A little while ago, three Japanese business executives accompanied by a representative from Invest in Denmark travelled to Aarhus for a meeting at the Alexandra Institute in the city's IT district of Katrinebjerg. On the way from the airport, the view from the taxi windows gave the visitors little if any impression of a country at the leading edge of IT development – the only signs of life were cows grazing in the fields.
Upon reaching town, the delegation first stopped off at a café to review the day's agenda, the purpose of which was to introduce the Japanese guests to Denmark's competencies in IT – and Pervasive Computing in particular. At one point in the conversation the Investment Manager needed to check some information on the Japanese company's website. Taking out his laptop, he called across to the waiter, "Is there a hotspot in this café?"
"In this café?" replied the waiter. "My friend, this is Aarhus. The entire city centre is a hotspot!"
The Japanese visitors' introduction to Pervasive Computing in Denmark had begun – a little earlier than they expected.
First city centre in Europe with free wireless internet access
In July 2003 Aarhus became the first city in Europe to offer free wireless internet access in city centre. The initiative was launched with both private and public sector support, the main players being Hewlett-Packard and Intel, Aarhus based hotspot company Redspot, internet supplier Tiscali and Aarhus City Council.
The investment focus that Aarhus has placed on Pervasive Computing is already producing a significant payback in terms of employment. The latest figures from Aarhus School of Business show that the IT sector's share of employment in Aarhus is 11.3%, compared to 10.5% in the capital Copenhagen and 8% in Aalborg in northern Jutland. Industry observers agree that the reason why Aarhus has created more IT jobs is due to its focus on Pervasive Computing.
Adding success to success
Capitalising on the IT employment surge with a perfect sense of timing, the Aarhus IT district of Katrinebjerg has recently won a competition against other European IT centres to lead a prestigious DKK 90 million (USD 14.4 million) project in Pervasive Computing named PalCom, which is certain to add further gloss to the city's technological reputation. The aim of PalCom is to create a platform for communication between technologies such as mobile phones, televisions, cars and monitoring devices. With successes like this, the future looks bright for Aarhus in the wireless world of Pervasive Computing.