Universitetsstaden” is obvious and this year the event was one of the last large events in Umeå before COVID-19 also forced us to slow down the level of activities.

Traditionally, The Sami culture includes a sustainable way of living and that is valuable knowledge to take care of in the ongoing innovative development. In a recently released communication concept we try take all this into consideration; traditional, sustainable, innovative. Well, let me tell you more about this concept and our aim to reach the citizens. Elisabeth Lind, Coordinator for communication, City of Umeå

Elisabeth Lind, Coordinator for Communication, City of Umeå

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Our flexible concept for broad communication to use long-term has been released.


Create 11 films to help the citizens understand what the innovative and technical solutions are about.


A challenge and a solution

How can we in an intelligible way tell citizens about the innovative and smart solutions developed in our Smart City District? This is a challenge that has been high on the agenda from the start for us in the communication group in RUGGEDISED Umeå. Our solution became a concept with 11 short films connected to physical signs, where the solutions are visualised and explained in an accessible way. A concept that will be long-lasting and is easy to develop for the future in our Smart City District.

We wanted to create a concept for communication that should be sustainable both temporarily and substantively and highlight cooperation as a necessity to succeed. “Small steps for mankind” became our solution. “Small” is here connected to something big – that all steps together make the difference and by inspiring other to follow it will have an even bigger impact.


Films and self-guidance

The result is a series of 11 short films, Step#1 – Step#11, with the headline “Small steps for mankind”. They commence with a short intro about Universitetsstaden as a national and international role model in reducing carbon footprint. Our smart city district is after all something of a pioneer city testing new solutions to meet the need to reduce CO₂ emissions.

The films, with subtitles in English, interviews people familiar with the solutions so they can tell you about them in a way that make it easier to understand for a broader audience. For example you can learn how two partners, Region Västerbotten and Umeå Energi, cooperate in the challenge to span organisational boundaries and facilitate collaboration. Their interesting solution is to create a model for storing and exchanging energy among organisations, thereby benefiting from the dynamics of the collaborative economy in the energy sector.

Region Västerbotten has built a facility in order to reduce energy costs for heating and cooling at University Hospital of Umeå. The geothermal energy storage 200 meters underground delivers a total of 7 GWh heating energy and 5 GWh of cooling energy per year. In terms of capacity and size it’s one of the 30 biggest facilities in the world. I find that amazing and it is a pleasure to help share such stories with our residents.

In the first film, Step#1, focus is on a more overall perspective. Interviews are given by i.e. the CEO at Umeå Energi and the Vice Chancellor at Umeå University. All films have a common outline that keeps the content together. The interviews strive to answer questions about challenges, solutions and visions.

The ambition is that films and physical signs complement each other, therefore the solutions are also presented on physical signs in the area. On these signs there are QR-codes that leads to the specific film which makes self-guidance possible. In addition, all information is available on a digital 3D map at a big touch screen placed at the University’s Infocenter. For now, this is closed, but we look forwarding to welcoming back students so they can learn more about the solutions.

Click the map to take a virtual tour of the solutions in Umeå (in Swedish)

Map of the physical signs in Umeå


Flexible and for the long term

We have set up our own YouTube Channel where we gather all our films #1 - #11. With this concept it is easy to help each other with the dissemination using #ruggedised, #universitetsstaden or #umeå.

With Small steps for mankind we can continue to highlight new smart solutions and serve as a Lighthouse for other cities to follow, both in Sweden and abroad. A role model in reducing the carbon footprint. A pioneer city in the front edge, testing new solutions. And, which is also important, to continue making our residents proud of being from Umeå.

Our concept is to clearly mark and communicate good news from this Lighthouse city. We provide all partners access to a suitable communication material to use in their own organisations and help to spread the word about what our smart city can do for the climate.

So, after watching these 11 films you can expect to see more collaborative productions coming from our Smart City Unviersitetsstaden

Signage put up in different locations around Umeå