Citizens & Living

To keep Amsterdam liveable the municipality collaborates with its citizens. On average Amsterdam’s population grows with 10.000 people a year. This small big city has a density of 5065 people per square km, over 180 different nationalities. 19% of the total Dutch GDP is earned in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Between 2015 and 2016, the amount of tourists in Amsterdam increased by 7%. To keep Amsterdam’s 162 canals, monumental centre and residential areas liveable, innovative initiatives are required. Share your innovative concepts and ideas here!

Frans-Anton Vermast, Strategy Advisor & International Smart City Ambassador at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Tips for Citizen engagement

Frans-Anton Vermast's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Having a good webcare team is not being a good government

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The newspaper Algemeen Dagblad stated that municipalities respond quick and adequate to citizens’ complaints on Twitter. It is no surprise that the number of social media interactions between citizens and the local government increases. However, social media is just one way to connect with a specific kind of citizen and responding on social media is not all the municipality has to do with respect to monitoring the public sphere.

The role of webcare teams is primarily that of a translator: he translates the citizens’ emotional complaint regarding garbage on the street into a well formulated work order in a computer system. Depending on the kind of work order, the maintenance team has a service level agreement to solve the problem within 24 hours or within several days. The social media team tweets back: “Oh yes that’s messy! I have announced in our system. My colleague from maintenance will go after is as soon as possible”. And following on the positive statement of Algemeen Dagblad, I assume that the standard terms to solve a problem are rightly chosen: the social media complaints are not solved faster than ‘regular’ complaints.

Despite the positive experiences, having a good webcare team does not equal being a good government for all inhabitants. Firstly because most social media posts should be perceived as a complaint instead of a dialogue. Second, because people posting complaints on social media represent a limited number of people. Third, because a municipality has an own responsibility in managing the public sphere. Let’s have a closer look at this three remarks to the so-called social media “beep system”.

Complaint rather than a dialogue

As a government you want to communicate in a two-way relation with citizens. However, too often a complaining citizen is confused with a citizen who wants to share his ideas. If the social media relationship between the municipality and the citizen is exclusively about complaints and not on ideas then we miss opportunities to improve. Thus: a social media team should not only translate the complaint into a work order, but should also start the dialogue on continues improvement opportunities. A good example of this approach is the “gardener initiative” of the municipality of Sittard. The dialogue on this Facebook site is moved from demanding for and delivering of solutions to sharing ideas.

Who is complaining

My second remark to the “beep system” is that the type of citizen posting messages is limited. In general, they are citizens who speak up to the government. However, many people (especially from lower social classes) do not. Managing the public sphere at the basis of “beeps” from citizens result in very clean streets in neighborhoods with many posting citizens (mostly higher social classes), and dirty streets in neighborhoods where people do not complain. As an alternative, municipalities should develop tools to measure the quality of neighborhoods. In the one neighborhood the ‘beep system’ is sufficient, in the other it is definitely not.

Own responsibility

Finally, the municipality has an own responsibility which cannot be handed over to citizens. Too often, cost reduction is implemented under the title “enforcing citizen participation”. That citizen participation leads to cost saving does not proof that cost saving is also leading to citizen participation. The challenging task for every municipality is to build a system wherein social media interaction, citizen participation, professional inspection and cost saving go hand-in-hand. Initiatives as the gardener of Sittard are inspiring examples of building this new ecosystems wherein every participant can play its own role.

Check the article in Algemeen Dagblad:

Check the gardener of Sittard on Facebook:

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Leonie Kok-Tiddens, country manager Nederland at Civocracy, posted

Successful citizen participation in Losser municipality

Losser municipality wants to develop dog policy in collaboration with its citizens. Losser used Civocracy for digital participation. During 6 weeks all citizens were able to contribute to the online discussion. Over 50 constructive comments were posted. This input will now be used in developing the dog policy.

