While you might already be familiar with Swedish drone initiatives like Aerit, which has completed domestic deliveries near Stockholm, or medical drone delivery company Everdrone, few have heard about the region of Örebro, Sweden, which encompasses twelve different municipalities that are looking to begin engaging various stakeholders to enable wide-scale drone operations.
We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dino Keljalic, the Infrastructure & Transport Strategist for the Region Örebro län, about their plans to co-create new low-level airspaces with all stakeholders (encompassing drone organisations, governmental bodies, police, community members, etc.).
Örebro is a region located in the middle of the country, which is why it’s often lovingly referred to as the heart of Sweden. Due to it’s location near Stockholm, it’s one of the most important transportation and logistics hubs in the country, which is why Örebro region has been heavily investing in innovative technologies like drones and the new electric highway E10, which allows electric vehicles to charge while driving.
Drone development has been a focus for some years, but it has only recently gained renewed importance due to the new regulations, which enable regions to create U-spaces where drones are capable of flying legally at acceptable levels of risk according to the SORA methodology. Dino told us that Örebro’s history of being a major transportation hub meant that the step towards drones was a natural one.
There are a number of different Swedish stakeholders who are engaged in supporting the safe implementation of drones, including Dino’s own organisation, Region Örebro Iän. Together, they speak with transportation stakeholders, like Swedish railroad companies that pass through their region and other transportation stakeholders, like those involved in the E10 electric highway project between Örebro and the Örebro municipality of Hallsberg and one of the largest cargo airports that’s located in the region of Örebro.
Additionally, Region Örebro Iäm also works with Örebro University and the promotion agency for the region, Business Region of Örebro to bring more stakeholders together. For drone organisations in Sweden looking for support to build sustainable operations, it might be a good idea to get in contact with some of these stakeholders to see how your business case can be translated into realistic operations with the help of this region’s stakeholder ecosystem who are already convinced and ready to implement drones.
Dino, however, told us that “we are not looking for the next cool pilot, but we want to take another approach and plan the lower airspace together with the municipalities in the region and the companies to have a solid and sustainable regional development.” The goal of intensively engaging various stakeholders is to make sure that the entire region is ready both from a political and a social point of view to begin the process of upscaling drone operations.
Dino has already had good experiences engaging with the stakeholders who would eventually be responsible for the creation of new U-spaces, so the approach will be much easier than others who are still trying to understand why U-spaces are needed, what capabilities these technologies currently have or even if drone operations are needed at all.
He explained to us that the Örebro region doesn’t see the newly implemented U-space regulations as the end of drone regulations, but the start of them. That means as the regulations are expanded through the experiences of individual countries, more drone operations are opened up.
Region Örebro Iän knows how long this process will take, which is why they’ve opened the roundtable to other private and public stakeholders to help co-create these new spaces. U-space regulations, explained Dino, are not created to be obstacles for organisations. Instead, they should be viewed as opportunities, so we can develop and create the ground infrastructure needed for the future Aerial IoT.
The goal is to have solid development that enables future drone flights in the region before eventually scaling the processes to other areas of the country.
Dino ended the interview by explaining how they view the process of building drone operations as a journey, in which they’re learning as they’re walking through it. Instead of taking large steps and increasing uncertainty, their goal is to take small steps to prevent possible miscalculations. At this moment in time, they’re still open to meetings and looking for additional stakeholders who would like to join them in this process.
The Council for the Stockholm Mälar Region, or Mälardalsrådet, is a membership organisation serving the county councils and municipalities in the Stockholm Metropolitan Area. Established in 1992, the Council has grown into a key platform for collaboration between regional politics, business sectors, and academia.
The Council's goals encompass a wide variety of sectors and are based on promoting strategic objectives within infrastructure and transport, as well as knowledge and skills development. Its vision is to ensure the Stockholm Mälar Region remains sustainable, internationally competitive, and attractive. With 43% of the Swedish population residing in the region and 49% of the country's GDP generated here, the region's growth and competitiveness have a significant national impact.
Every two years, the Council organizes a study trip to leading metropolitan regions worldwide to learn, compare, and implement successful practices back home. Some of the previous destinations include Vienna, Manchester, Berlin, Amsterdam, and London, among others. Additionally, Mälardalsrådet is part of the International Regions Benchmarking Consortium (IRBC), comprising several knowledge-driven metropolitan regions globally. This participation allows access to current statistics, data sharing, and research, aiding in comparing and learning from each other.
Transport and infrastructure represent another key focus area for the Council. The Stockholm Mälar Region, Sweden's "doorway to the world," sees a large proportion of the country's freight goods and business-related trips pass through. Since 2003, the Council has been developing a joint vision for the region's transport system to improve its international accessibility and increase its efficiency.
Dino Keljalic is a professional in the field of project management and transport logistics. He has been affiliated with prominent institutions such as CLOSER, the Mälardalsrådet, the En Bättre Sits collaboration, the Scandria Alliance, and the Botniska Korridoren, where he has played pivotal roles in promoting sustainable transportation initiatives, infrastructural development and regional connectivity.
Since June 2021, Dino has served as a part-time project leader at CLOSER, a neutral collaboration platform designed to increase transport efficiency. He works primarily within the theme area of multimodal freight transport, focusing on identifying regional needs, project ideas, and initiatives within Örebro County and connecting these with CLOSER's ongoing work.
From September 2020, he took on a significant role at the Mälardalsrådet, serving as a civil servant for Region Örebro in the Great Regional Freight Transport Council. Dino has been instrumental in promoting modal shift, initiating a politically approved action plan aimed at shifting freight from road to rail and shipping.
In addition, Dino has been representing Region Örebro at En Bättre Sits since September 2018. The collaboration aims at developing sustainable infrastructure and collective transport, easing the lives of the residents, and promoting effective goods transport. Dino has contributed substantially to the international accessibility and competitiveness theme group within the collaboration. In parallel, Dino serves the Botniska Korridoren as a civil servant for Region Örebro. The organisation aims at strengthening transport infrastructure and improving connections between northern Sweden and the rest of Europe.
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