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Moving from a linear to a circular economy means minimising the waste and pollution by reducing, recycling and reusing. The City of Amsterdam aims to redesign twenty product- or material chains. The implementation of material reuse strategies has the potential to create a value of €85 million per year within the construction sector and €150 million per year with more efficient organic residual streams. Amsterdam set up an innovation program on the circular economy; www.amsterdamsmartcity.com/circularamsterdam. By converting waste into electricity, urban heating and construction materials, the Amsterdam Electricity Company generates 900 kWh per 1000 kg of waste. 75% of the sewage system is separated for waste and rain water and the silt which remains after treating waste water is converted into natural gas. Share your innovative concepts and ideas on circular economy here.
Cities occupy just 3% of the earth’s land surface, but are home to more than half of the world’s population. When we envision cities of the future, interconnectedness with nature, communities, and resources is at the heart of it all. Our team put together a cities vision taking us on a vivid journey to a city in 2050. Lush, green, healthy, sustainable, and livable.
We hope that tangible, and positive image of what cities could look like in the future can bring different groups together, to build the right conditions and drive the actions to achieve it. Our vision is one of many such images, and we would love to hear from you about what you like, dislike, and what your city of the future looks like. In particular, we'd like to move away from a techno-futurist ideal.
Cities of tomorrow will emerge from the cities of today. Just as important as the conversations about what we would like to change, are the conversations about what we would like to keep! What would you keep, from your current city, for decades to come? Take a look and let us know what you think!
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Deze 24 tot 32 ondernemers uit Centrum, Nieuw-West, West, Noord, Oost, Zuidoost, Zuid en stadsgebied Weesp winnen een ondernemersprogramma ter waarde van €2.500,- en maken kans op een aanvullend ontwikkelbudget van €2.500,-, €5.000,- of €7.500,-. Tijdens de finale op 30 juni worden er drie juryprijzen én drie publieksprijzen uitgereikt.
De Boost je Buurt inschrijving start op 10 januari. De deadline voor het aanmelden voor Boost je Buurt is 25 februari 23.59 uur.
Meer informatie en aanmelden kan via amsterdam.nl/boost-je-buurt.
The 10th episode in the series Better cities: The contribution of digital technology deals with the impact of ethical principles on four pillars of digitization: accessibility, software, infrastructure and data.
In the previous episode, I discussed design principles - guidelines and values - for digital technology. The report of the Rathenau Instituut Opwaarderen - Borgen van publieke waarden in de digitale samenleving concludes that government, industry, and society are still insufficiently using these principles. Below, I will consider their impact on four pillars of digitization: accessibility, software, infrastructure, and data. The next episodes will be focused on their impact on frequently used technologies.
Accessibility refers to the availability of high-speed Internet for everyone. This goes beyond just technical access. It also means that a municipality ensures that digital content is understandable and that citizens can use the options offered. Finally, everyone should have a working computer.
Free and safe Internet for all residents is a valuable amenity, including Wi-Fi in public areas. Leaving the latter to private providers such as the LinkNYC advertising kiosks in New York, which are popping up in other cities as well, is a bad thing. Companies such as Sidewalk Labs tempt municipalities by installing these kiosks for free. They are equipped with sensors that collect a huge amount of data from every device that connects to the Wi-Fi network: Not only the location and the operating system, but also the MAC address. With the help of analytical techniques, the route taken can be reconstructed. Combined with other public data from Facebook or Google, they provide insight into personal interests, sexual orientation, race, and political opinion of visitors.
The huge internet that connects everything and everyone also raises specters, which have to do with privacy-related uncertainty and forms of abuse, which appeared to include hacking of equipment that regulates your heartbeat.
That is why there is a wide search for alternatives. Worldwide, P2P neighborhood initiatives occur for a private network. Many of these are part of The Things Network. Instead of Wi-Fi, this network uses a protocol called LoRaWAN. Robust end-to-end encryption means that users don't have to worry about secure wireless hotspots, mobile data plans, or faltering Wi-Fi connectivity. The Things Network manages thousands of gateways and provides coverage to millions of people and a suite of open tools that enable citizens and entrepreneurs to build IoT applications at a low cost, with maximum security and that are easy to scale.
