Take a look at Trondheim. The famous Nidaros Cathedral, riverside wharves, wooden mansions and narrow streets conjure up images of days long gone.
Not the place, then, you’d expect to find Norway’s beating heart of digital technology.
Stockholm and Helsinki dominate the Nordic start-up revolution, but Trondheim is a surprising player in science and technology, fuelled by the wide variety of research institutes and the immense amount of graduates churned out by NTNU year after year.
But what really caught my attention on a recent trip was the system for buying bus tickets with your smartphone. The local transport authority, AtB, provide an app that allows you to register each journey on your phone. You simply show the driver the active “ticket” when you board, and that’s that.
It’s a superb system for someone like me who doesn’t live in Trondheim but is an occasional user of its buses and trams, saving me fumbling for change or buying a travelcard I won’t get maxiumum value from. It’s also the cheapest way of buying tickets, a single (valid for 90 mins inc. transfers) using the iPhone app costs just 24.8 kroner compared to 33 kroner for an advance ticket or 40 kroner paying on the bus.
When I first heard of the system I doubted many would use it, but on my last visit to the city at least half the people boarding the bus flashed an iPhone at the driver. Trondheimers have taken to it like ducks to water!
The Wireless City
There is also impressive wireless internet coverage across Trondheim. With such a big academic population the NTNU and Eduroam systems cover vast areas of the city. But in addition, there is Trådløse Trondheim (Wireless Trondheim)
A project that started life as University life, Wireless Trondheim now provides over 500 access points across the city centre and works with local businesses in many innovative ways. For a standard public user, the internet access is cheap at just 10 kroner for 3 hours or 30 kroner for 24 hours. Compare that to a hotel and you’re laughing!
While you’re connected to the information superhighway (retro!), remember to check out the city’s great what’s on and airport apps, available for iPhone and Android.
Trondheim may be steeped in history, but when it comes to technology it only looks forward.