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People get more connected and technology becomes part of our daily life. Between 2014 and 2015 there was a 27% growth of internet traffic in Amsterdam. Eleven out of fifteen Trans-Atlantic data cables are connected with or go through Amsterdam and the AMS-IX is the second largest internet exchange point in the world. In 2016 Amsterdam was ranked second in the European Digital City Index. Do you work on a smarter city? Share your technologies here!
City officials require sensor data to optimize operations, plan projects, or measure effects of interventions. Citizens often do not notice the sensors deployed by the City in public space. Also, the benefit for the public is not directly obvious to city residents or immediately shown by the sensing systems in place. Namely, in many cases only after data is processed, it informs an action that affects citizens.
Public concerns about sensors are often connected to concerns about potential action (to be taken by, for example, city officials), and that the action has negative implications. With ‘Simple Sensors’ we address these concerns.
The Simple Sensors project, which is part of the Responsible Sensing Lab, investigates these questions: What if sensors are designed to be seen? What if they communicate clearly what data they collect and how? And what if sensors invite you to interact with them?
Modules for responsible and ‘simple sensing’
Simple Sensors consists of a family of modules, designed by The Incredible Machine, that can be combined: some modules improve transparency over what data is being collected, other modules encourage interaction, and some modules just make it understandable how sensors work. The Simple Sensors family allows the City of Amsterdam to design sensors to fit any context or purpose.
A privacy friendly alternative for CCTV
The first Simple Sensor prototype called millimeter wave (mmWave) has been developed as a proposal for the City’s crowd management sensor at the Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab. It consists of four modules: 1) sensor module 2) transmission module, 3) data module, 4) threshold module... Continue reading about the project on our website >>
Shuttercam is a project by Responsible Sensing Lab (RSL), a collaboration between the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute. In essence, RSL is a testbed for conducting research and experiments on how smart sensing technologies in public space – like cameras – can be designed in a way that makes the digital city 'responsible’.
At the Lab we invite academics and practitioners responsible for digital systems in the city to explore how to integrate social values such as autonomy, privacy and transparency in the design of these sensing systems in public space.
How to know when a camera ‘sees’ you?
The Shuttercam project originated based on the notion that citizens currently can not directly know or see if and when cameras in public space are monitoring you or not. The project also questions the necessity for many non-security related cameras in the city to be switched on indefinitely.
Experimenting with 3 prototypes at Marineterrein
The Shuttercam project will test 3 prototypes. These are installed at Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab (MALL) in the upcoming weeks.
First and foremost, the cameras within this project are all part of the crowd monitoring system by the City of Amsterdam, which is a privacy friendly system. So what do these cameras record or see for example?
A crowd monitoring system works with a camera that has an algorithm read out and analyzes video images. In addition to measuring crowds and displaying those crowds in usable numbers, the algorithm can also determine whether people keep a distance of 1.5 meters. All this is done in an anonymous manner that naturally complies with all privacy legislation.
The video images are not watched by a human but are processed automatically. Only a few frames are saved with unrecognizable, blurred people's faces. Those frames help to "train" the algorithm. Furthermore, the images are not saved. Continue reading about the the Shuttercam project >>
As societal values change and the deployment of sensing technology becomes more ubiquitous, what are our digital rights in a 21st-century city? This dilemma is forcing municipalities to make difficult decisions about practice versus the policy of collecting data from public space. In collaboration with the City of Amsterdam, The City Innovation Exchange Lab (CITIXL) has created the Responsible Sensing Toolkit - a six-step process to help navigate this new landscape in a fast and effective way. The toolkit was co-designed by experienced city innovators to empower municipalities, organisations, and communities to implement open and inclusive sensing solutions for our 21st-century cities.
Currently in Beta, we are testing the toolkit with various organisations and cities to effectively move from theory to practice by applying the framework to sensing projects in progress. To keep updated, visit the Responsible Sensing Toolkit page and subscribe to the mailing list.