Computer programs provide diverse applications, ranging from word processing to management systems. Looking for solutions that best fit the guidelines and ethical principles mentioned in the former episode, we quickly arrive at open-source software, as opposed to proprietary products from commercial providers. Not that the latter are objectionable in advance or that they are always more expensive. The most important thing to pay attention to is interchangeability (interoperability) with products from other providers to prevent you cannot get rid of them (lock in).
Open-source software offers advantages over proprietary solutions, especially if municipalities encourage city-wide use. Barcelona is leading the way in this regard. The city aims to fully self-manage its ICT services and radically improve digital public services, including privacy by design. This results in data sovereignty and in the use of free software, open data formats, open standards, interoperability and reusable applications and services.
Anyone looking for open-source software cannot ignore the Fiwarecommunity, which is similar in organization to Linux and consists of companies, start-ups and freelance developers and originated from an initiative of the EU. Fiware is providing open and sustainable software around public, royalty-free and implementation-driven standards.
Computers are no longer the largest group of components of the digital infrastructure. Their number has been surpassed by so-called ubiquitous sensor networks (USN), such as smart meters, CCTV, microphones, and sensors. Sensor networks have the most diverse tasks, they monitor the environment (air quality, traffic density, unwanted visitors) and they are in machines, trains, and cars and even in people to transmit information about the functioning of vital components. Mike Matson calculated that by 2050 a city of 2 million inhabitants will have as many as a billion sensors, all connected by millions of kilometers of fiber optic cable or via Wi-Fi with data centers, carrier hotels (nodes where private networks converge) to eventually the Internet.
This hierarchically organized cross-linking is at odds with the guidelines and ethical principles formulated in the previous post. Internet criminals are given free rein and data breaches can spread like wildfires, like denial of service (DoS). In addition, the energy consumption is enormous, apart from blockchain. Edge computing is a viable alternative. The processing of the data is done locally and only results are uploaded on demand. This applies to sensors, mobile phones and possibly automated cars as well. A good example is the Array of Things Initiative. Ultimately, this will include 500 sensors, which will be installed in consultation with the population in Chicago. Their data is stored in each sensor apart and can be consulted online, if necessary, always involving several sensors and part of the data. Federated data systems are comparable. Data is stored in a decentralized way, but authorized users can use all data thanks to user interfaces.
There is a growing realization that when it comes to data, not only quantity, but also quality counts. I will highlight some aspects.
Access to data
Personal data should only be available with permission from the owner. To protect this data, the EU project Decode proposes that owners can manage their data via blockchain technology. Many cities now have privacy guidelines, but only a few conduct privacy impact assessments as part of its data policy (p.18).
There is growing evidence that much of the data used in artificial intelligence as “learning sets” is flawed. This had already become painfully clear from facial recognition data in which minority groups are disproportionately represented. New research shows that this is also true in the field of healthcare. This involves data cascades, a sum of successive errors, the consequences of which only become clear after some time. Data turned out to be irrelevant, incomplete, incomparable, and even manipulated.
Those for whom high-quality data is of great importance will pay extra attention to its collection. In. this case, initiating a data common is a godsend. Commons are shared resources managed by empowered communities based on mutually agreed and enforced rules. An example is the Data and Knowledge Hub for Healthy Urban Living (p.152), in which governments, companies, environmental groups and residents collect data for the development of a healthy living environment, using a federated data system. These groups are not only interested in the data, but also in the impact of its application.
Many cities apply the 'open by default' principle and make most of the data public, although the user-friendliness and efficiency sometimes leave something to be desired. Various data management systems are available as an open-source portal. One of the most prominent ones is CKAN, administered by the Open Knowledge Foundation. It contains tools for managing, publishing, finding, using, and sharing data collections. It offers an extensive search function and allows the possibility to view data in the form of maps, graphs, and tables. There is an active community of users who continue to develop the system and adapt it locally.
To make the data accessible, some cities also offer training courses and workshops. Barcelona's Open Data Challenge is an initiative for secondary school students that introduces them to the city's vast dat collection.
As the size of the collected data, the amount of entry points and the connectivity on the Internet increase, the security risks also become more severe. Decentralization, through edge computing and federated storage with blockchain technology, certainly contribute to security. But there is still a long way to go. Only half of the cities has a senior policy officer in this area. Techniques for authentication, encryption and signing that together form the basis for attribute-based identity are applied only incidentally. This involves determining identity based on several characteristics of a user, such as function and location. Something completely different is Me and my shadow, a project that teaches Internet users to minimize their own trail and thus their visibility to Internet criminality.
There is still a world to win before the guidelines and ethical principles mentioned in the previous episode are sufficiently met. I emphasize again not to over-accentuate concepts such as 'big data', 'data-oriented policy' and the size of data sets. Instead, it is advisable to re-examine the foundations of scientific research. First and foremost is knowledge of the domain (1), resulting in research questions (2), followed by the choice of an appropriate research method (3), defining the type of data to be collected (4), the collection of these data (5), and finally their statistical processing to find evidence for substantiated hypothetical connections (6). The discussion of machine learning in the next episode will reveal that automatic processing of large data sets is mainly about discovering statistical connections, and that can have dire consequences.
Follow the link below to find one of the previous episodes or see which episodes are next, and this one for the Dutch version.
Op confronterende, inspirerende en energieke wijze ondervinden deelnemende bedrijven wat de uitdagingen en kansen zijn van vernieuwende businessmodellen met maatschappelijke en ecologische impact. De wereldwijde economie en maatschappij is in transitie en wij hebben hierin een rol te spelen. Maar hoe is de vraag… Met praktische cases wordt duidelijk wat er daadwerkelijk nodig is voor de duurzame groei van een bedrijf en vergroten van de impact op de wereld.
De workshopleider is Nick Stevens.
15.00u - 17.00u
Aanmelden kan via https://go-nh.nl/agenda/
Deze Masterclass is voor startups en innovatieve MKB-bedrijven die zich met hun baanbrekende innovaties in de groeifase bevinden. Zij hebben al tractie door omzet uit klanten en/of pilots. Ondernemers maken kennis met de succesvoorwaarden voor groei. Denk hierbij aan focus op herhaalbaarheid en schaalbaarheid van product/service, businessmodel, team, infrastructuur, verkoop en organisatie.
15:00 – 16:30
Aanmelden kan via https://go-nh.nl/agenda/
Ben jij ondernemer in de textielbranche en benieuwd naar circulaire business kansen voor jouw bedrijf?
In februari 2022 organiseert de CIRCO HUB Noord-Holland een track omtrent textiel hergebruik & recycling waarin je onder begeleiding concrete stappen zet in het (her)ontwikkelen van nieuwe, circulaire producten, diensten of businessmodellen.
Meer weten en circulaire kansen ontdekken? Neem dan snel een kijkje en meld je aan voor deze driedaagse CIRCO Track.
CIRCO Hub Noord-Holland bestaat uit Impact Hub Amsterdam, Noorderwind, Stichting Circulair West en Natuur en Milieufederatie Noord-Holland en draagt bij aan het verspreiden van kennis over circulair ontwerpen en ondernemen. Door het aanbieden van verschillende CIRCO Tracks helpen we MKB in diverse sectoren om nieuwe circulaire ondernemingskansen te ontwikkelen.
You're invited the No Waste Challenge 2021 Demo Day organized by What Design Can Do & Impact Hub Amsterdam!
About this event
After taking part in the half-year Development Programme, 16 winning teams of the No Waste Challenge will present their project, business case, their ambitions and their biggest needs moving forward, such as funding to scale-up, strategic partners, launching customers and specific expertise.
Get to meet these amazing creative entrepreneurs and enter in conversations with them in different breakouts. We promise you, you’ll leave the digital space inspired and engaged!
RESERVE YOUR (ONLINE) SPOT HERE!
The No Waste Challenge called on creative entrepreneurs and designers all over the world to submit innovative, design driven solutions to the catastrophic waste issues the world is facing. From the more than 1400 entries, an international jury of design and climate experts selected the most professional, promising creative startups that submitted the most impactful and feasible design driven innovations to join the challenge’s development programme.
It’s all about the money: A Smart RESILIO Blue-Green Roof might sound a little pricey. But is money all what counts? Are these roofs affordable? In this third part of the RESILIO blue-green roofs movie sequence we explain to you the overall value and benefits for the society and how to approach these in a financial matter. Maybe we have to broaden our view on how we assign value to an object and use these outcomes as a solution for financing. Daniel van den Buuse, PhD and Hans de Moel tell us all.
The eighth episode in the series Better cities - The contribution of digital technology provides a frame to seamlessly integrate the contribution of (digital) technology into urban policy. The Dutch versions of this and already published posts are here.
From the very first publication on smart cities (1992) to the present day, the solution of urban problems has been mentioned as a motive for the application of (digital) technology. However, this relationship is anything but obvious. Think of the discriminatory effect of the use of artificial intelligence by the police in the US – to which I will come back later – and of the misery it has caused in the allowance affair (toelagenaffaire) in the Netherlands.
The choice and application of (digital) technology is therefore part of a careful and democratic process, in which priorities are set and resources are weighed up. See also the article by Jan-Willem Wesselink and Hans Dekker: Smart city enhances quality of life and puts citizen first (p.15). Below, I propose a frame for such a process, on which I will built in the next five posts.
My proposal is an iterative process in which three clusters of activities can be distinguished:
• Developing a vision of the city
• The development and choice of objectives
• The instrumentation of the objectives
Vision of the city
The starting point for a democratic urban policy is a broadly supported vision of the city and its development. Citizens and other stakeholders must be able to identify with this vision and their voice must have been heard. The vision of the city is the result of a multitude of opposing or abrasive insights, wishes and interests. Balancing the power differences between parties involved is a precondition for making the city more just, inclusive, and democratic and the residents happier.
The concept of a donut economy is the best framework I know of for developing a vision of such a city. It has been elaborated by British economist Kate Raworth in a report entitled A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The report takes the simultaneous application of social and environmental sustainability as principles for policy.
If you look at a doughnut, you see a small circle in the middle and a larger circle on the outside. The small circle represents 12 principles of social sustainability (basic needs). These principles are in line with the UN's development goals. The larger circle represents 9 principles of the earth’ long-term self-sustaining capacity. A table with both types of principles can be viewed here. Human activities in cities must not overshoot its ecological ceiling, thus harming the self-sustainable capacity of that entity. At the same time, these activities must not shortfall the social foundation of that city, harming its long-term well-being. Between both circles, a safe and just space for humanity - now and in the future - is created. These principles relate to both the city itself and its impact on the rest of the world. Based on these principles, the city can determine in which areas it falls short; think of housing, gender equality and it overshoots the ecological ceiling, for instance, in case of greenhouse gas emissions.
Amsterdam went through this process, together with Kate Raworth. During interactive sessions, a city donut has been created. Citizens from seven different neighborhoods, civil servants and politicians took part in this. The Amsterdam city donut is worth exploring closely.
The urban donut provides a broad vision of urban development, in particular because of the reference to both social and ecological principles and its global footprint. The first version is certainly no final version. It is obvious how Amsterdam has struggled with the description of the impact of the international dimension.
The formulation of desired objectives
Politicians and citizens will mention the most important bottlenecks within their city, even without the city donut. For Amsterdam these are themes like the waste problem, the climate transition, reduction of car use, affordable housing, and inclusion. The Amsterdam donut invites to look at these problems from multiple perspectives: A wide range of social implications, the ecological impact, and the international dimension. This lays the foundation for the formulation of objectives.
Five steps can be distinguished in the formulation of objectives:
• Determine where the most important bottlenecks are located for each of the selected themes, partly based on the city donut (problem analysis), for example insufficient greenery in the neighborhoods.
• Collect data on the existing situation about these bottlenecks. For example, the fact that working-class neighborhoods have four times fewer trees per hectare than middle-class neighborhoods.
• Make provisional choices about the desired improvement of these bottlenecks. For example, doubling the number of trees in five years.
• Formulate the way in which the gap between existing and desired situation can be bridged. For example, replacing parking spaces with trees or facade vegetation.
• Formulate (provisional) objectives.
This process also takes place together with stakeholders. More than 100 people were involved in the development of the circular economy plans in Amsterdam, mainly representatives of the municipalities, companies, and knowledge institutions.
Prioritizing objectives and their instrumentation
Given the provisional objectives, the search can begin for available and desirable resources, varying from information, legal measures, reorganization to (digital) techniques. The expected effectiveness, desired coherence, acceptability, and costs must be considered. With this knowledge, the goals can be formulated definitively and prioritized. It is also desirable to distinguish a short-term and long-term perspective to enable the development of innovative solutions.