Leonie Kok-Tiddens's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Managing the public space using daily insights: the mailman collects data

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The way we monitor the quality of the public space is changing. In the past, municipalities hired gardeners and assigned them to mow the lawn twenty times a year. Later, they instructed the gardeners about how the lawn should look: “I don’t care how many times you mow the lawn, but make sure it always looks like the instructions”. The municipality hired an inspector one or two times a year to check whether the gardener did a good job.

Nowadays, we see that the quality of good work is measured in the residents’ satisfaction, rather than following instructions: “no matter how many times you mow the lawn, no matter how the lawn looks like, I want the residents to give a positive evaluation for the lawn!”.

Although the definition of quality and quality measurement has changed last decades, the way of measuring quality hasn’t changed. A professional inspector is still hired to inspect the public space once or twice a year.

A lot of research has been done about influencers of citizen perception of quality in public space. For example, the level of waste on the street is an important influencer. Measuring this daily gives municipalities the possibility to improve the quality of the street every day. Different measures against waste can be tried and evaluated in a short period of time. And thus putting real effort in resident satisfaction.

To be more effective as municipality or entrepreneur in the public space, three ingredients for the monitoring system are required: Firstly, an actual overview of the current state of assets and pavements: are they clean and undamaged? Secondly, a system to measure the perceived quality of the public space, this may differ for various kinds of neighborhoods. Third, a protocol to translate this data into operational processes. Actual measurement data should be connected to operational processes far more than is done now.

Only when these three ingredients are present, different interventions on cleaning, repairing and increasing citizen satisfaction van be monitored and evaluated.

As concept developer for Amsterdam Smart City, I have conducted theoretical and applied research for a real-time based monitoring system for the public sphere. When we combine data citizens create (using social media and dedicated public space apps), data on weather conditions and events and data the mailman collects, we can build such a monitoring system.

The mailman, as eyes and ears on the street can collect data on a daily basis. For example, by taking pictures of certain locations in the city. Moreover, he can be trained to make judgements about the quality of the public space. Finally, he can check whether complaints of citizens have been solved properly.

On September 13th, the Royal Society for Waste and Cleaning management ( organizes a conference on the future of the management of the public spaces. During this day, I will give a plenary speech on the results of one and a half year’s research I conducted together with Harro Verhoeven, Simon Bos and Johan Ruijten. As an example of the projects we ran, take a look at this movie: <>

For more information on this conference, check (note: the website is in Dutch) <>

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Twenty-Seven Pink Potential Smart City Nodes in Amsterdam

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PostNL has an incredible network of letterboxes on the street. Last September, we investigated the Smart City opportunities for this network by placing sensors measuring temperature, noise and humidity on the letterboxes.

Central question: To what extend can the letterbox be used for smart city solutions as measuring heat stress, noise disturbance and measurements of local weather conditions?

To get an impression of the coverage the letterbox-network has, try the following experiment. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amsterdam Gay pride and the Euro pride event, we have turned twenty-seven of our orange letterboxes into Pride pink letterboxes and gave them a social value by doing so.

As a suggestion for the weekend, I would like to invite you to share your ideas on using letterboxes as Smart City nodes:

Use the locations of the pink letterboxes as a tour guide through the city center of Amsterdam. While walking, notice the short distance between the boxes and please think about what those letterboxes could be measuring, for example on a crowded day as the canal parade day traditionally is. Please share your ideas on the Amsterdam smart city community website!

Locations Pink Letterboxes
1. – 4. Stationsplein
5. Beursplein 2
6. Rokin 134
7. – 8. Muntplein 2
9. Rembrandtplein 16
10. Leidseplein 29
11. Nieuwmarkt 4
12. – 13. Singel 250
14. Korte Prinsengracht 109
15. Prinsengracht 241
16. Westermarkt 74
17. Prinsengracht 339
18. Elandsgracht 1
19. Looiersgracht 2
20. – 21. Prinsengracht 438
22. Kerkstraat 321
23. Fredriksplein 2
24. Kerstraat 461
25. Nieuwe Keizersgracht 2
26. Prins Hendrikkade 193A
27. Kattenburgerstraat 6

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Bpost uses cars to measure air quality - Bright future for postal organizations!

