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Mobility and transport are crucial for a city to function properly. Amsterdam is considered the world capital of cycling; 32% of traffic movement in Amsterdam is by bike and 63% of its inhabitants use their bike on daily basis. The number of registered electrical car owners in the Netherlands increased with 53% to 28.889 in 2016. Since 2008 car sharing increased with 376%. However, this is less than 1% of the total car use. Innovative ideas and concepts can help to improve the city’s accessibility, so share your ideas and concepts here.
Evenementen in de stad willen we verder verduurzamen en toegankelijker maken. Vaak vinden evenementen plaats op centrale plekken waar mensen bij elkaar komen en waar veel afval, drinkwater en consumptievoorzieningen zijn. Dit zijn goede plekken om nieuwe innovaties te testen en verder te ontwikkelen. Tot 29 februari kunnen ondernemers zich inschrijven om hun innovatie te testen via het In Residence programma Open Evenementen.
In Residence programma
Innovatieve ondernemers kunnen zich inschrijven voor het In Residence programma van het stedelijk innovatieteam, waarin open evenementen in Amsterdam worden ingezet voor het testen van innovaties. Het doel van dit programma is om kennis te ontwikkelen voor zowel het verduurzamen van evenementen, als voor het vinden van praktische oplossingen voor een toekomstbestendige stad.
Geselecteerde ondernemers krijgen daarbij professionele begeleiding bij het verder ontwikkelen van hun innovatie en de mogelijkheid samen te werken met ambtenaren en evenementenorganisatoren. Voor het testen van hun innovatie krijgen ondernemers een budget tot €15.000,- toegewezen. Het programma duurt 6 maanden, van mei tot en met oktober 2024. Op 26 april worden de 8 ondernemers bekend gemaakt die dit jaar aan het programma mee zullen doen.
Het In Residence programma Open Evenementen vindt plaats in aanloop naar het jubileumjaar 2025 – het jaar van Amsterdam 750 en SAIL – dat groots gevierd zal worden in de hele stad. Innovaties die de komende tijd op evenementen worden getest en door ontwikkeld kunnen mogelijk een rol hebben tijdens de grootschalige evenementen die dat jaar plaatsvinden.
Evenementen als proeftuin
Meerdere grote evenementen nemen deel aan het programma. De organisaties van onder andere Pride en de Marathon bieden geselecteerde ondernemers mogelijkheden om innovaties op thema’s als duurzaamheid, circulair, mobiliteit, inclusie en toegankelijkheid te testen tijdens deze evenementen. Kansrijke innovaties krijgen hierdoor de mogelijkheid om door te ontwikkelen en een positieve bijdrage te leveren aan de opgaven van de stad.
Innovatieve ondernemers kunnen innovaties opgeven binnen de volgende thema's:
- Circulaire materialen
- Circulaire verpakkingen
- Inclusiviteit en toegankelijkheid
- Extreem weer
- Digitale veiligheid
Er is ook een wildcard voor een kansrijke innovatie die buiten deze categorieën valt.
De Inschrijving verloopt via: https://innovatiepartners.nl/project/open-evenementen-2024/ en sluit op 29 februari.
Meer informatie over hoe wij samenwerken met ondernemers vind je op:www.innovatiepartners.nl. Op 6 en 8 februari vinden er twee informatiewebinars plaats waarin meer verteld zal worden over het In Residence programma en de selectieprocedure. Ook is er dan ruimte om vragen te stellen.
A certain degree of compactness is essential for the viability of 15-minute cities. This is due to the need for an economic threshold for facilities accessible by walking or cycling. A summary of 300 research projects by the OECD shows that compactness increases the efficiency of public services in all respects. But it also reveals disadvantages in terms of health and well-being due to pollution, traffic, and noise. The assumption is that there is an optimal density at which both pleasant living and the presence of everyday facilities - including schools - can be realised. At this point, 'densification' is not at the expense of quality of life but contributes to it. A lower density results in more car use and a higher density will reduce living and green space and the opportunity to create jobs.
The image above is a sketch of the 'Plan Papenvest' in Brussels. The density, 300 dwellings on an area of 1.13 hectares, is ten times that of an average neighbourhood. Urban planners often mention that the density of Dutch cities is much lower than in Paris and Barcelona, for example. Yet it is precisely in these cities that traffic is one of the main causes of air pollution, stress, and health problems. The benefits of compactness combined with a high quality of life can only be realised if the nuisances associated with increasing density are limited. This uncompromisingly means limiting car ownership and use.
Urban planners often seem to argue the other way round. They argue that building in the green areas around cities must be prevented at all costs to protect nature and that there is still enough space for building in the cities. The validity of this view is limited. In the first place, the scarce open space within cities can be better used for clean workshops and nature development in combination with water control. Secondly, much of the 'green' space outside cities is not valuable nature at all. Most of it is used to produce feed for livestock, especially cows. Using a few per cent of this space for housing does not harm nature at all. This housing must be concentrated near public transport. The worst idea is to add a road to the outskirts of every town and village. This will undoubtedly increase the use of cars.
Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities
On Thursday December 14th, Amsterdam Smart City partners concluded 2023 with an afternoon full of inspiration, exchange and connections at our 22nd Demoday! Our partner Deloitte welcomed our network in The Garage, where their ‘Deloitte Studios’ department is located. In this article, we’ll give you a quick overview of the Knowledge Session, Work Sessions and Pitches. Interesting in learning more? Read the full reports by our Programme Managers Noor, Pelle and Sophie (linked below).
About our Demodays
The Demodays are one of the tools we use to stimulate innovation and encourage connection between our partners and community. The purpose of the Demodays is to present the progress of various innovation projects, ask for help, share dilemmas and involve more partners to take these projects to the next level. More information about the Demodays can be found here.
Knowledge Session: Change in the here and now, with Theory U
To kick-off our final Demoday of 2023, our brand-new partner Hieroo led an inspiring knowledge session about the change method they use for social innovation in the city: Theory U. Dorien Schneider and Maartje Krijnen taught us more about this methodology and how it can help us solve complex problems by shifting from ego to eco-thinking. Read the full report here.
After the plenary Knowledge Session we split up in different worksessions, each exploring regional innovation challenges. As always, we had set up the sessions’ topics and moderation in collaboration with our partners.
Mobility | Decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity – Jurhan Kwee (Municipality of Amsterdam)
In The Netherlands, the concept of ‘Inclusive Prosperity’ is on the rise. Policy makers are busy defining this concept, figuring out how to put this concept into practice and what it means for their decision-making process. Together with his colleagues at the Municipality of Amsterdam, Yurhan Kwee hosts sessions on decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity. With the input he gathers, he hopes to make the decisions needed for our Inclusive Prosperity ambitions more understandable and transparent, both for Amsterdam’s administrators and councillors as well as its citizens. Read Pelle’s recap article here.
Digital | Data Commons Collective: Using data for a liveable city – Lia Hsu (Amsterdam Economic Board) and Simone van der Burg (Waag)
In the big tech-dominated era, data has been commercially exploited for so long that it is now hard to imagine that data sharing might also benefit the community. Yet that is what a collective of businesses, governments, social institutions and residents in Amsterdam aim to do. Sharing more data to better care for the city. On behalf of the Data Commons Collective, Lia Hsu (Strategic Advisor at Amsterdam Economic Board) asked the Amsterdam Smart City network for input and feedback on their Data Commons initiative. Read Sophie's recap article here.
Energy | How can we continue to facilitate the homeowner in driving the energy transition? | Wouter van Rooijen (Alliander)
Wouter van Rooijen (Alliander) discussed the challenges related to grid congestion. From 2030 onwards, it is expected that a significant portion of the low-voltage network will experience both over- and under-voltage. While the network will be reinforced as quickly as possible, the lack of labour capacity is also prompting the consideration of alternative solutions.
The solution that emerged from Wouter's co-creation process was WijkWise. In this work session, Wouter aimed to validate the WijkWise concept and find parties that could contribute to its development and market implementation. Dave van Loon from Kennisland moderated the session. Read Noor’s recap article here.
Circular | Navigating eco-emotions: The impact of working in sustainability on your mental wellbeing| Marian Zandbergen (Hogeschool van Amsterdam)
This work session, led by Marian Zandbergen (CIRCOLLAB, HvA) and moderated by Mareille de Bloois (Royal HaskoningDHV), explored the challenges and opportunities associated with eco-emotions, both personally and within organizations. The key question addressed was: How can individuals and organisations constructively manage eco-emotions, and what implications does this have for organisations? Read Noor’s recap article here.
To end this festive afternoon and the year 2023 as a whole, we invited project owners and -members to present their progress and next steps on topics brought in during our events and deep-dives throughout 2023. The following projects were presented. You can read more about these topics on their dedicated articles and project pages, linked below.
Local Energy Systems: Where we started, what we have achieved, and what are the next steps – Omar Shafqat (University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam)
Connecting the resource- and energy transition – Edwin Oskam (MRA)
ChatGPT and the government: Possibilities and impact on our work – Jeroen Silvis (Province of North Holland)
Floating urban districts: Future-proof living in the Metropolitan Region – Joke Dufourmont (AMS Institute)
Mobility Justice: Raising the topic of Mobility Poverty and the working group’s progress – Bas Gerbrandy (Province of North Holland)
Our next Demoday will take place in April. Do you have an inspiring story or project you want to pitch to the Amsterdam Smart City network? Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org
*This article makes use of the term Inclusive Prosperity as the English translation for the Dutch word; ‘Brede Welvaart’
In The Netherlands, the concept of Inclusive Prosperity* is on the rise. Policy makers are busy defining this concept, figuring out how to put this concept into practice and what it means for their decision-making process. Together with his colleagues at the Municipality of Amsterdam, Yurhan Kwee hosts sessions on decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity. With the input he gathers, he hopes to make the decisions needed for our Inclusive Prosperity ambitions more understandable and transparent, both for Amsterdam’s administrators and councillors as well as its citizens.
Inclusive Prosperity is about more than just money. It involves everything that people consider valuable, such as health, the quality of education, the environment, a safe living environment, and equal opportunities for everyone. It's about the quality of life in the present, and the extent to which this affects the prosperity of future generations or those of people elsewhere in the world.
According to the definition, used by the Municipality, there are 8 themes to consider:
1. Subjective Well-being
Subjective well-being refers to the evaluation people make of their lives. Consider the question, "How satisfied are you with life in general?"
The theme of Health encompasses physical illnesses and conditions, as well as mental health, living with limitations, perceived health, and self-regulation and resilience.
3. Consumption and Income
The theme of Consumption and Income refers to how income provides people with the freedom and opportunities to consume, including purchasing services and goods, maintaining a financial buffer, and shaping one's lifestyle.
4. Education and Training
Thinking about the theme of Education and Training involves the transfer of knowledge and skills, socialization, and considering the education or training experiences of individuals.
5. Spatial Quality and Cohesion
Regarding the theme of Spatial Cohesion and Quality, consider the following: a qualitatively well-designed space is a crucial precondition for the perceived broad prosperity. This includes spatial design on a functional level and with a focus on the future.
6. Economic Capital
Depending on the case, consider how it relates to:
- Human capital: the combination of competencies, knowledge, and skills;
- Physical capital: material possessions, such as machinery, buildings, and infrastructure;
- Knowledge capital: intangible assets, such as research and development, data, and patents;
- Financial capital: the financial resources of households and the government (purchasing power).
7. Natural Capital
Natural Capital refers to the stock of natural resources. Consider items such as (drinking) water, food, minerals, wind-sun-water energy, biodiversity, etc. Assess whether they are sufficiently available, in shortage, or if there is damage to these resources.
8. Social Capital
The concept of Social Capital often refers to the benefits of social networks, such as access to information and resources. This involves connections within and between groups. Positive effects can lead to trust, while negative effects can lead to loneliness.
Experimenting (with Mobility related policies) in public space
The case we used during this session is the use of experiments in public space, altering mobility or travel infrastructure. The months leading up to this afternoon, Amsterdam had put different experiments into practice (e.g. de ‘knip’ and de ‘paaltjesproef’) resulting in heated discussions, about both the success and desirability of using this method.
In a more objective manner, we used the Broad Prosperity principles to argue why its either desirable or undesirable to put such methods into practice.
The group agreed that these Amsterdam experiments, concerned with creating calmer, more liveable urban areas, score well within themes like; Health (less air & noise pollution), Nature (more space for green and biodiversity), Social capital (more space and opportunity to meet and interact), Spacial quality (less dangerous and more moving space) and education (experimenting, learning by doing, viewing urban planning as experimenting and an ongoing learning process). However, as this year’s backlash on the experiments showed, there are some negative aspects to consider. Examples of domains in which we found some negative aspects, were; Economy (decreased speed and efficiency), Consumption & Income (local shop- and restaurant-owners need to be flexible and could be victims of changing infrastructure) and Subjective Well-being (citizens feel used, disadvantaged, and there is ambiguity about the purpose).
We found it difficult to arrive at a common answer because advantages and disadvantages exist on each theme separately. However, there was a common notion that the success of this method is rooted in clear and transparent communication on the effects and goals of such experiment. Frustration should be minimized and the opposing arguments should be taken seriously. Furthermore, we discussed the difference between a ‘real’ experiment in which every outcome is a success, and a trial, which is used to test a policy that’s envisioned for future years. The one who initiates the experiment should have this very clear for itself.
While one of the strengths of this method is the need to value these different domains in a more equal and objective manner, it proved to be difficult in practice. We all had the tendency to give some aspects more weight than others. While we were supposed to set up an advice and practice with decision-making along the principles of Inclusive Prosperity, it turned out to be challenging to let go of our prior experience, prejudices and opinions on this subject. We weren’t sure whether this is always a negative thing, but it’s one of the considerations Yurhan took home in the Municipality’s exploration of this approach.
Together, we experienced the challenge of working together with a new concept and approach. It should be an ongoing practice and discussion, a collective effort. Sessions like these serve that purpose perfectly.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you want to know more about the municipality’s and Amsterdam Economic Board’s efforts on the topic of Inclusive Prosperity.
Carlos Moreno, a professor at the Sorbonne University, helped Mayor Anne Hidalgo develop the idea of the 15-minute city. He said that six things made people happy: living, working, amenities, education, wellbeing, and recreation. The quality of the urban environment is enhanced when these functions are realized near each other. The monofunctional expansion of cities in the US, but also in the bidonvilles of Paris, is a thorn in his side, partly because this justifies owning a car.
A more precise definition of the concept of the 15-minute city is needed before it can be implemented on a large scale. It is important to clarify which means of transport must be available to reach certain facilities in a given number of minutes. The list of facilities is usually very comprehensive, while the list of means of transport is usually only vaguely defined. But the distance you can travel in 15 minutes depends on the availability of certain modes of transport (see figure above).
Advocates of "new urbanism" have developed the tools to design 15-minute cities. They are based on three zones: the 5-minute walking zone, the 15-minute walking zone, which coincides with the 5-minute cycling zone, and finally the 15-minute cycling zone. These are not static concepts: In practice, the zones overlap and complement each other.
The 5-minute walking zone
This zone corresponds to the way in which most residential neighbourhoods functioned up until the 1960s, wherever you are in the world. Imagine a space with an average distance from the center to the edge of about 400 meters. In the center you will find a limited number of shops, a (small) supermarket, one or more cafes and a restaurant. The number of residents will vary between two and three thousand. Density will decrease from the centre and the main streets outwards. Green spaces, including a small neighbourhood park, will be distributed throughout the neighbourhood, as will workshops and offices.
In the case of new construction, it is essential that pedestrian areas have a dense network of paths without crossings at ground level with streets where car traffic is allowed. Some paths are wider and allow cycling within the 5- and 15-minute cycle zones. The streets provide access to concentrated parking facilities.
The 5-minute cycle zone and the 15-minute walking zone.
Here the distance from the center to the edge is about one kilometer. In this area, most of the facilities that residents need is available and can be distributed around the centers of the 5-minute walking zones. For example, a slightly larger supermarket may be located between two 5-minute walking zones. This zone will also contain one or more larger parks and some larger concentrations of employment.
This zone can be a large district of a city, but it can also be a small municipality or district of around 15 to 25,000 inhabitants. With such a population there will be little room for dogmatic design, especially when it comes to existing buildings. But even then, it is possible to separate traffic types by keeping cars off many streets and clustering car parks. The bottom line is that all destinations in this zone can be reached quickly by walking and cycling, and that car routes can be crossed safely.
The car will be used (occasionally) for several destinations. For example, for large shopping trips to the supermarket.
The 15-minute cycle zone.
This zone will be home to 100.00 or more residents. The large variation is due to the (accidental) presence of facilities for a larger catchment area, such as an industrial estate, a furniture boulevard or an IKEA, a university or a (regional) hospital. It is certainly not a sum of comparable 5-minute cycle zones. Nevertheless, the aim is to distribute functions over the whole area on as small a scale as possible. In practice, this zone is also crossed by several roads for car traffic. The network of cycle paths provides the most direct links between the 5-minute cycle zones and the wider area.
The main urban development objectives for this zone are good accessibility to urban facilities by public transport from all neighbourhoods, the prohibition of hypermarkets and a certain distribution of central functions throughout the area: Residents should be able to go out and have fun in a few places and not just in a central part of the city.
Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities.
Without changing the transport system in which they operate, the advent of autonomous cars will not significantly improve the quality of life in our cities. This has been discussed in previous contributions. This change includes prioritizing investment in developing high-quality public transport and autonomous minibuses to cover the first and last mile.
However, this is not enough by itself. The need to reduce the distances we travel daily also applies to transporting raw materials and food around the world. This is the subject of a new series of blog posts, and probably the last.
Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the sustainability of the need for people and goods to travel long distances. In many cities, the corona pandemic has been a boost to this idea. Paris is used as an example. But what applies to Paris applies to every city.
When Anne Hidalgo took office as the newly elected mayor in 2016, her first actions were to close the motorway over the Seine quay and build kilometres of cycle paths. Initially, these actions were motivated by environmental concerns. Apparently, there was enough support for these plans to ensure her re-election in 2020. She had understood that measures to limit car traffic would not be enough. That is why she campaigned on the idea of "La Ville du Quart d'Heure", the 15-minute city, also known as the "complete neighbourhood". In essence, the idea is to provide citizens with almost all of their daily needs - employment, housing, amenities, schools, care and recreation - within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of their homes. The idea appealed. The idea of keeping people in their cars was replaced by the more sympathetic, empirical idea of making them redundant.
During pandemics, lockdowns prevent people from leaving their homes or travelling more than one kilometer. For the daily journey to work or school, the tele-works took their place, and the number of (temporary) "pistes á cycler" quickly increased. For many Parisians, the rediscovery of their own neighbourhood was a revelation. They looked up to the parks every day, the neighbourhood shops had more customers, commuters suddenly had much more time and, despite all the worries, the pandemic was in a revival of "village" coziness.
A revival, indeed, because until the 1960s, most of the inhabitants of the countries of Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia did not know that everything they needed on a daily basis was available within walking or cycling distance. It was against this backdrop that the idea of the 15-minute city gained ground in Paris.
We talk about a 15-minute city when neighbourhoods have the following characteristics
- a mix of housing for people of different ages and backgrounds - pedestrians and cyclists
- Pedestrians and cyclists, especially children, can safely use car-free streets.
- Shops within walking distance (up to 400 meters) for all daily needs
- The same goes for a medical center and a primary school.
- There are excellent public transport links;
- Parking is available on the outskirts of the neighbourhood.
- Several businesses and workshops are located in each neighbourhood.
- Neighbourhoods offer different types of meeting places, from parks to cafes and restaurants.
- There are many green and leafy streets in a neighbourhood.
- The population is large enough to support these facilities.
- Citizens have a degree of self-management.
Urban planners have rarely lost sight of these ideas. In many cities, the pandemic has made these vague memories accessible goals, even if they are far from reality.
In the next post, I will reflect on how the idea of the 15-minute city is moving from dream to reality.
Below you can link to my free downloadable e-book: 25 Building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities
Until recently, optimists would say "in a few years." Nobody believes that anymore, except for Egon Musk. The number of - so far small - incidents involving robot taxis is increasing to such an extent that the cities where these taxis operate on a modest scale, San Francisco in particular, want to take action.
Europe vs USA
In any case, it will take a long time before robotaxis are commonplace in Europe. There are two major differences between the US and Europe when it comes to transportation policy.
In the US, each state can individually determine when autonomous vehicles can hit the road. In Europe, on the other hand, a General Safety Regulation has been in force since June 2022 that applies to all countries. This states, among other things, that a driver must maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Strict conditions apply to vehicles without a driver: separate lanes, short routes on traffic-calmed parts of the public road and always with a 'safety driver' on board.
The second difference is that in the US 45% of all residents do not have public transport available. In Europe you can get almost anywhere by public transport, although the frequency is low in remote areas. Governments say they want to further increase accessibility by public transport, even if this is at the expense of car traffic. To this end, they want an integrated transport policy, a word that is virtually unknown in the US.
Integrated transport policy
In essence, integrated transport policy is the offering of a series of transport options that together result in (1) the most efficient, safe and convenient satisfaction of transport needs, (2) reduction of the need to travel over long distances (including via the '15- minutes city') and (3) minimal adverse effects on the environment and the quality of life, especially in the large cities. In other words, transport is part of policy aimed at improving the quality of the living environment.
Integrated transport policy assesses the role of vehicle automation in terms of their contribution to these objectives. A distinction can be made between the automation of passenger cars (SAE level 1-3) and driverless vehicles (SEA level 4-5).
Automation of passenger cars
Systems such as automatic lane changes, monitoring distance and speed, and monitoring the behavior of other road users are seen as contributing to road safety. However, the driver always remains responsible and must therefore be able to take over steering at any time, even if the car does not emit a (disengagement) signal. Eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
'Hail-riding' will result in growth of traffic in cities because the number of car kilometers per user increases significantly, at the expense of walking, cycling, public transport and to a much lesser extent the use of private cars. Sofar, the number of people who switch from their own car to 'hail-riding' is minimal. The only way to reverse this trend is to impose heavy taxes on car kilometers in urban areas. On the other hand, the use of robot shuttles is beneficial in low-traffic areas and on routes from residential areas to a station. Shuttles are also an excellent way to reduce car use locally. For example, in the extensive Terhills resort in Genk, Belgium, where people leave their cars in the parking lot and transfer to autonomous shuttles that connect the various destinations on the site with high frequency.
A few months ago (April 2023), I read that Qbus in the Netherlands wants to experiment with 18-meter-long autonomous buses, for the time being accompanied by a 'safety driver'. Routes on bus lanes outside the busiest parts of the city are being considered. Autonomous metros and trains have been running in various cities, including London, for years. It is this incremental approach that we will need in the coming years instead of dreaming about getting into an autonomous car, where a made bed awaits us and we wakes us rested 1000 kilometers away. Instead of overcrowded roads with moving beds, we are better off with a comfortable and well-functioning European network of fast (sleeper) trains on a more modern rail infrastructure and efficient and convenient pre- and post-transport.
The photograph above is misleading. Reading a book instead of watching the road is not allowed in any country, unless the car is parked.
For more than a decade, car manufacturers have been working on technology to take over driver's actions. A Lot of money has been invested in this short period and many optimistic expectations have been raised, but no large-scale implementation of the higher SAE levels resulted so far. Commercial services with robotaxi’s are scarce and still experimental.
The changing tide
Especially in the period 2015 - 2018, the CEOs of the companies involved cheered about the prospects; soon after, sentiment changed. In November 2018, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that the spread of autonomous cars is still decades away and that driving under poor circumstances and in overcrowded cities will always require a human driver. Volkswagen's CEO said fully self-driving cars "may never" hit public roads.
The companies involved are therefore increasingly concerned about the return on the $100 billion invested in the development of car automation until the end of 2021. The end of the development process is not yet in sight. Much has been achieved, but the last 20% of the journey to the fully autonomous car will require the most effort and much more investment. Current technology is difficult to perfect. “Creating self-driving robotaxi is harder than putting a man on the moon,” said Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, after terminating Argo, the joint venture with Volkswagen, after the company had invested $100 million in it.
The human brain can assess complex situations on the road much better than any machine. Artificial intelligence is much faster, but its accuracy and adaptability still leave much to be desired. Driverless cars struggle with unpredictability caused by children, pedestrians, cyclists, and other human-driven cars as well as with potholes, detours, worn markings, snow, rain, fog, darkness and so on. This is also the opinion of Gabriel Seiberth, CEO of the German computer company Accenture, and he advises the automotive industry to focus on what is possible. Carlo van de Weijer, director of Artificial Intelligence at TU Eindhoven, agrees: “There will not be a car that completely takes over all our tasks.”
Elon Musk, on the other hand, predicted that by 2020 all Tesla’s will have SEA level 5 thanks to the new Full Self Driving Chip. In 2023 we know that its performance is indeed impressive. Tesla may therefore be the first car to be accredited at SAE level 3. That is not yet SAE level 5. The question is whether Elon Musk minds that much!
The priorities of the automotive industry
For established automotive companies, the priority is to sell as many cars as possible and not to make a driver redundant. The main objective is therefore to achieve SAE levels 2 and possibly 3. The built-in functions such as automatic lane changing, keeping distance, and passing will contribute to the safe use of cars, if drivers learn to use them properly. Research shows that drivers are willing to pay an average of around $2,500 for these amenities. That is different from the $15,000 that the beta version of Tesla's Full Self Driving system costs.
The automotive industry is in a phase of adjusting expectations, temporizing investments, downsizing involved business units, and looking for partnerships. GM and Honda are collaborating on battery development; BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler are in talks to share R&D efforts for autonomous vehicles; and Ford and VW have stopped developing an autonomous car and are working together on more realistic ambitions.
Safety issues at SAE level 3
But even with a focus on SAE level 3, the problems do not go away. The biggest safety problem may well lie at this level. Elon Musk has suggested for years that Tesla's autopilot would allow drivers to read a book or watch a movie. All they must do is stay behind the wheel. They must be able to take control of the car if the automatic system indicates that it can no longer handle the situation. Studies in test environments show that in this case the reaction time of drivers is far too long to prevent disaster. An eye on the road and a hand on the wheel is still mandatory everywhere in the world, except in few paces for cars accredited at SEA level 4 under specified conditions.
The assumption is that the operating system is so accurate that it indicates in time that it considers the situation too complex. But there are still many doubts as to whether these systems themselves are sufficiently capable of properly assessing the situation on the road at all times. Recent research from King's College London showed that pedestrian detection systems are 20% more accurate when dealing with white adults than when dealing with children and 7.5% more accurate when dealing with white people compared to people with dark skin.
In the next post I will go into more detail about the legislation and what the future may bring.
You still can download for free my newest e-book '25 building blocks to create better streets, neighborhoods and cities' by following the link below
Participating in a COP28 side event organized by the European Commission, the Amsterdam Region delved into Local Green Deals as instrument for achieving the green transition. The primary goal for the session was to uncover actionable strategies and prerequisites essential for fostering public-private collaboration to realize the sustainability transition. Marja Ruigrok, vice-mayor for the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, represented the Amsterdam Region alongside political and business leaders from Braga (Portugal), Aalborg (Denmark) and Skelleftea (Sweden).
Commencing the session, Valentina Superti, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs at the European Commission, highlighted Europe's ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This necessitates a transformative shift towards sustainability, digitalization, and resilience, which is why the Commission is introducing critical legislation like the Net-Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act.
Ruigrok shared insights from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region’s efforts in establishing Local Green Deals, emphasizing her role as political ambassador and champion for the Green Deal Bikes initiative. She stressed the importance of cycling, explaining that despite its reputation as a cycling paradise, approximately 20% of young people in the Amsterdam Region can not ride a bike: “If you don’t learn to ride a bike at a young age, you are also much less likely to use a bike for commuting later in life. That’s why in this Green Deal, we stimulate young people to learn to ride bikes, and encourage employers to support commuting by bike. This is crucial because employees who bike take on average 2.5 fewer sick days compared to those who don’t bike.”
Reflecting on success factors, Ruigrok emphasized the need for political commitment, and clear project ownership: "From a political point of view, you need long term commitment, and you have to create ownership. Someone has to take ownership and say ‘this is my project.’ This might be a governmental agency, a company, a knowledge institution, or civil society organisation - but someone has to take the lead. Otherwise, you will continue to talk, and nothing will happen."
Throughout the session, participants provided practical insights and recommendations for fostering successful public-private collaborations in general, and Local Green Deals in specific:
- Lasse Frimand Jensen, mayor of the City of Aalborg, emphasized the necessity of accountability mechanisms: “Mutual commitment is necessary and there must be mechanisms in place to keep each other accountable.”
- Ricardo Rio, mayor of City of Braga and Member of the European Committee of the Regions, highlighted the role of local authorities in mobilizing capacity and engaging stakeholders: “Local authorities need to have the spirit to engage stakeholders and shape partnerships. We also need governance models that tranced political cycles, and that allow people to participate and hold us accountable.”
- Jens Broberg, representing the business sector, emphasized the urgent need for appropriate incentives: “Governments must use policy frameworks to incentivize and regulate businesses and industry towards a green economy.”
- Evelina Fahlesson, vice-mayor of Skelleftea Municipality emphasized the need for open and honest dialogue: “As a municipality, you have to be open about your challenges and willing to start a dialogue with your citizens and companies. Use procurement and new financing models as tools to implement a shared vision.”
- David Nordberg, from Skanska Sweden, encouraged business leaders to align their business models with sustainability ambitions: "Be brave: try new ways of doing business and work in collaborations. In the long term, there is no conflict between sustainability and the economy."
The session highlighted the pivotal role of collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships in achieving the green transition, emphasizing sustained political commitment, robust governance structures transcending political timelines, and policy frameworks incentivising sustainable businesses.
In the context of COP28, the true challenge lies in replicating these successful approaches on a wider scale, extending beyond the relatively affluent European context to a global landscape with more limited resources. In many regions, the urgent and acute impacts of climate change are already pervasive, amplifying the need for swift, comprehensive action. This necessitates a global and concerted effort of nations and industries, to surmount the hurdles posed by resource scarcity and varying levels of socio-economic development. This calls for collaboration not only within regions but across continents, fostering knowledge-sharing, technology transfer, and collective efforts in tackling climate challenges. The urgency of the climate crisis demands a united global front, where the lessons learned and successes achieved in Local Green Deals can serve as guiding principles towards a more sustainable and resilient future for all.
Since mid-2022, Cruise and Waymo have been allowed to offer a ride-hailing service without a safety driver in a quiet part of San Francisco from 11pm to 6am. The permit has now been extended to the entire city throughout the day. The company has 400 cars and Waymo 250. So far, it has not been an unqualified success.
A turbulent start
In a hilarious incident, an empty taxi was pulled over by police; it stopped properly, but kept going after a few seconds, leaving the officers wondering if they should give chase. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating this incident, as well as several others involving Cruise taxis stalling at intersections, and the Fire Department reports 60 incidents involving autonomous taxis.
Pending further investigation, both companies are only allowed to operate half of their fleet. In addition to the fire department and public transport companies, trade unions are also opposed to the growth of autonomous taxis. California's governor has rejected the objections, fearing that BigTech will swap the state for more car-friendly ones. It is expected that autonomous taxis will gradually enter all major US cities, at a rate just below that of Uber and Lyft.
Cruise has already hooked another big fish: In the not-too-distant future, the company will be allowed to operate autonomous taxis in parts of Dubai.
The number of autonomous taxi services in the world can still be counted on one hand. Baidu has been offering ride-hailing services in Wuhan since December 2022, and robot taxis have been operating in parts of Shenzen since then.
Singapore was the first city in the world to have several autonomous taxis operating on a very small scale. These were developed by nuTonomy, an MIT spin-off, but the service is still in an experimental phase. Another company, Mobileye, also plans to start operating in Singapore this year.
The same company announced in 2022 that it would launch a service in Germany in 2023 in partnership with car rental company Sixt 6, but nothing more has been heard. A survey by JD Power found that almost two-thirds of Germans do not trust 'self-driving cars'. But that opinion could change quickly if safety is proven and the benefits become clear.
What is it like to drive a robotaxi?
Currently, the group of robotaxi users is still small, mainly because the range is limited in space and time. The first customers are early adopters who want to experience the ride.
Curious readers: Here you can drive a Tesla equipped with the new beta 1.4 self-driving system, and here you can board a robotaxi in Shenzhen.
The robotaxis work by hailing: You use an app to say where you are and where you want to go, and the computer makes sure the nearest taxi picks you up. Meanwhile, you can adjust the temperature in the car and tune in to your favourite radio station.
Inside the car, passengers will find tablets with information about the journey. They remind passengers to close all doors and fasten their seatbelts. Passengers can communicate with remote support staff at the touch of a button. TV cameras allow passengers to watch. Passengers can end the journey at any time by pressing a button. If a passenger forgets to close the door, the vehicle will do it for them.
The price of a ride in a robotaxi is just below the price of a ride with Uber or Lyft. The price level is strongly influenced by the current high purchase price of a robotaxi, which is about $175,000 more than a regular taxi. Research shows that people are willing to give up their own cars if robotaxis are available on demand and the rides cost significantly less than a regular taxi. But then the road is open for a huge increase in car journeys, CO2 emissions and the cannibalisation of public transport, which I previously called the horror scenario.
In some cities, such as Detroit, Austin, Stockholm, Tallinn and Berlin, as well as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, minibuses operate without a driver, but usually with a safety officer on board. They are small vehicles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h, which operate in the traffic lane or on traffic-calmed streets and follow a fixed route. They are usually part of pilot projects exploring the possibilities of this mode of transport as a means of pre- and post-transport.
Recently, I published a new e-book with 25 advices for improving the quality of our living environment. Follow the link below to download it for free.
In an autonomous car from SAE level 4, perception equipment – the eyes and ears – and software take over human brain functions. This requires accurate maps, laser, radar, lidar and cameras. The lidar, which means 'detect light and range', works in conjunction with the car's cameras. This system pulses laser waves to map the distance to objects day and night, up to up to 100 meters with an accuracy of a few centimeters. The price of all this equipment is between €150,000 and €200,000. The lidar is a high-cost item, although this system is becoming increasingly cheaper due to industrial production. Together, these tools build a four-dimensional image of the environment, and all functions of the moving car are controlled using stored software and communications in the cloud.
Google's X-lab began developing an autonomous car in 2009. In 2016, the company had already completed more than 1.5 million test kilometers and spent $1.1 billion on the development of an autonomous car. The company previously used a self-developed model ('the firefly', see photo). The company then deployed converted Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, and these will be exchanged for fully electric Jaguar I-Pace cars.
In 2016, Google's parent company Alphabet parlayed autonomous car developments into a new company called Waymo (derived from "a new way of mobility").
Cruise was founded in 2013 with the intention of developing a self-driving car. In 2016, General Moters acquired the company for an amount of $500 million. To date, the company has completed 700,000 test miles in San Francisco's urban environment with no fatalities.
In 2016, Uber began working with Volvo to develop an autonomous car that could serve as a taxi. The company had acquired software manufacturer Otto for a net $600 million. The company predicted that there will be 75,000 self-driving cars on the road by 2019. That became zero. During the test phase, the company experienced several accidents, including one with a fatal outcome. In addition, Waymo became a target of data theft, a case that was decided in Waymo's favor by the court. Uber therefore had to pay damages of €250 million (in shares). This led to the departure of Uber founder Travis Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has put the development of an autonomous car on the back burner. It was recently announced that Uber has signed a contract with Waymo to use this company's autonomous cars in the future.
Until recently, the use of lidar was not possible due to the high costs for car manufacturers that opt for accreditation at SAE level 3. Tesla therefore equipped its cars exclusively with radar, cameras and computer vision. The latter means that all driving Teslas transmit camera images of traffic and the way in which motorists react to 'the cloud'. The company has been developing these images with artificial intelligence for years. It prides itself on the fact that its cars have rules of conduct for every conceivable traffic situation.
The development of the Tesla was accompanied by high expectations but also by many accidents, some of which were fatal. Last year, Tesla made available a beta version of the FSD ("Full Self Driving") software package for a price of $15,000. However, the company had to recall as many as 362,000 cars under the authority of the Traffic Safety Administration because this package was encouraging illegal driving. It looks like that these issues have been resolved and some experts have suggested that Tesla will be able to qualify for accreditation at least at SEA Level 3. This still has to happen.
Ford and Volkswagen
These companies threw in the towel in 2022 and unplugged Argo, a company that was supposed to develop an autonomous car to provide SAE level 4 taxi services. Instead, both companies announced focusing on the SAE levels 2 and 3, like most auto makers.
According to analysts at AlixPartners, the industry has invested $100 billion in developing car automation by 2023, in addition to $250 billion in development of electric cars. I will discus the profitability of these investments later.
The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is one of the European Commission’s largest city support initiatives supporting European cities in their green and digital transitions. ICC delivers knowledge and support services to cities and their local economies to address two major challenges: making the transition to a net-zero economic model, while enabling social inclusion and sustainable development for every EU citizen.
Cities learn how to address these challenges through Local Green Deals: integrated, multi-disciplinary action plans to lead the green and digital transition across sectors from the built environment, urban mobility and renewable energy systems to tourism or small retailers. Cities become members of a vibrant network, gain access to advisory services, innovation and sustainability management techniques, cutting-edge technology and training and get inspiration and advice from peers and mentor cities.
Building on the success of the previous edition of the ICC programme (2020-22) and Digital Cities Challenge (2017-19), the ICC will now enter Phase 2!
Amsterdam as a Mentor City
Like previous years, Amsterdam has been selected to join the support programme as a mentor city. The city will play a leading support role by guiding the 64 core cities as they embark on their two year journey to create impactful strategies and develop innovative solutions that will place the cities at the forefront of the green and digital twin transition through Local Green Deals. A nice compliment, allowing the Amsterdam Region to share their experiences and learnings from setting up Local Green Deal initiatives over the past years.
The Intelligent Cities Challenge Strategy City Lab: Accelerating the Twin Transition (November 2023)
On 23 and 24 November 2023, over 200 people - a mix of Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) core and mentor cities, political leaders and representatives from European institutions gathered for the first time in-person to discuss the status quo of Twin Transition. Through examples and best practices, attendees had the honour to hear from over 30 speakers as they shared insights into collaboration methods, Local Green Deals, climate ambitions, digital transitions and more across the course of 20 sessions.
Amsterdam Smart CIty's Leonie van den Beuken travelled to this gathering in Brussels as one of the representatives of the Amsterdam Region. She summarized her trip as follows:
This EU program helps cities from north to south, east and west to connect, share and learn. A much needed interaction, as we all try to improve the quality of life of our citizens. We all struggle with the ever rising cost of living. And we all want to get our cities to become more sustainable.
None of this comes easy, but we all know that local collaboration plays a key role. Building local coalitions between government, businesses and citizens is one thing, but how do we make sure these so called coalitions of the willing actually become coalitions of the doing?
Some of the learnings we shared from the Amsterdam Region are; the need for political support and the importance of trust and respect.
Local political leadership will inspire and guide society and entrepreneurs to invest and contribute. However, make sure pilotical support doesn’t evolve into political ownership. When that happens, societal parties and businesses tend to step out the coalition.
Take the importance of trust and respect seriously. You need to show long term commitment, take time to create understanding between parties. Take competition between participating SME’s serious and define together how to handle this together. Create a workflow in which smaller parties are allowed to participate less intense but sill feel incorporated.
We'll keep you up to date on our participation in future gatherings and results from ICC Phase 2. Want to know more? Check https://www.intelligentcitieschallenge.eu/
At this time, every car manufacturer plus hundreds of startups are working on developing artificial intelligence for driving automation. This should enable communication with the car’s passengers, sensing and anticipating the behavior of other vehicles and road users, communicating with the cloud and planning a safe and fast journey. I will write later about the investments made to achieve this goal.
The development of car automation became visible when Google was the first to start a project in 2009. The activities that technology companies and the automotive industry carry out start from two different visions of the desired result.
Maintain the existing traffic system
The first view assumes that automation is a gradual process that will result in drivers ability to transfer control of the vehicle in a safe manner. It is provisionally assumed that a driver will always be present. That is why taking over control is no problem under specific conditions, such as bad weather and crowded streets. Tesla, an outspoken supporter of this vision, has therefore been talking about its autopilot for years. This came under heavy criticism because the number of functions that were automated was limited. Partly because of this, the so-called autopilot could only be used on a limited number of roads and under favorable conditions.
Most established automotive manufacturers primarily have in mind the higher segment of automobiles and announce they will only make relatively cheaper models suitable for this purpose at a later stage. Maintaining the current traffic system is paramount. The car industry wants to avoid at all costs that people will eventually stop buying cars and limit themselves to ride-hailing in autonomous vehicles.