The inventory, selection and ethical assessment of resources and the related fine-tuning of the objectives is best done in the first instance by teams representing different disciplines, including expertise in the field of digital technology, followed of course by democratic sanctioning.
My preference is to transfer the instrumentation process to an 'Urban Development and Innovation Department', modeled on the Majors Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) in Boston. Changing teams can be put together from this office, which is strongly branched out with the other departments. In this way, the coherence between the individual goals and action points and the input of scientific research can be safeguarded. According to Ben Green, the author of the book The smart enough city and who has worked in MONUM for years, it has been shown time and again that the effect of technological innovation is enhanced when it is combined with other forms of innovation, such as social innovation.
From vision to action points: Overview
Below I give an overview of the most important building blocks for arriving at a vision and developing action points based on this vision:
1. The process from vision to action points is both linear and iterative. Distinguishing between the phases of vision development, formulating objectives and instrumentation is useful, but these phases influence each other mutually and eventually form a networked process.
2. Urban problems are always complicated, full of internal contradictions and complex. There are therefore seldom single solutions.
3. The mayor (and therefore not a separate alderman) is primarily responsible for coherence within the policy agenda, including the use of (digital) technology. This preferably translates into the structure of the municipal organization, for example an 'Urban Development and Innovation Department'.
4. Formulating a vision, objectives and their instrumentation is part of a democratic process. Both elected representatives and stakeholders play an important role in this.
5. Because of their complexity and coherence, the content of the policy agenda usually transcends the direct interests of the stakeholders, but they must experience that their problems are being addressed too.
6. Ultimately, each city chooses a series of related actions to arrive at an effective, efficient, and supported solution to its problems. The choice of these actions, especially when it comes to (digital) techniques, can always be explained as a function of the addressing problems.
7. The use of technology fits seamlessly into the urban agenda, instead of (re)framing problems to match tempting technologies.
8. Implementation is at least as important as grand plans, but without a vision, concrete plans lose their legitimacy and support.
9. In the search for support for solutions and the implementation of plans, there is collaboration with stakeholders, and they can be given the authority and resources to tackle problems and experiment themselves (‘right to challenge’).
10. In many urban problems, addressing the harmful effects of previously used technologies (varying from greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution to diseases of affluence) is a necessary starting point.
Back to digital technology
(Digital) technology is here to stay and it is developing at a rapid pace. Sometimes you wish it would slow down. It is very regrettable that not democratically elected governments, but Big Tech is the driving force behind the development of technology and that its development is therefore primarily motivated by commercial interests. This calls for resistance against Big Tech's monopoly and for reticence towards their products. By contrast, companies working on technological developments that support a sustainable urban agenda deserve all the support.
In my e-book Cities of the Future. Humane as a choice. Smart where that helps, I performed the exercise described in this post based on current knowledge about urban policy and urban developments. This has led to the identification of 13 themes and 75 action points, where possible with references to potentially useful technology. You can download the e-book here.
We are building a new city in a national metaverse connected with a smart city and the Internet of People. Are you interested in such projects? We are looking for cooperation within the international community of builders of our Metaverse new and brand new Smart Cities.
NEOS Cities and Country
The New System consists of modern municipalities, cities and the Polish state managed from the bottom up by the nation, where decisions are made on the basis of reliable and credible information, and thanks to Blockchain technology, everything is transparent and open to the public.
NEOS Country Towns and Villages services include:
- Setting up companies in DAO blockchain
- A city with services for users
- IVoting or voting over the Internet
- Simulation of city development scenarios
- City management like a game
- Export of tried and tested solutions
Haarlem werkt aan een duurzame stad. Aan de bouw en renovatie
van gebouwen worden dus duurzame eisen gesteld. Op het terrein van het
voormalige Slachthuis komt een nieuwe wijk waarvoor alles wordt
Op het Slachthuisterrein komt een aantrekkelijk en duurzaam
nieuw stukje stad. Alles wordt hergebruikt, van asfalt en koelceldelen
tot stenen en hout. Ontwikkelcombinatie BPD – De Nijs B.V. kreeg de
opdracht van de gemeente. Projectmanager Theresa Manoch van BPD vertelt
over de duurzame bouwaspecten.