Worldwide, postal organizations are developing new services using the workforce that has an incredible presence in every street almost every day of the week. In January 2015, Accenture estimated the market value of “proximity services” as a 10 billion market within four years.

Last week I shared the project of the Spanish postal company: mailmen were hired as data collectors for the municipality of Santander. This week, the Belgian postal company announced that their cars will be used to measure air quality. Bpost has the largest fleet of vehicles in Belgium.

The network of a postal company is very interesting: it is a combination of a static network of letterboxes in the street, able for 24/7 measurement which is complemented with a dynamic network of vehicles and mailmen in every street of an entire country.

Postal companies, thus, have an incredible local presence with different networks (static and dynamic) and have the possibility to implement new strategies on a nation-wide level within a short period of time. Their workforce have a great reputation – proven by the fact that people open their door when the mailmen is at the doorstep.

Although the initiatives of Bpost and Correos are yet to be proven business cases, it is my firm belief that the future for postal organizations delivering proximity services focused on data collection is a bright one!

Source Accenture article:

Check news article of Bpost:;tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
marjan schrama, posted

Hollandcall2016: your idea for cultural heritage

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Heb jij hét idee dat het culturele erfgoed laat herleven? Doe mee met het innovatieprogramma van de provincie Noord-Holland waarmee je een succesvol product of dienst voor de cultureel-toeristische sector creëert. HollandCall is voor iedereen: start-ups, (lokale) ondernemers, studenten of juist grotere organisaties die maatschappelijk verantwoord willen ondernemen.

Heb jij hét idee dat het culturele erfgoed laat herleven? Doe mee met het innovatieprogramma van de provincie Noord-Holland waarmee je een succesvol product of dienst voor de cultureel-toeristische sector creëert. HollandCall is voor iedereen: start-ups, (lokale) ondernemers, studenten of juist grotere organisaties die maatschappelijk verantwoord willen ondernemen.

marjan schrama's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Santander City Council and Correos signed an agreement to promote initiatives "Smart City" and encourage innovation

Check this interesting article on using the mailmen as data collector in the city. Worldwide, postal companies are looking for opportunities in proximity services; mowing the lawn (Finland), checking the quality of the roads (US Post) or visiting elderly people (Belgium).

If you know other examples of Smart City Mailmen or if you have interesting thoughts on this topic, please share them here!;tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&\_corporativa-1363190531465-contenidos\_multimedia%2Fdetalle\_noticia&edit-text=&act=url

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Audrie van Veen, International Strategic Advisor at Amsterdam Economic Board, posted

Nordic Edge –Smarter Cities, Smarter Homes conference and expo Stavanger

'Nordic Edge –Smarter Cities, Smarter Homes' is a smart cities conference and expo taking place in Stavanger, Norway on 6-7 October

Nordic Edge is an essential arena for anyone interested in making cities, communities, companies and homes smarter.

Audrie van Veen's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Mailmen checking weed growth

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In June 2016, mailmen of PostNL started monitoring weed growth in Twente, an area in the Netherlands. Twente Milieu, the company responsible for keeping the City clean, asked the mailmen to take a picture of +/- 100 spots once a week. Twente Milieu uses the pictures the mailmen take for evaluating different sustainable methods for removing weed. The results of the pilot are expected in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Caroline Combé, Chief Planner at City of Amsterdam: Department of Planning and Sustainability, posted

Exhibition Volksvlijt2056

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Cities are the future. It's 2016 and Amsterdam is at the beginning of a new golden age. OBA, the library at the Ooksterdokskade, has been changed to a contemporary palace of Industry.
For more information: