How Can Happiness be Smart?3 min read

Nordic Edge Expo took place for the third time in Stavanger, September 26-28, and this year 4600 delegates were gathered at the event «Smart Happiness».

The caption is, of course, inspired by the fact that this year Norway was put at the top of the league of the UN World Happiness Report, closely followed by countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland and also Sweden among the top ten.

Mentioning the names of these countries immediately tells us what kind of societies we are looking at – the essence being places where one has someone to count on in times of trouble. Happiness is measured in terms of indicators of factors such as mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity, good governance.

But still – can happiness really be smart?

I believe that this question misses the point completely. Because how could happiness not be smart?

The happy position of our society as well as of those other countries mentioned as «top of the International League» could not and should never be taken for granted.

As we all have learned too well, there are strong forces working against the defining factors of a happy society:

  • stronger political divisions and bi-partisanism
  • stronger disagreements replacing shared purpose
  • increasing financial and social inequalities
  • technology perverted into surveillance and loss of freedom.

A sign of this, as the Report shows, is that the US has slid from the head of the league to country #19, not as bad as the Norwegian soccer team of course, but a slide totally unexpected only a few years ago.

Smart Happiness is therefore, the way we see it, the use of human creativity and technology to counter these destructive forces, to bring as many countries as possible into the «Nordic league» – and to ensure that we ourselves remain there.

This is why the social dimensions of the smart society, on democracy, trust and the public conversation are important key issues at the largest Smart City event in the Nordics.

This is why we focus on a large selection of ideas, strategies, systems, products and people supporting the basic idea of the smart world: To use technology – any technology! – to ensure that the world of the future becomes liveable, and even pleasant. There are rich opportunities if you are willing to look for new markets in the smarter world.

Building the Smart City and Business Opportunities were the main topics at this years conference. What are the building blocks? What policies and systems are relevant? What have «market leaders» done? New services grow much quicker when there is a clear incentive to growth. Profits are as convincing as they are rewarding.

We need to strengthen the social dimensions and the political perspectives of the smart society developments. To my great satisfaction, we experienced a lot of this during Nordic Edge Expo.

You see, people want to contribute – and people are not stupid: They want to be listened to – and now they have the means to insist that they will be listened to.

This is an enormously strong driving force for change and disruption – not only in any commercial market, but in politics and in society itself.


Our hope is that the smart technologies presented at Nordic Edge will enable us to build a world of the future that becomes liveable – and even pleasant.

We will continue to build Nordic Edge Expo to become the arena where all technologies are present, and equally important, the arena where the consequences of technology are put under scrutiny and debated.   

So, Happiness needs to be Smart!

This is the Nordic way. This is why we are the Nordic Edge, leading the way looking forwards and outwards.

Welcome back in 2018, September 25th -27th.

About Ivar Rusdal

Ivar Rusdal has been active within the newspaper and media business for over 20 years, as co-owner and CEO of Nordsjø Media AS and Chief Editor of the Group’s main title Jærbladet. He retired as CEO in 2013 and is presently Chairman of the Board of Nordsjø Media AS. Mr Rusdal has been President of the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association (MBL) and subsequently President of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA). He was Chairman of the Board of Lyse AS - the regional hydroelectric and telecoms company. Mr Rusdal holds a number of other board positions and is a member of a Commission on Media Pluralism, established by the Ministry of Culture to advise the Government on media policy in the new media environment. Since 2015, Ivar Rusdal has been Chairman of the Board of Nordic Edge AS, the organisers of Nordic Edge – Conference and Expo.