Theresa: “Net als de gemeente vinden we het belangrijk dat het nieuwe
terrein een plek vóór en dóór de buurt is. Door leuke dingen te
organiseren zoals concerten en koffiemomenten, leren mensen de plek
kennen. We horen van buurtbewoners dat ze dit waarderen.” BPD won eind
2018 de aanbesteding met het concept ‘Goedemorgen’. Hierin wordt
rekening gehouden met ruimte om elkaar ontmoeten. Ook is er een
mobiliteitsplan (minder plek auto’s maar meer laadpalen), worden
monumenten hersteld en het terrein aan de buurt teruggegeven.
Tijdens de bouw wordt aan de buurt en duurzaamheid gedacht. Zo is een
heitechniek met holle draaipalen gebruikt dat voor minder geluid zorgt.
Op het bouwterrein ligt asfalt van 97% gerecycled materiaal omdat zware
bouwauto’s op asfalt minder lawaai maken dan op bouwplaten. Ook wordt
er elektrisch gesloopt, met minder geluid en CO2-uitstoot.
‘Alles wat er is, houden’
“De basisgedachte is dat we zoveel mogelijk van de gebouwen in tact
laten. Bij alles wat er tijdens het renoveren uit de panden wordt
gehaald, stellen we de vraag ‘wat kunnen we ermee doen’? Zo is het
weggehaalde beton gebruikt voor de fundering van de wegen. En als
hergebruik op het terrein niet lukt, kijken we waar het wel naar toe
kan. Zo zijn oude koelceldelen naar Kenia gegaan en daar weer opgebouwd
bij een rozenkweker. Dat klinkt misschien niet duurzaam maar als ze
nieuw zouden worden aangeschaft, gaan ze ook vanuit Europa met een schip
Water en regentonnen
Op het terrein komt een waterberging met een waterspeelplein. Dit
zijn tegelijkertijd ook plekken waar een teveel aan regenwater wordt
opgevangen. Hemel- en rioolwater wordt gescheiden, zodat regenwater in
de grond kan verdwijnen. Het dak van het Slachthuis wordt voor een deel
vergroend om regenwater vast te houden. Ook krijgen alle nieuwbouwhuizen
een regenton om regenwater te gebruiken om bijvoorbeeld planten water
Warmte uit zomer, gebruiken in de winter
Theresa: “Op het terrein komt een warmtekoudebron. Met deze techniek
wordt ’s zomers overtollige warmte in het grondwater opgeslagen voor
gebruik in de winter. Er komen drie bronnen met een centraal systeem
waarmee we de bestaande bouw verduurzamen. En het mooie is dat ook
huizen om het terrein heen kunnen worden aangesloten op dit systeem!”
Muziek, poppodium en theehuis
Op het Slachthuisterrein staan straks ruim 160 nieuwbouwwoningen en
in de oude, monumentale gebouwen zullen voorzieningen voor
buurtbewoners, bezoekers en ondernemers zijn. Er komt een muziekschool,
poppodium, theehuis, restaurant en bedrijfsruimten voor startende
ondernemers. Het wordt een bijzondere ontmoetingsplek met een rijk
Naar verwachting wordt eind 2023 het Slachthuisterrein opgeleverd. Meer informatie op Slachthuisterrein Haarlem.
This is the second part of a 5-piece movie on RESILIO blue-green roofs. We meet an expert on participation from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences ánd a resident from a social housing association de Alliantie complex on which a RESILIO Smart Blue-Green Roof just has been realized. We asked ourselves during the whole lifespan of RESILIO: How can we make smart sustainable solutions a hot and urgent topic for our citizens?
#participatie #socialhousing #heatstress #verduurzaming #resilientcommunities #residentengagement #indischebuurt
How do we develop sustainable and nature-inclusive cities? Starting from this question, earth-scientist and artist Esmee Geerken created the course 'Urban Ecology: building as being' for the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture. Young architecture professionals examined crossovers between ecology and architecture, and ways to apply this by building in interaction with the environment.
Within a case study at the Amsterdam Science Park, they designed building proposals in which complexity, biodiversity, ecology and self-organization are central. Their ideas show us possibilities on how we can make urban areas more inclusive, sustainable and diverse.
On Saturday January 15 from 15:00 to 16:30 hrs, they will present their designs. Register now to attend the presentations online.
Dirk Dekker is the co-founder and CEO of Being, a real estate developer that develops sustainable environments with the context of these environments in mind.