Moving towards another traffic system
The latter is exactly the intention of the companies that adhere to the second vision. These primarily include non-traditional automotive companies, with Google (later Alphabet) in the lead. What they had in mind from the start was to achieve SAE level 4 and, in the long term, SAE 5 level, cars that can drive safely on the road without the presence of a driver. Companies belonging to this group advocate a completely new transport system. In their opinion, safe driving at SAE level 3 is impossible if the driver is not constantly paying attention. They believe that in the event of a 'disengagement signal', taking control of the car takes too much time and will result in dangerous situations. In addition to Google, Uber (in collaboration with Volvo) also belonged to this group, but now appears to have dropped out. This also applies to Ford and Volkswagen. General Motors is betting on two horses and aims to maintain accreditation at SAE level 4 with its subsidiary Cruise, although Alphabet's subsidiary Waymo has by far the best cards.
Important message for the readers
From next year on, the frequency of my articles about the quality of our living environment will decrease. I admit to an old love: Music. In my new website (in Dutch) I write about why we love music, richly provided with examples. Maybe you will like it. Follow the link below to have a look.
The term 'self-driving car' is used for a wide variety of technical support systems for car drivers. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has distinguished six types, as mentioned in the tabel above. This classification is recognized worldwide.
At SAE level 0, a car has been equipped with various warning systems, such as unvoluntary deviation from lane, traffic in the blind spot, and emergency braking.
At SEA levels 1 and 2, cars can steer independently or/and adjust their speed in specific conditions on motorways. Whether drivers are allowed to take their hands from the steering wheel depends on national law. That is certainly not the case in Europe. As soon as environmental conditions make steering and acceleration more complex, for example after turning onto a busy street, the driver must immediately take over the steering.
A properly functioning SAE Level 3 system allows drivers to take their eyes off the road and focus on other activities. They must sit behind the wheel and be on standby and are always held responsible for driving the car. They must immediately take over control of the car as soon as 'the system' gives a ('disengagement') signal, which means that it can no longer handle the situation. There is currently no car worldwide that is accredited at SEA-3 level.
This level of control is not sufficient for driverless taxi services. Automotive and technology companies such as General Moters and Alphabet have been working hard to meet the requirements of the higher levels (SAE 4). Their expensive cars (up to $250,000) have automated backups, meaning they can handle any situation under specified conditions, such as well-designed roads, during the day and at a certain speed. Under these circumstances, no driver is required to be present.
SAE Level 5 automation can operate without a driver in all conditions. There is currently no vehicle that meets this requirement.
The variety of options in this classification explains why the term 'self-driving car' should not be used. Cars classified at SAE level 1 and 2 can best be called 'automated cars' and cars from SAE level 3 onwards can be called autonomous cars.
The state of California introduced new rules in 2019 that allow cars at SAE 4 level to participate in traffic. Very strict conditions apply to this. As a result, Alphabet (Waymo) and General Motors (Cruise) have been allowed to launch driverless taxi services. All rides are monitored with cameras to prevent reckless behavior or vandalism.
<strong>Last week, you might have read the last in a series of 25 posts about improving environmental quality. Right now, I have finalized an e-book containing all posts plus additional recommendations. If you follow the link below, you can download the book (90 pages) for free. A version in Dutch language can be downloaded HERE**</strong>
At the start of November, I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona for the World Smart City Expo 2023. Together with my Amsterdam Smart City colleagues and a group of our network partners, I organized -and took part in- keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and visits to international pavilions. As this was my second time visiting the Expo with our network, I was able to keep my focus on the content amidst the overwhelming congress hall and side activities. The following text describes some of my best insights and discoveries.
Informal Transport: Challenges and Opportunities
My mobility colleague Chris de Veer took part in a panel discussion on public transport and mobility options in urban environments. Following a plea on the implementation of micro subsidies (increasing equity and efficiency of subsidies), Chris explained the Dutch efforts to get people out of theirs cars and onto bikes and public transport, and making shared mobility solutions accessible for everyone. An important story but something I’ve been working on and getting really familiar with the past year. However, when Maria Nieto, a DU60th PhD Scholar, entered the conversation the discussion took an unexpected turn.
Maria introduced the topic of Popular, or Informal, Transport. For some years, she had been studying this topic of individuals and small scale entrepreneurs organizing ‘unregulated’ transport services. While many would say that this is ‘just chaos on the streets’ (think of the Rickshaws in New Delhi, or the moped taxi’s in Asian countries), she argued how it’s actually quite an efficient and demand responsive service. With the help of public authorities, this source of livelihood for many could be implemented in urban mobility systems. And if electric vehicle alterations would be relatively cheaper, these entrepreneurs would be happy to help make this large fleet more sustainable overnight. Furthermore, they could help please our obsession for data on travel behaviour. These drivers know exactly where people are traveling to- and from!
But where to start? Randolf Wilson, head of the Department of Transport at Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (Ghana) and Ajoy Sharma, Principal Secretary at the Government of Punjab (India) shared stories from their own districts and how they’re trying to improve this sector. They explained how the main challenges revolve around unsafe working (& traffic) conditions and unregulated pricing mechanisms. In order to get a grip on these problems they are currently doing their best to map this sector. Unions play a key role in getting as many entrepreneurs registered as possible. Through these unions, governments are able to (micro)subsidize this growing sector, collaborate with the drivers, and ‘tidy up the chaos’.
This panel made me realize how every country and region is dealing with their own mobility challenges, and how extremely organized our own mobility system is.
Pikala Bikes in Marrakech
During the congress, I had the pleasure of meeting Cantal Bakker, founder of Pikala Bikes. With Pikala Bikes, she is introducing the city of Marrakech to cycling culture and the benefits it brings to people, their health and the city as a whole. Unknowingly, I had actually visited her repair café in March, when I travelled though Morocco.
With the help of financial income from bike tours, bike rentals, repairs and the café, Cantal is training and employing Moroccan youth in the cycling and tourism sector. At the same time, the growing presence of bikes in the urban environment inspires citizens to consider biking as a means of transport instead of the popular mopeds.
However, because the local government is still hesitant in giving cyclists more space in their infrastructure plans, she’s now putting extra effort in convincing local authorities of all the benefits a growing cycling culture could bring to the city. As this is one of the Netherlands’ great export products, we look forward to help her in connecting with Dutch ambassadors and high profile names within the Dutch cycling sector and add some persuasive power to the table!
Affordable and sustainable housing
During the final day of the Expo, I decided to join a talk on the challenges and opportunities regarding affordable and sustainable housing. While I’m not professionally involved in this sector, I do have great personal interest in this global challenge.
The panel consisted of a combination of architects, researchers and city officials. I was especially impressed by John Roberson, Chief Operating Officer for the City of Chicago. His way of talking and the Chicago projects he described were inspiring. I decided to hang on for a while afterwards to speak to him.
We had a conversation about one of the aspects of our current housing crisis that intrigues me; apart from the need for more physical buildings for housing, there also needs to be more ‘flow’ in our current housing market. There are too much house owners and tenants living in a house that’s not ‘suited’ for their current stage and situation in life. Think of; elderly who are living alone in a spacious multiple bedroom house, and a starting family cramped up in a studio. He explained to me how culture and pride make this a difficult matter; people consider their (family)homes their biggest pride and property in life. Furthermore, the longer people live and settle in a place, the harder it gets to move and build up a life and social network in a different place. To overcome this lack of flow in the housing market (e.g. elderly occupying big family homes), we shouldn’t focus on measures to get people out of their houses, but we should make housing options for elderly as attractive as possible and distributed throughout the country. Moving away from family and the social circle you’ve build up throughout life, is one of the biggest reasons not to move!
A big thank you to all people involved in making this International trip happen, and I’m excited to follow up with all the new people and organizations I’ve met! See you next year Barcelona!
Deelscooteraanbieder Check introduceert vandaag een veiligheidsslot in haar app: de Safety Lock. De Safety Lock is ontworpen in afstemming met jongerenorganisatie TeamAlert. Met het slot kunnen gebruikers de eigen Check app tijdelijk blokkeren voor het reserveren van voertuigen. Op deze manier beschermt de gebruiker zichzelf tegen het (laagdrempelig) gebruik maken van scooters op een later tijdstip. Naast de Safety Lock introduceert Check ook een gerichte communicatiecampagne om gebruikers op relevante momenten te wijzen op de gevolgen van rijden onder invloed.