The 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is a European Commission initiative that supports 136 cities in using cutting-edge technologies to lead the intelligent, green and socially responsible recovery. The ICC cities and their local ecosystems will be engines for the recovery of their local economy, create new jobs, and strengthen citizen participation and wellbeing.
The ICC is part of a wider EU support system that recognises the importance of delivering on the promises made by the European Green Deal, the digital strategy, and other EU policies. It looks to move towards a more digital, service-oriented and low-carbon economy, supported by a knowledge-based society, that enables circular economy systems through ‘local value loops’, evidence-based reskilling, and sustainable investments.
Participating cities receive one-to-one strategic advice from international experts on fine thematic strands: green economy and local green deals, improving the citizen participation and the digitalisation of public administration, green and digital transition in tourism, resilience of local supply chains, up- and reskilling of the workforce. ICC Cities are also supported by transversal services on access to data, access to finance and through a marketplace full of innovative solutions.
The Amsterdam Region, represented by Amsterdam Economic Board and Amsterdam Smart City (ASC) is one of the ICC mentor regions, alongside European mentor cities Aarhus, Antwerp, Barcelona, Espoo, Hamburg, Nice, Porto, Rijeka and international mentors Medellin, Singapore and Toronto. By participating in the ICC, the Amsterdam Region will share its experience and learn from other best practices related to multi-stakeholder collaboration, innovation ecosystems, circular economy and citizen participation.
The City of Amsterdam has many smart technologies in place: from smart devices that measure things (i.e. sensors) to smart devices that steer processes in the city (i.e. actuators) such as traffic lights, charging stations, adaptable street lights, barriers that go up and down, and adaptive digital signs.
To illustrate, throughout the city there are over 200 cameras, about 230 air quality sensors and almost 500 beacons in place. The latter being devices in physical spaces that emit a signal that can be picked up by mobile devices with a specific app.
Smart technologies like these help the municipality to efficiently measure, analyse and steer processes in the urban area. For example to optimize mobility flows in urban environments, to better use available capacity of energy infrastructures, to conduct condition management on the city’s assets, rationalise garbage removal and much more.
Responsible Urban Digitization
On the one hand, innovations like these can help improve the quality of life in the city and enhance safety and efficiency, but also sustainability and livability. Simultaneously, such novel technologies can impact society quite broadly. They could have consequences for matters that citizens value greatly, such as autonomy, privacy, transparency, inclusiveness and empowerment.
“The City does not want its inhabitants negatively impacted by potential privacy infringements, sense of loss of control and understandability, or reactions such as self-censorship.” - Sigrid Winkel | Urban Innovation Officer | City of Amsterdam CTO
“Our recent research has pointed out that ‘official’ actors primarily see transparency as a mean to ensure adoption, while citizens see transparency as a starting point for voicing their concerns and influencing the purpose and use of smart technology. This leads us to conclude that we - as designers of these systems - need to aim to design these systems for engagement as well as pushback by society.” - Gerd Kortuem | Professor & AMS PI
Launching a Responsible Sensing Lab
With our Responsible Urban Digitization program, we research, develop and integrate smart technologies like the aforementioned to help solve urban challenges. At the same time, we explore how to embed society’s public and democratic values in the design of these innovations.
As part of this program, we are launching a Responsible Sensing Lab. In essence this is a testbed for conducting rigorous, transparent, and replicable research how our smart technologies placed in public space can be designed in a way that makes the digital city ‘responsible’.
(Re)designing, prototype testing and implementing responsible sensing systems
In the Responsible Sensing Lab academics are invited to connect and work with practitioners who are responsible for digital systems in the city to (re)design, prototype and test (more) responsible ways of sensing in public space for and with the City of Amsterdam.
Hence, the Lab is a place where teams of multi-disciplinary stakeholders – such as computer scientists, policy makers, psychologists, designers and hardware experts – can address existing hardware, software and other city sensing systems.
“Responsible Sensing Lab is a place where experimentation and technologies come together to (re)design these innovations solutions that make public spaces cleaner, smarter and easier – while at the same time guaranteeing our social values.” - Thijs Turèl | Program Manager Responsible Urban Digitization | AMS Institute
Three cases: Human Scan Car, Transparant Charging Station, Camera Shutter
There are already a few examples of projects that will be further explored in the Responsible Sensing Lab. Namely, the Human Scan Car, Transparent Charging Station and Camera Shutter projects.
Firstly, scan cars – vehicles that are equipped with sensors to collect data on the urban environment – are becoming increasingly popular to help the municipality to carry out tasks efficiently. For example with parking policy enforcement, waste registration and advertisement taxation. Apart from making the city more efficient and clean, with this project we question and explore what public and democratic values should be embedded in the implementation of these scan cars.
Together with UNSense, we invited representatives from the City of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TADA, and researchers from TU Delft to join us for a 3-day sprint to design “the scan car of the future”, that also looks at the human and fair values of the advances in technology. Get a full impression of this design sprint here.
“Design should play a role in guiding the perceptions of, and interactions with, automated sensing systems in the city. Going through this process with AMS Institute's researchers and public servants, we’ll be able to bend the design towards a more consciously chosen, collectively desirable future.” - Tessa Steenkamp | Sensorial Experience Designer | UNSense
Secondly, the transparent charging station is a design project meant to explain smart charging algorithm decisions to users. In the near future, when electric cars become more prevelant, the electicity grid will no longer be able to charge all electric cars at the same time. Smart charging algorithms will help coordinate which car will get to charge at what time. But how do these algorithms decide? The transparent charging station project produces the first user interface informing people about smart charging decisions.
"The transparent charging station promises to improve the democratic oversight of algorithms in EV charging. By explaining charging algorithm inputs, procedures and outputs in a user interface, EV drivers should be able to determine the system's fairness and see who the responsible parties are". - Kars Alfrink | Doctoral Researcher | TU Delft
Thirdly, the Camera Shutter project originated based on the notion that people do not know if and when cameras in public space are recording or not*.* We wondered: would people like to live in a city where all city cameras clearly show or state when they’re not in use? What if, just like laptop shutters many people have placed over their webcam, this could be a way to make clear to citizens when a camera is not recording them?
For this third project, a timelapse camera at the office of AMS Institute was outfitted with a shutter. Subsequently, the effects of this small-scale pilot will be examined by interviewing staff and visitors.
Core values for responsible urban digitization
At the Responsible Sensing Lab, and for Responsible Urban Digitization program as a whole, we use the City’s values (TADA, Digital City Agenda) as our starting point. We will explore what these values mean when applied to actual digital software and hardware.
Also, we are inspired by the methodology of value sensitive design. This approach allows us to focus on design choices inherent in the type of sensing hardware, the distribution of intelligence between cloud and back-end, the physical design and placement of sensors in public space, and interaction possibilities for citizens.
Recently, a three year collaboration has been signed between the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute. In this Lab, we’ll work closely with experts at TU Delft Industrial Design Faculty.
Te wicked? Niet voor ons.
Wij werken allemaal aan urgente, complexe, maatschappelijke uitdagingen. Issues die schier onoplosbaar lijken, van dilemma’s en paradoxen omgeven, nog niet duidelijk hoe het moet. Wel is duidelijk dát het moet, dat we elkaar nodig
hebben en dat we er NU aan moeten beginnen. Om met de woorden van Jan Rotmans te spreken; we leven niet in een tijdperk van verandering maar in een verandering van tijdperk. En hier hoort een nieuwe gereedschapskist bij.
En of je nou aan energietransitie werkt, andere mobiliteitssystemen, creëren van waterstofhubs, peer to peer autodeelsystemen, het maakt niet uit, we zien dat al deze opgaven op enig moment tegen gelijksoortige barrières aanlopen. Op samenwerking, financiering, privacy, onvoldoende aansluiting op de maatschappij, om maar een paar voorbeelden te noemen.
Als Amsterdam Smart City netwerk willen en kunnen we deze opgaven niet laten liggen. Door het bundelen van onze kennis en expertise kunnen we als netwerk iets unieks bieden en de wil en durf tonen om deze barrières te doorbreken. De betrokken partners die dit uitdenken en begeleiden zijn RHDHV, Kennisland, Drift, NEMO, Arcadis, Alliander, HvA en Metabolic. Zij bundelen hun expertise en ervaring om de echte vragen boven tafel te krijgen, tot nieuwe manieren van samenwerken te komen en barrières te doorbreken. We richten ons met name op de start van de samenwerking. Gezamenlijk ontwikkelen we een ‘wicked problem aanpak’. Op een nieuwe manier, lerend door te doen, exploratief.
Waar moet je aan denken?
Wat is eigenlijk het echte probleem? Wiens probleem is dit? Hoe kijken anderen er tegenaan? Welke andere partijen lijken nodig? Hoe vind je ze? Hoe ga je om met eigenaarschap en botsende frames? Hoe zorg je dat je al in
een vroeg stadium de maatschappij (bewoners, ondernemers, werknemers, etc) betrekt en hun ervaringen in het project trekt? Het wicked problem team zet nieuwe methoden in voor het beantwoorden van deze vragen. En het creëren van de benodigde commitment om het vraagstuk aan te pakken. Niets staat van te voren vast, want we passen ons aan aan wat we tegenkomen. Met elkaar ontwikkelen we een nieuwe aanpak om de barrières te doorbreken.
The primary objective of this research project is to enhance an understanding of the concept of inclusion and its criteria in Smart city discourse. The research ambition is applying the result as a tool for benchmarking inclusive smart cities, which can assess and improve them. To apply the result, we aim to work with cities like Amsterdam, The Hauge, and Rotterdam.
You would like to connect with Urban Environmental Sustainability practitioners and researchers in China and exchange your approaches to green transport, clean energy, compact urban development, water and solid waste management, green buildings and municipal finance? Then sign up to the EC-Link platform! The platform links Eco Cities across Europe and China, offering inspiring examples from both sides of Eurasia and enabling direct contacts to the innovators. With the help of an integrated translation tool, posts can be translated into Chinese and English with just one click. Use of the platform is free of charge: http://eclink.org/bbs/#/?lang=en
A description of how the platform works can be downloaded here: http://eclink.org/ec_platform/upload/document/EC-Link_Users'%20Guide-EN.pdf
Testing medical certified body sensors to detect unexpected behaviour, triggering an alert, which allows the command & control room to act and better support their fellow officers in the field.
Blue Force Tracking - Nalta Experience #1
How to improve the protection and safety of the Dutch Blue Force using smart Technology?
Nalta built a new innovative Internet of Things solution solving just that. In partnership with the Netherlands Police, the municipality of Amsterdam, Johan Cruijff Arena, Dell Technologies and Dell Boomi we cre
Ever gone straight from work to Friday night drinks and had to carry your laptop to the bar? Perhaps you went from university to a sporting event and had to bring your heavy books? Yellowbox is a network of smart lockers you can hire on demand using your phone.
Located all over the city centre, the yellowbox app shows a live map of all yellowbox smart lockers near you. When you arrive at your locker you simply tap a button on your phone and the bluetooth smart locker pops open, and you can begin hiring your locker on demand.
Found in public spaces, beaches, leisure and aquatic centres, retail and entertainment venues, our goal is that if you are in the city centre, you are always within a 5 minute walk from your closest yellowbox.
Yellowbox smart lockers let visitors experience your venue hands-free while keeping their bags and jackets safe.