“Being part of something bigger: that’s our tagline. The work we do is not about us as a company but about the bigger picture. We are part of something bigger and want to positively influence the real estate market in the Netherlands. We also want to prove that you can do something good for society and make a profit.
We’re not content to simply discover a location to build on; there has to be a need for us to add a positive impact too. For us, this means adopting a holistic approach to projects based on four impact pillars: personal impact, public impact, ecological impact and economic impact. We research each site’s history and talk to various people: an environmental psychologist or city biologist, for example. We interview stakeholders: future users and local residents and organisations. As you might expect, we put together a business case as well.
As I see it, the different perspectives don’t result in concessions but in the creation of more value, which isn’t always possible to express in euros. One good example of this is YOTEL, a hotel we developed in the up-and-coming Buiksloterham urban district in Amsterdam. Interviews showed that neighbours wanted to see more public green spaces and accessible hospitality. We listened and made sure both were included in our design. The hotel has integrated into the neighbourhood well, from both a social and sustainable point of view. We also ‘greened’ the rear façade of The Pavilion office building in the Zuidas business district, because it faces a graveyard. It’s important for people, planet and profit to be in balance.”
“I’m inspired by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) philosophy on architecture too. BIG does research to design well in extreme conditions—in the dessert or on the moon, for example. By carefully considering the context, it becomes possible to design something that complements the environment in question. Add nature into the equation and you have what is referred to in the industry as ‘biophilic design’. Mother Nature’s research department has far more experience than all the rest of us put together, so there’s a huge amount for us to learn from.
My ideal city is one with views that extend beyond the four years of a political term of office. It’s a place where residents are involved in decision-making, which is very achievable given the amazing digital resources at our disposal today in 2021. For example, I live in Amsterdam-West, where residents have been asked to vote on the € 300,000 our urban district has to spend on green and social initiatives suggested by citizens. That’s how you create a city together.”
“Green needs to be added not just next to buildings but on and in them too. And not just in stiff flowerbeds or like a green wallpaper of sorts; a far more natural approach is vital. Trees and plants communicate with and learn from each other via underground nature networks. Our job is to make sure this is possible in urbanised environments. The Fantastic Fungi Netflix documentary is a really useful programme to watch on this subject.
There’s a connection between all of the individual elements that make a city what it is. I would like to see politicians and the business sector immersing themselves in these networks far more and also looking very closely at everything happening on platforms like Amsterdam Smart City. Networks like this are essential for the future of our city and for connective growth.”
If you’d like to get in touch with Dirk, you can find him on this platform.
This interview is part of the series 'Meet the Members of Amsterdam Smart City'. In the next weeks we will introduce more members of this community to you. Would you like to show up in the series? Drop us a message!
Interview and article by Mirjam Streefkerk
Our cities are evolving. Fast. How can we ensure they are sustainable, liveable, and healthy?
Metabolic has developed a nature-inclusive, community-centered, and circular city's vision.
This vision of the "ideal" city is only one of many. What's your favorite? Please share the story, vision, book, podcast, or image that best represents the city you hope to live in, one day.
Today we will launch our brand new five-part movie series of RESILIO!
This serie will dive into the different approaches & researches within the project and the partners with their specific expertises. In the first one Kasper Spaan from water company Waternet and Friso Klapwijk MetroPolder Company explain you how smart micro watermanagement can be of paramount importance to a complete city. It’s not just a drop in the ocean... check it out here:
What advice would you give to mayors of cities worldwide? In the first season of the Mayor's Manual Podcast, Sacha Stolp (Director of Future-Proof Assets, City of Amsterdam) and Kenneth Heijns (Managing Director of AMS Institute) have embarked on a journey to discuss solutions for urban challanges together with over 50 frontrunners from different countries working for governmental institutions, knowledge institutions and businesses. Each frontrunner was asked what advice they would give to Mayors and cities worldwide. The Mayor’s Manual Book Edition is a compilation of these advices accompanied by 6 Essays written by guest writers. The book is meant not only to inspire, but also to provide actionable recommendations for cities globally.
We invite you to read the first Mayor’s Manual Book and share
your insights with us!
Download the book for free on our website or by clicking here.
