The city of Stockholm, also known as The Beauty on Water because of its location and cobblestone streets, is home to about one million people. The larger, functional commuting area has 2.3 million inhabitants. The city is in an exciting expansion phase and one of the five fastest-growing cities in Europe. The population of greater Stockholm has grown by 20 per cent during the past 10 years with employment growing almost at the same pace (14 per cent). Predominantly, the growth is organic and foreign migration, with assistance from domestic migration.
The population increase requires an expansion of the public transport system as well as homes. The subway system is being expanded, with 11 new stations about to be built. The housing market is equally critical to the city development. Even though the construction of new homes has increased in recent years, the city still faces challenges in expensive sublet rents and few affordable houses for younger people.
The Stockholm municipality, the most populous municipality in Sweden, is responsible for schools, child and elderly care, care for the disabled, primary healthcare, emergency services, planning of construction and culture. The municipality also has responsibility for streets, roads, water and sewerage and much other technical supply.
As the city population is growing at a fast pace, there is increased pressure on schools and healthcare. The city has experienced a shortage in teachers and carers for children and the elderly. The need for workers in those sectors must be filled for the city to develop in a positive way.
Climate change implies that society will have to adapt to more extreme weather events than today. Flooding and heat waves will become more common in the future. This means housing, infrastructure and technical supply systems must be adapted to meet both today’s extreme weather events and the anticipated climate change.
At present, Stockholm is reconstructing Slussen, an important water lock in the city center. The new Slussen is primarily designed to improve the traffic situation at an important junction, but will also be able to release twice the amount of water from Lake Mälaren into the Baltic and thereby reduce the risk of flooding.
Home to a quarter of Sweden’s population, Stockholm offers an excellent mixture of livability, stability and innovation, which has made it a destination of choice for Swedes as well as foreign nationals.
Stockholm is one of the fastest-growing regions in Europe, and strong population growth is projected towards 2035. Major construction and redevelopment is under way, and the long-term development plan estimates that 140,000 new residences will be constructed by 2030.
The development plan for the region sets a course for Stockholm to become the most attractive urban region in Europe by the year 2030. The County Council will ratify the next plan, which stretches to 2050, this year.
Because of rapid urban growth, housing has become a significant social challenge. Stockholm regularly ranks among the more expensive cities in Europe.
The housing market in Sweden is highly regulated. About 22 per cent of Stockholm’s housing consists of municipality-owned rental units, for which there are long queues because of their affordability. Private rents are equally regulated, and legally prohibited from being a lot higher. Buying is extremely expensive because of the supply and demand, which creates an inflexible housing market and limits access to accommodation. Rents on the secondary market also can be very high, presenting a big obstacle for young people, students, immigrants and people moving from other parts of Sweden and abroad. The housing shortage is a big growth constraint.
The city has set housing targets by region and district in the current development plan, which estimates that 140,000 new homes will be built by 2030. The plan focuses on creating coherent urban growth, tying together districts as well as densifying inner-city areas. Work on big-ticket infrastructure projects, including major extensions to the subway system, is under way.
However, a lack of political will in dealing with the growing strain on the housing market has been exacerbated by strict building regulations. They have further limited investment while ensuring high physical standards for housing. Building regulations also pose a big obstacle to construction of genuinely affordable housing.
Stockholm is situated on several islands and its waterfront and public spaces, as well as clean urban environment, are of world renown. It usually ranks among the best cities in the world for natural environment.
Development of a pedestrian-friendly environment is a priority, with a focus on an available public space in the form of squares, parks and streets. Long-term plans include transforming local streets by prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, while still retaining their functions for transport of people and goods. Existing freeways and other heavily trafficked areas are to be complemented with crossings to reduce the barriers in the urban landscape. The construction of Bypass Stockholm, rerouting the major freeway past, instead of through, the city will lower traffic flows, promising a better urban environment with less noise and pollution.
The regional development plan recognizes the importance of protecting the region’s water quality. Water protection efforts should adhere to the European Union’s Water Framework Directive, which sets out rules to halt deterioration in rivers, lakes and groundwater. The plan also stresses the importance of providing long-term protection for undeveloped beaches and coastal areas, as well as ensuring the public availability of these areas for recreational use. Reconstruction of Slussen, a central traffic hub on the outlet between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea, will transform the area, better catering for pedestrians as well as squares and retail properties.