TeamAlert: ‘Actie nodig om dronken jongeren van deelscooter te houden’
In februari 2023 publiceerde TeamAlert, een organisatie die zich inzet voor de verkeersveiligheid van jongeren, een enquête waaruit blijkt dat ruim een kwart van de jonge deelscootergebruikers met een leeftijd tot en met 24 jaar wel eens onder invloed op een deelscooter stapt en de risico’s daarvan onderschat. De enquête was onder bijna duizend jongeren afgenomen. Naar aanleiding van het onderzoek riep TeamAlert gemeenten en deelscooteraanbieders op om in actie te komen en na te denken over oplossingen.
Deelscooteraanbieder Check introduceert de Safety Lock
Het onderzoek van TeamAlert, in combinatie met een landelijke toename van het gebruik van alcohol en drugs in het verkeer in 2022 (37,4% meer uitgedeelde boetes), is aanleiding geweest voor deelscooteraanbieder Check om in actie te komen. Op basis van meerdere gesprekken en feedbacksessies met deelscootergebruikers en verschillende autoriteiten op het gebied van verkeersveiligheid, waaronder TeamAlert, introduceert Check vandaag de Safety Lock. Met het slot kan elke gebruiker de eigen Check app tijdelijk blokkeren voor het reserveren van voertuigen. Op deze manier beschermt de gebruiker zichzelf tegen het (laagdrempelig) gebruik maken van scooters op een later tijdstip. Mochten gebruikers het slot toch willen deactiveren, omdat ze bijvoorbeeld niet onder invloed zijn, dan moeten ze eerst verplicht één minuut lang een tutorial over de gevolgen van rijden onder invloed bekijken. Gebruikers die het slot activeren worden gestimuleerd om hun Safety Lock te delen met vrienden om uit te dragen dat onder invloed zijn en rijden, niet samen gaat.
De Safety Lock helpt de gebruiker bij het maken van de juiste keuze
Saar Hadders, gedragsonderzoeker bij TeamAlert, legt uit hoe de Safety Lock gebruikers in staat stelt om de juiste keuzes te maken: “Onder sommige gebruikers geldt een sociale norm dat het rijden onder invloed op een deelscooter normaal is. Door het bedenken van een nieuwe feature om rijden onder invloed op deelscooters tegen te gaan, zendt Check een krachtige boodschap uit dat dit gedrag niet oké is. In de omgeving van jongeren zijn vrienden erg belangrijk in het creëren van een veilige sociale norm. Doordat de Safety Lock gebruikers stimuleert om de feature met hun vrienden te delen, wordt deze sociale norm versterkt.”
Hadders: “Jongeren hebben niet altijd de intentie om na een avondje stappen onder invloed te gaan rijden, maar door een combinatie van impulsiviteit en het effect van alcohol kan deze intentie vervagen. De Safety Lock biedt jongeren de mogelijkheid om zichzelf vóórdat ze hun eerste drankje drinken, te behoeden voor een onveilige rit naar huis. Wanneer gebruikers in de loop van de avond tóch van gedachten veranderen, deelt Check kennis over waarom het goed is om nuchter te rijden. Deze kennis kan helpen om alsnog het veilige gedrag te vertonen en ander vervoer te kiezen.”
De Safety Lock wordt versterkt door gerichte en relevante communicatie
Check heeft de communicatie om rijden onder invloed tegen te gaan opgedeeld in drie tijdvakken. De tijdvakken zijn gebaseerd op onderzoek van het SWOV. Afhankelijk van het tijdvak worden gebruikers aangemoedigd tot verantwoordelijk gedrag in het verkeer, bijvoorbeeld door gebruikers voorafgaand aan een avondje uit te attenderen op de mogelijkheid om het Safety Lock te activeren. Gebruikers die vrijdag- of zaterdagnacht tussen 23.00 uur en 06.00 uur een deelscooter willen pakken moeten eerst verplicht een tutorial kijken over de gevolgen van rijden onder invloed.
If autonomous cars can transport us affordably, do we no longer want to own our own car? Are we switching en masse from public transport, do we leave our bikes unused, or do we walk less? Do we drive alone, or do we share the car with other passengers? Will autonomous cars share he road with other traffic, including cycling? Are we going to use a car more often and longer and how many cars drive empty waiting for a customer?
Of course, no scientific study can answer all these questions yet. Nevertheless, research offers some insight.
First, what do we know about the influence of ride-hailing? That is calling a taxi from Uber or Lyft and a handful of other companies with an app. Juniper Research expects that the use of this service, which already has a global turnover of $ 147 billion, will increase fivefold in the coming five years, regardless of whether the taxis involved are 'self -driving' or not. Clear is that most users seem not to appreciate the presence of fellow passengers: the number of travelers that share journeys is only 13%.
Research in seven major American cities shows that 49 to 61 percent of all Uber and Lyft-taxi rides would have been made by walking, cycling, taking public transport or not at all. These journeys only replace car use to a limited extent. As a result, the number of train passengers has already fallen by 1.3% per year and that by bus by 1.7%. At the same time, congestion has increased.
A publication in the Journal Transport policy showed that travelers travel twice as many kilometers in every American region that they would have done if Uber and Lyft did not exist. It also turned out that taxis drive empty 50% of the time while they are waiting for or on their way to a new customer. Another study found that many Uber and Lyft customers who once used public transport buy a car for themselves.
The effect of 'self -driving' cars
The number of studies after the (possible) effect of the arrival of 'self -driving' cars is increasing rapidly. Research by the Boston Consultancy Group showed that 30% of all journeys will take place in a 'self -driving' car as soon as they are available. A considerable number of former public transport users says they will change. Despite the price advantage, the respondents will make little use of the option to share a car with other passengers, but it is known that attitudes and related behavior often differ. Nevertheless, this data has been used to calculate that there will be more cars on the road in large parts of the cities, resulting in more traffic jams.
Semi-experimental research also showed that the ability to travel with a 'self-driving' car results in an increase in the number of kilometers covered by around 60%. Unless autonomous cars drive electrically, this will also have significant negative consequences for the environment.
The Robottaxis in suburbs had a different effect: here travelers would leave their car at home more often and use the taxi to be transported to a station.
See robot taxis and public transport in combination
Despite all the reservations that must be made with this type of research, all results indicate a significant increase in the use of taxis, which will be at the expense of public transport and will result in more traffic jams in urbanized areas. This growth can be reversed by making shared transport more attractive. Especially on the routes to and from train, metro, and bus stations. Only in that case, will there be an ideal transport model for the future: large-scale and fast public transport on the main roads and small-scale public transport for the last kilometers and in rural areas.
In a couple of days my new ebook will be available. It is a collection of the 25 recommendations for better streets, neighbourhoods and city's that have been published at this spot during the last months
How far are we from large-scale use of 'self-driving' cars. This and subsequent posts deal with this question. In answering it, I will focus on the potential contribution of self-driving cars to the quality of the living environment. Nowadays, the development of self-driving cars has faded a bit into the background. There is a reason for that, and I will get to it later.
When 'self-driving' vehicles first emerged, many believed that a new urban utopia was within reach. This would save millions of lives and contribute to a more livable environment. However, it is only one of the scenarios. Dan Sperling writes: The dream scenario could yield enormous public and private benefits, including greater freedom of choice, greater affordability and accessibility, and healthier, more livable cities, along with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The nightmare scenario could lead to even further urban expansion, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy cities and people.
The dream scenario
Do you have to go somewhere? On request, a self-driving car will stop in front of your door within a few minutes to make the desired journey. After you have been safely dropped, the car drives to the next destination. Until a few years ago, companies like Uber and Lync were looking forward to the day when they could fire all their drivers and offer their services with 'self-driving' cars. Naturally at lower prices, which would multiply their customer base. In this scenario, no one wants to have their own car anymore, right? The number of road casualties also will reduce drastically in this scenario. Autonomous cars do not drink, do not drive too fast, never get tired and anticipate unexpected actions of other road users much faster than human drivers. At least that was the argument.
Quick calculations by the proponents of this scenario show that the number of cars needed for passenger transport could decrease by a factor of 20 (!).