Currently, we are working on a Dutch edition so keep an eye on our site
At the Digital Society Showcase (DSS) we proudly share how our projects and courses activate a new generation’s potential to positively impact the digital transformation of society. Find out how to obtain a responsible, inclusive mindset, how to integrate technology in society and how to design for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
16:00 CET | start of live talkshow
16:30 CET | opening expo (ongoing)
17:00 CET | closing the live talkshow
18:15 CET | closing the expo
Live Talk Show
At 16:00 we kick-off with an interactive and live talkshow about Transformational Leadership, Learning Revolution and Sustainability, Diversity and Digital transformation.
With topic experts we discuss the following questions:
- What is needed to lead the transformation of todays world and digital society to become more inclusive, sustainable and living-future-proof?
- How is DSS changing the learning game from within the AUAS? What impact do we think education has on the needed transformation of crumbling systems around us?
- How is the AUAS growing these topics within the organisation, education and research? And how is DSS impacting these topics via our programs and products?
Discover the 7 projects
In 20 weeks an international, highly talented group of trainees worked on finding solutions for the most urgent challenges that relate to the digital transformation of society. In multidisciplinary teams they worked with our project partners, under the guidance of a ‘Digital Transformation Designer’, their track community, and the rest of the Digital Society School team.
During the showcase the teams will show you the prototypes and explain how they contributed to the Digital Transformation of Society and the Sustainable Development Goals. The different tracks (thematic programs) will also present themselves and discuss how design, tech and social innovation can have a positive impact on sustainable development.
Ronald Smallenburg is co-founder of Pontiflex, a start-up which designs modular bridges out of sustainable materials.
“My business partner Joris Vermeulen and I started Pontiflex a few years ago. A key motivator was the state of the Nescio Bridge for bicycles spanning the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal between the Amsterdam suburb of IJburg and the city itself. This €15 million bridge opened in 2006, but only a few years later, its steel started to rust. It served as an inspiration to start thinking about designing more sustainable bridges on a competitive budget.
Joris asked me to join him in searching for solutions. We discovered there is a huge market for bridges and other infrastructure. A major portion of the post-WW2, so-called ‘boomer infrastructure’ in the Netherlands is at the end of its lifetime—just as it is in most Western countries. It needs to be replaced, repaired or refurbished as well as expanded, especially given the growth in cycling seen everywhere in the Western world. At the same time, society requires more sustainability. We saw excellent business opportunities.”
“At Pontiflex, we believe we all need to find alternatives to classic steel and concrete, the building sector’s key materials. Their production is one of the most polluting processes in terms of CO2 emissions. That’s why we started to look for sustainable alternatives to use in new construction. They include FSC-certified wood, a revolutionary bio-composite, recycled plastics and cementless concrete made from old asphalt and industrial waste. Over the years, we were granted a total of four subsidies to finance our search for the best sustainable materials to use in new bridge construction.
Our answer to modern-day challenges is to double sustainability. Our modular bridges combine easy-to-build-and-adapt bridges with circular materials. Every element of our bridges can be replaced or reused at any time, independent of each other. This means that we can quickly build a bridge, or disassemble and move it if necessary, or adapt to new conditions, including length and width.”
“Developing sustainable infrastructure is challenging given the conservatism in the sector. I believe that the public sector and the industry need vision and boldness. Vision for a sustainable infrastructure, boldness in daring to design and implement new constructions and materials, either as a public client or as an architect, engineer or contractor. Calculated risks are the key words here. Do your research and test thoroughly, but dare to be different and accept your losses or approve your gains.”
New generation of infrastructure
“We participate in GO!-NH, an innovation program of the province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands. With programs such as these, we expand our network and learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs. I’m still new to Amsterdam Smart City, but I’m open to new connections. I’m also happy to share my entrepreneurial experience in the field of sustainability.
The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, and the Netherlands in general, offers a lot of creativity. Here, there are many people with different backgrounds and ideas. The construction industry will benefit greatly if we tap into this diversity—not only because we need more technicians, but because we also need people who think differently. Women, migrants and refugees can provide the industry with new input and new creativity, which is crucial for a new generation of infrastructure.”
If you’d like to get in touch with Ronald, you can find himon this platform.
This interview is part of the series 'Meet the Members of Amsterdam Smart City'. In the next weeks we will introduce more members of this community to you. Would you like show up in the series? Drop us a message!
Interview and article by Mirjam Streefkerk