Five cities where ‘tesign’ is creating happiness

Feature Story

Around the world, cities are implementing policies that create happiness through the application of good “tesign”



In recent years, Copenhagen has developed a reputation as a frontrunner smart city. The city aims to become carbon neutral by 2025 and is leading the way in clean-tech. The city’s user-friendly architecture and transportation system help keep the population happy. However, the technology that has the biggest impact on the daily life of Copenhagen’s citizens is rather an old one; Copenhagen is well known as a haven for cyclists, meaning the streets are safe and clean, and the commuters are kept in great physical shape.


Visitors flock to Vienna from around the world looking for Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud, but local residents see another side to the city - one that is far more contemporary and high tech. Vienna is a leader in digital governance; open government data helps create a smarter city which, in conjunction with innovative new tech, is helping create a happier more equal society. Big data is also helping Vienna to become a pioneer of green initiatives and carbon reduction, which improves the environment for all the city’s inhabitants. Vienna underscored its commitment to a green future by hosting the first European Green Infrastructure Conference in 2015.


Tokyo perennially tops the list of Asia’s happiest cities. It is also a city synonymous with high-tech innovation. Japan’s low birthrate has led to an ageing population and a dwindling workforce. Necessity has driven innovation in automated technology, making Tokyo a user friendly city, despite its vast size and dense population. In the runup to the 2020 Summer Olympics, to be hosted in Tokyo, some of Japan’s most iconic tech firms have been developing ‘smart cities’ in Tokyo’s suburbs. When these smart cities are complete, they promise to showcase how cutting edge tech can improve quality of life.


France may be the biggest country to announce a ban on petrol and diesel cars, but Norway got there first. The country also has the highest rate of EV use in the world. Which is ironic, seeing as Norway’s high standard of living is based on oil wealth. Aside from a prosperous society with fair wealth distribution and good public services, Oslo’s citizens’ lives are improved by high-tech architecture that reinforces the link between the city and the outdoors, between the people and nature. Find out more about Oslo in this issue’s Design City feature on page 22.


Seoul is a hyper-connected city that relies on the convenience and interactivity provided by “tesign” innovation. Seoul is a city that sees entire apartments controlled by smartphone apps and groceries done with the click of a smartphone camera. The ‘smart home’ is no longer an exclusive concept in Seoul, Seoulites can use their smartphones to control the temperature of their apartment or the timer of their ricecooker from the comfort of their office. Homeplus Virtual Supermarket allows users to purchase groceries from a subway advertisement by simply taking a photo of the products displayed. Seoul is a “tesign” nirvana where technology works hard to provide the leisurely needs of its citizens.