The nightmare scenario
This calculation was perhaps a little too fast: Its validity depends on a perfect distribution of all trips over day and night and over the urban space and on the presence of other road users. What you don't want to think about is that outside rush hour, most of the fleet of 'self-driving' cars is stationary somewhere or driving aimlessly in circles. Moreover, the dream scenario assumes that no one switches from public transport, walking, or cycling. Instead of improving cities, these types of cars have the potential to ruin them even further, according to Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar. Taxis, especially those from Uber and Lyft, are already contributing to traffic jams in major American cities and to the erosion of public transportation
Both views are based on suspicions, expectations, and extrapolations and a dose of 'wishful thinking' too. In the next posts, I will discuss results of scientific research that allows to form a more informed opinion about both scenarios.
Dit you already visit my new website 'Expeditie Muziek'. This week an exploration of world-class singer-songwriter 'Shania Twain
A lot of what we did in Barcelona was about making connections, sharing knowledge, and being inspired. However, we wouldn’t be Amsterdam Smart City if we didn’t give it a bit of our own special flavour. That’s why we decided to take this inspiring opportunity to start a new challenge about floating neighbourhoods together with Anja Reimann (municipality of Amsterdam) and Joke Dufourmont (AMS Institute). The session was hosted at the Microsoft Pavilion.
We are facing many problems right now in the Netherlands. With climate change, flooding and drought are both becoming big problems. We have a big housing shortage and net congestion is becoming a more prominent problem every day. This drove the municipality of Amsterdam and AMS institute to think outside the box when it came to building a new neighbourhood and looking towards all the space we have on the water. Floating neighbourhoods might be the neighbourhoods of the future. In this session, we dived into the challenges and opportunities that this type of neighbourhood can bring.
The session was split up into two parts. The first part was with municipalities and governmental organisations to discuss what a floating neighbourhood would look like. The second part was with entrepreneurs who specialized in mobility to discuss what mobility on and around a floating neighbourhood should look like.
Part one - What should a floating neighbourhood look like?
In this part of the session, we discussed what a floating district should look like:
- What will we do there?
- What will we need there?
- How will we get there?
We discussed by having all the contestants place their answers to these questions on post-its and putting them under the questions. We voted on the post-its to decide what points we found most important.
A few of the answers were:
- One of the key reasons for a person to live in a floating neighbourhood would be to live closer to nature. Making sure that the neighbourhood is in balance with nature is therefore very important.
- We will need space for nature (insects included), modular buildings, and space for living (not just sleeping and working). There need to be recreational spaces, sports fields, theatres and more.
- To get there we would need good infrastructure. If we make a bridge to this neighbourhood should cars be allowed? Or would we prefer foot and bicycle traffic, and, of course, boats? In this group, a carless neighbourhood had the preference, with public boat transfer to travel larger distances.
Part two - How might we organise the mobility system of a floating district?
In the second part of this session, we had a market consultation with mobility experts. We discussed how to organise the mobility system of a floating neighbourhood:
- What are the necessary solutions for achieving this? What are opportunities that are not possible on land and what are the boundaries of what’s possible?
- Which competencies are necessary to achieve this and who has them (which companies)?
- How would we collaborate to achieve this? Is an innovation partnership suitable as a method to work together instead of a public tender? Would you be willing to work with other companies? What business model would work best to collaborate?
We again discussed these questions using the post-it method. After a few minutes of intense writing and putting up post-its we were ready to discuss. There a lot of points so here are only a few of the high lights:
- Local energy: wind, solar, and water energy. There are a lot of opportunities for local energy production on the water because it is often windy, you can generate energy from the water itself, and solar energy is available as well. Battery storage systems are crucial for this.
- Autonomous boats such as the roboat. These can be used for city logistics (parcels) for instance.
- Wireless charging for autonomous ferry’s.
- It should be a pleasant and social place to live in.
- Data needs to be optimized for good city logistics. Shared mobility is a must.
- GPS signal doesn’t work well on water. A solution must be found for this.
- There needs to be a system in place for safety. How would a fire department function on water for instance?
- Grid operators should be involved. What would the electricity net look like for a floating neighbourhood?
- How do you work together with the mainland? Would you need the mainland or can a floating neighbourhood be self-sufficient?
- We should continue working on this problem on a demo day from Amsterdam Smart City!
A lot more interesting points were raised, and if you are interested in this topic, please reach out to us and get involved. We will continue the conversation around floating neighbourhoods in 2024.
My fifth round at World Smart City Expo in Barcelona brought a blend of familiarity and fresh perspectives. Over the past few years I have grown increasingly skeptical of what I often call “stupid” smart-solutions like surveillance systems, sensored waste bins and digital twins which dominate the Expo. I’ve learned that these solutions often lock cities into proprietary systems and substantial investments with uncertain returns. Amidst this skepticism, I found this year’s activities to be a hub of insightful exchanges and reconnection with international peers. Here's a rundown of my top five learnings and insights from the activities I co-organized or engaged in during the event:
- Generative AI Potential: Visiting the Microsoft Pavilion offered a glimpse into the transforming potential of Generative AI. Microsoft showcased a new product enabling organizations to train their own Generative AI models using internal data, potentially revolutionizing how work gets done. Given the impact we’ve already seen from platforms like OpenAI in the past year, and Microsoft's ongoing investment in this field, it's intriguing to ponder its implications for the future of work.
- BIT Habitat Urban Innovation Approach: I was impressed to learn more about Barcelona’s practical urban innovation approach based on Mariana Mazzucato vision. Every year the city defines a number of challenges and co-finance solutions. Examples of challenges tackled through this program include lowering the number of motorbike accidents, and improving the accessibility of public busses in the city. The aim of the approach is not to develop a new solution, but to find ways to co-finance innovation that generates a public return. This governmental push to shape the market resonates as a much-needed move in the smart city landscape where gains are often privatized while losses are socialized.
- EU Mission: Climate Neutrality and Smart Cities: Discussions at the European Commission’s pavilion with representatives from the NetZeroCities consortium highlighted the need for standardized CO2 monitoring in cities. Currently, methodologies vary widely, making comparisons difficult. Practically this means that one ton of CO2 as calculated in one city might translate to zero or two tons of CO2 in another city. While meeting cities at different stages on their climate journey is crucial (ie some cities might only monitor Scope 1 & 2 emissions, while others will also include Scope 3), a key priority for the European Commission and NetZeroCities should be to implement more standardized and robust approaches for measuring and monitoring CO2 emissions, for instance using satellite data.
- Sustainability & Digitalization Dilemmas: Participating in SmartCitiesWorld’s sustainability roundtable revealed several challenges and dilemmas. A key issue raised by participating cities is that sustainable solutions often benefit only certain segments of the population. Think for instance about the subsides for electric vehicles in your city or country – they most likely flow to the wealthiest portion of the population. Moreover, the assumption that digital and green solutions always complement each other is being challenged, as city representatives are starting to understand that digital solutions can contradict and undermine energy efficiency and neutrality goals. Ultimately many of the participants in the roundtable agree on the need to focus much more on low-tech and behavioral solutions instead of always looking to tech innovations which in many cases are neither affordable, nor effective in achieving their stated goals.
- Drum & Bass Bike Rave: Despite the interesting sessions and conversations, it’s an event outside the Expo that emerged as the highlight for me. Two days before the Expo I joined Dom Whiting’s Drum & Bass On The Bike event, with thousands other people taking to the streets of Barcelona on bikes, roller bladders and skateboards. Whiting first started playing music on his bike to counteract loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic, and since then he has become a global sensation. This was by far the largest and most special critical mass event I have ever participated, and the collective experience was electrifying. To paraphrase H. G. Wells who is thought to have said that “every time I seem an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race”, I can similarly say that seeing thousands of people bike and jam through the streets of Barcelona provided me with a glimpse into a hopeful future where community, sustainability and joy intersect.
Overall, I experienced this edition of the Smart City Expo as a melting pot of diverse perspectives and a valuable opportunity to connect with international peers. However, I do have two perennial critiques and recommendations for next year's event. Firstly, the Dutch delegation should finally organize a "Climate Train" as the main transport for its 300+ delegates to and from the Expo. Secondly, I advocate for a shift in the Expo's focus, prioritizing institutional and policy innovations over the current tech-driven approach. This shift would better address the real challenges cities face and the solutions they need, fulfilling the Expo's ambition to be the platform shaping the future of cities as places we aspire to live in.
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