The Stockholm municipality is composed of 40 per cent parks and green areas and 70 per cent of residents have a park or green area within 200 meters. Several large preserved natural areas (so-called green wedges) are accessible to the public; their preservation as well as integration into the growing urban environment is a priority in the regional development plan.
The plan is supported by a park strategy, which underlines the importance of Stockholm’s green profile. Among its key measures is increasing accessibility to parks and green areas, as well as allowing for more, smaller green areas in the increasingly dense urban landscape.
Sweden has a high-quality public school system giving free access to all levels of education, although scores have dropped in international rankings in recent years. The rapid population growth has increased the demand for all levels of education, which has put pressure on school capacity. However, education is a focus area in the regional development plan, including access to international schools and a greater emphasis on matching education with the demands of the labor market.
The general quality of tertiary education in Stockholm is high, with access to several top-ranking institutions. Research, development and innovation are central parts of the region’s job market. To further stimulate innovation, public authorities in the region have begun several initiatives.
Access to healthcare in Sweden, and the Stockholm area, is generally good, with a well-developed public health system. However, recent population growth has increased demand in the Stockholm area, which has caused some capacity problems, in maternity care for example. Although investments have been made to expand healthcare capacity in the Stockholm area, including a recently opened hospital, these have been plagued by cost overruns and operational problems.
Cultural aspects in the regional development plan focus on social cohesion and cultural diversity. Development of a regional culture strategy is in progress. While access to public institutions such as galleries, museums and libraries is good, with a wealth of free alternatives, a focus area in the regional strategies is to make cultural institutions more accessible to young people and in socioeconomically weaker areas.
Stockholm is a city with elevated risk to climate change, primarily because of its location across the outlet from Lake Mälaren into the Baltic Sea. Flooding is the primary risk facing the greater Stockholm area and could lead to salt water spilling into the lakes that supply the region with fresh water.
Stockholm faces obvious risks from increases in sea level. However, there is a strong institutional capacity to respond to those risks. Current plans consider estimates of increasing water levels and rain volumes, for example by interspersing new residential areas with green areas to increase retention and drainage, but also by introducing regulation on the minimum elevation of sewage and drain systems to mitigate the risk caused by flooding.
Reconstruction of the main lock covering the inlet to Lake Mälaren will provide resilience to increasing water levels and is estimated to add sufficient protection for projected water level increases for the next 100 years.
Carbon neutrality is a focus area of the regional development plan. Stockholm regularly ranks as one of the greenest cities in the world. The city has adopted a strategy to become fossil-fuel free by 2040, which sets out the path, as well as targets for 2020 and 2030, including a fossil-free municipal organization by 2030. The city council voted to implement a ban on certain fuels in inner-city areas to improve air quality. The ban implementation is expected by 2020.
The city is in an exciting development phase in which many parts of the infrastructure system are being rebuilt, including expansion of the subway system with 11 extra stations. Rail transport via the subway remains the backbone of Stockholm’s urban infrastructure and helps explain why it has such a high rate of public transport use; about 70 per cent of all journeys are in peak hours. The city has also successfully implemented congestion charging in the city and on major thoroughfares.
The present long-term master plan (2014-2025) calls for a focus on development of regional infrastructure to improve connections to neighbouring regions. High-speed rail connecting Stockholm to Gothenburg and Malmö is being planned, although financing of the project is problematic. Other capacity-increasing rail and infrastructure projects are under way, such as Bypass Stockholm, which reroutes traffic from the major freeway passing through the city. By 2035, an estimated 140,000 vehicles a day will use the bypass.
Stockholm is attractive for both local and foreign business. The freight volumes are heavier than from other parts of the region, which is partly explained by the large population. All goods destined for Stockholm pass some form of relocation to other vehicles or another type of traffic and infrastructure investments have provided Sweden with greater capacity to ensure fast, frequent and timely deliveries. What makes Stockholm different from many other bigger cities is the possibility of transportation on water. However, delivery in the city center can still be difficult and there are no public documents on how logistics should be improved.
Global infrastructure connections — including freight, aviation, and broadband systems — are high quality. Stockholm Arlanda Airport is being expanded. It is expected to become the leading airport in Scandinavia, handling 40 million passengers a year by 2040. The reconstruction includes increased capacity for travelers, tenants and airlines, as well as for shopping, restaurants, hotels and conference facilities. Stockholm Skavsta Airport, about 100 kilometers south of Stockholm, provides an alternative airport primarily for low-cost airlines.