A Hands-free Customer Experience
Customers without physical burdens report a higher satisfaction rating
Drive Foot Traffic
Adding your property to the live Yellowbox map on the mobile app draws customers to your property
Increase Length of Stay
Peace of mind results in longer stays and increased spend
Brand your space as digital
Associate your development with being safe, relaxing, digital and innovative
- Full service - we provide full 24/7 in-app customer service so this will not add any extra workload to staff.
- Install anywhere - we have yellowboxes at the beach which is exposed to sun, wind and located outdoors. Because yellowboxes are battery powered, we do not need to consider power sockets when deciding on the installation location.
- Retrofit option - already have lockers at your location? Even better! We can easily retrofit your lockers and brand them as digital by replacing old locks with our yellowbox smart lock.
The 5G-Blueprint project is an international consortium of 28 parties. Together, these partners will be researching how real-time data exchange to and from vehicles, between terminals and vehicles, and between vehicles and distribution centers can contribute to increased efficiency in the supply chain, and help to resolve driver shortages by providing remote control of and support for vehicles and vessels. These developments are expected to improve accessibility of a key logistical corridor between the Netherlands and Belgium (Vlissingen – Ghent – Antwerp), as well as creating more jobs and strengthening the competitive position of the region. New 5G telecommunication technologies can be deployed as a useful resource in this area.
Digital Society School is an energetic training ground where creative solutions are being developed, tested and prototyped to address business and societal challenges. We root our design, tech and social innovation in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. This unique combination offers insights and new perspectives to add innovation power to organisations. We work together with governments, businesses and citizens to help them adapt and become future-proof for the digital world.
Join forces with us now to work on the Sustainable Development Goals and explore how these can help open up market opportunities for your business. Embark on innovative projects together where we use digital technology to find effective results for the most pressing social and business challenges. Join forces with our creative and curious minds to work on challenges that your organisation faces. Develop competencies that are essential for now and the future. Learn the tools, mindset and methods that can be implemented back into your own organisation to lead the digital transformation of your business and of society. Customize or join our existing courses where we share knowledge, tools and methods to empower (your) people on their lifelong development journey. Whatever your choice is, it is bound to be a worthwhile investment towards building our digital future.
How might we automate access to a public digital ecosystem for citizens and machines in order to grow a conscious city? How might we incentivize all citizens and companies to interact with the public digital ecosystem of the city in order to improve livability, democratic representation and societal engagement?
Read our ecosystem document
Join our online ecosystem platform
#WiTNL ia a platform for all women and girls in tech in Amsterdam and The Netherlands, We bring together Academia, Corporates and Start-Ups, individuals and organisations, women and men, everyone who is dedicated to work towards closing the gender gap in tech. We organize inspiring events, workshops, masterclasses, mentoring sessions, speaking opportunities, and many other career supportive activities. We collaborate with other initiatives, networks, tech and non-tech conferences, companies and organizations while building an eco-system that will help women in tech and female tech entrepreneurs thrive.
The project aims to demonstrate and accelerate the empowerment of citizens to become active energy citizens - and to create local energy communities via existing civil society structures - through development of new solutions (e.g. organisational) and adoption of new, emerging and existing solutions for energy ownership.
By implementing innovative smart & digital solutions, the digital perimeter allows us to experiment with applications that deliver safety & security while providing the visitor with an even better fan experience.
Please do share your comments and thoughts with us as we are currently exploring our technical options with partners within the eco-system.
Those with an interest in urban innovation topics can now discover what makes Amsterdam an innovative, smart city without the timing and logistical constraints of a guided tour. The new self-guided Amsterdam Innovation Tour enables local and international stakeholders to immerse themselves in learning about the City’s innovative projects at any time — day or night.
In the light of the technologization and digitalization we're going through at the moment, we recognize the need to rethink urban design. Thanks to the internet, we can be anywhere we want. Thus changing the needs of a city's citizens. Additionally, smart city applications in public space raise questions regarding privacy and ownership.