The ports of Stockholm are important for both local and foreign business. The city is constructing Sweden’s new port for rolling goods and containers at Norviksudden outside Nynäshamn. Stockholm Norvik Harbor will become a new logistic hub in the growing Stockholm and Mälardalen region.
Stockholm has developed a plan to make the city more pedestrian-friendly as part of its Urban Mobility Strategy. The city traffic council recently adopted a new parking plan, which included new zones and price structures aimed at reducing congestion and increasing parking capacity. It has also adopted a digital parking system to ensure ease of payment and effective utilization of available spaces.
In spring and summer, many Stockholmers travel and commute by bike. The city’s overall goal is to increase bicycle traffic from five per cent to 20 per cent of journeys in 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, a regional cycle plan has been created. The plan includes a review of what should be done and an estimated cost. Part of the plan is for the construction of 850 kilometers of dedicated bicycle paths.
Development of a pedestrian-friendly urban environment is a prioritized area in city planning documents, and long-term plans include prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transport in local streets.
Parking availability is crucial for car ownership. The policy in Stockholm is designed to encourage people not to have a car, at least not in the city center, so that the streets are less congested and better for pedestrians. This year the city introduced fees in new areas and the time and charges changed to discourage those seeking parking.
There are two main parking options in Stockholm: a monthly payment that allows you to park your car wherever you find space and a payment for parking at a certain spot for a limited time, either on the street or in a parking garage. Parking is expensive and infringement fines for not having a valid ticket are steep, especially in the city center.
Cycle-sharing is growing fast. You can either borrow a bike for a single trip or buy a bike pass that allows you to hire a bike for longer. Several stations around the city enable people to hire a bike whenever they need it.
Car-sharing is also a growing industry with several companies active in Stockholm. As well as taking more cars off the roads, it is also a cheap alternative for those who only want a car for single occasions.
Point-to-point and on-demand services are also on the move. There are several alternatives for individuals and companies to order fast and personal delivery of an array of goods and services. Examples include Foodora and Uber eats in the food delivery market, Ryska Posten in the goods and services market and Bzzt for fast and environmental inner-city transport. The market is limited to the city center.
Stockholm will be a world leader in allowing electric vehicles to recharge as they drive. The project is called eRoad Arlanda and is part of the route between Arlanda Cargo Terminal and Rosersberg logistics area. The track is primarily planned to be used by 18-ton trucks delivering goods for a postal office.
The number of electrical cars in Stockholm is increasing as well as the charging infrastructure. Several moves have been made to promote electrification, among them the Vattenfall AB inCharge initiative in collaboration with several companies to make electrical vehicles charging more publicly available. The City Council has voted to implement a ban, expected to be implemented in 2020, on certain fuels in inner-city areas to improve air quality.
The major bus distributor of public transport in Stockholm, SL, is investigating the possibility of most of their fleet becoming electric. This option could be done in 2026 when the current traffic agreement will be renegotiated.
Many information and communication companies, start-ups together with well-known multinationals, have been established in Stockholm, which indicates the huge potential of digital infrastructure in the city. In 2017, the Stockholm City Council adopted a strategy to further develop a smart city through coordination of the city’s work on digitalization. The strategy has been developed together with Stockholm’s citizens and includes the expansion of digital public services and construction of digital infrastructure.
In 2016, the city of Stockholm invited start-ups, entrepreneurs, students and citizens to the Open Stockholm Award. The idea was to make Stockholm smarter for residents and visitors. The award was shared by two mobile applications, Asthma Watch and Stockholm Garden. Asthma Watch helps asthmatics in Stockholm to avoid areas with high particulate levels in the air. Stockholm Garden connects Stockholmers interested in horticulture with people interested in renting a small piece of their cultivation plot or residential area.
Broadband is fast becoming the most common type of internet in Sweden, connected to a person’s home via fiber optic cables. Connection speeds in Sweden are fast in comparison to many other places in the world. The Swedish Government has adopted a broadband strategy that aims at 95 per cent of the country having high-speed connections by 2020, and 100 per cent by 2025. The strategy also focuses on increasing speed and access to mobile connectivity. The Stockholm region has adopted a strategy to achieve this, which includes concrete goals for 2020, as well as allocation of regional and state funds for the purpose.
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
Smart phones with internet included in the contract are by far the most commonly used in Stockholm. The internet connection is good in most places and does not differ much between operators. However, it can be difficult for a non-Swedish citizen to get a contract that includes internet as it often requires a Swedish bank account.
For those that cannot access internet through their phones, Wi-Fi is offered (either for free or at a low cost) in many public areas such as shopping centers, cafes, restaurants and some public transport locations. Wi-Fi offered in public spaces is usually not as fast as that offered in phone contracts.
Sweden has a long history of public access to official records dating back to 1766. It also has a wealth of statistics and data freely available through public agencies. There is an ongoing effort to make open data and public sector information available through the European Data Portal. The City of Stockholm started to publish open data in 2011. On its website, six categories of open data can be found, including culture, demography, traffic, environment, public services and geographic.
The Open Stockholm Award winners Asthma Watch and Stockholm Garden are a good example of how open data has been used successfully.
Sweden is one of the most well-connected countries in the world, with more than 95 per cent of the population having access to the internet. With ever-growing online activity, reported instances of cybercrime are rising. A recent Symantec survey estimated that in 2016, every fifth Swede was exposed to some form of cybercrime, resulting in total annual losses of almost CAD400 million. Likewise, the National Defense Radio Establishment said there were tens of thousands of harmful code activities against Swedish entities each month.
To adapt to this development, and to comply with the EU Directive on security of network and information systems, NIS (2016/1148), the Swedish Government launched a national strategy for cyber security in June 2017. The strategy highlights six areas of priority:
Securing a systematic and comprehensive approach in cyber security efforts
Enhancing network, product and system security
Enhancing capability to prevent, detect and manage cyberattacks and other IT incidents
Increasing the possibility of preventing and combating cybercrime
It is not easy for policy makers and public planners to keep up with digitalization. However, Stockholm’s documented digital strategy, including the ambition of open data as well as strategy for data security, indicates the city is planning for a digital future. The city council is encouraging citizens to be part of the transformation (i.e. Open Data Award).
About 80 per cent of the energy used for heating in Stockholm comes from district heating (hot water through insulated pipes), and 15 per cent from electricity. The city’s energy consumption remains unchanged, even though the population is increasing.
More efficient energy usage and renewable energy sources are needed to reduce the greenhouse effect. As well as replacing fossil fuel energy with renewable energy, energy efficiency needs to be improved.
Stockholm has developed a climate and energy strategy as well as a strategy for a fossil-fuel free city by 2040 to reduce the city’s environmental impact. For energy efficiency in buildings, the goal is to make energy consumption 20 per cent more efficient in 2020 compared to 2008. For energy production, the goal is to lower energy-related emissions by 30 per cent per citizen in 2020 compared to 2005 and by 40 per cent in 2030.
Much of the efforts in the climate and energy strategy are in line with the strategy for a fossil fuel-free city in 2040. To achieve this aim, the city is working with energy companies, hospitals and others to gradually replace fossil oils with renewable energy.
The biggest environmental problems in Stockholm’s lakes, waterways and coastal waters are eutrophication, environmental toxins and physical interventions.
The regional development plan points to the importance of protecting the region’s water areas by adhering to the European Union’s Water Framework Directive, which sets out rules to halt deterioration of water in rivers, lakes and the ground. The new overall target for the water management within the city is that the lakes, coastal water and streams reach the environmental targets for water — in most cases good ecological and chemical status — by 2021 or 2027.
The current reconstruction of the Slussen, a central traffic hub on the outlet between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea, will lower the risk of flooding as well as create a source of drinking water.
Even though water quality has been improved considerably, work remains before the environment quality standard is met. To achieve and maintain good chemical and ecological water status, the city has much work to do.
In Stockholm, material recycling and the collection of food waste has increased. The proportion of Stockholmers who dispose of their hazardous waste for recycling has increased while incorrect sorting has decreased. Likewise, the amount of waste put into landfills is decreasing, down to less than three per cent of all collected waste. Plastic is still a challenge, much of it burned rather than recycled.
The city has adopted a waste management plan in planning new areas, reviewing building permits and supervising environmentally hazardous activity, as well as determining how residents, businesses and other organizations should manage their waste.