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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.
From February 16 to 18, 2022 AMS Institute hosts the scientific conference "Reinventing the City". Working on urban challenges requires cooperation on a multi-stakeholder level. This is what we do as an institute, and is also the primary goal of the conference. "To share and discuss multidisciplinary insights and inspire each other to take actionable steps towards sustainable urban transformations."
The conference will bring together over 200 urban innovators ranging from scientists, policymakers, students to industry partners. We will discuss how cities can transform their systems on a metropolitan scale, to become more livable, resilient, sustainable and offer economic stability. Don't miss out on this amazing event, and register now.
This is event is hosted by AMS Institute in collaborations with the City of Amsterdam.
In the 11th episode of the series Better cities: The contribution of digital technology, I will apply the ethical principles from episode 9 to the design and use of artificial intelligence.
Before, I will briefly summarize the main features of artificial intelligence, such as big data, algorithms, deep-learning, and machine learning. For those who want to know more: Radical technologies by Adam Greenfield (2017) is a very readable introduction, also regarding technologies such as blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things, and robotics, which will be discussed in next episodes.
Artificial intelligence has valuable applications but also gross forms of abuse. Valuable, for example, is the use of artificial intelligence in the layout of houses and neighborhoods, taking into account ease of use, views and sunlight with AI technology from Spacemaker or measuring the noise in the center of Genk using Nokia's Scene Analytics technology. It is reprehensible how the police in the US discriminate against population groups with programs such as PredPol and how the Dutch government has dealt in the so called ‘toelagenaffaire’.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, a computer can independently recognize patterns. Recognizing patterns as such is nothing new. This has long been possible with computer programs written for that purpose. For example, to distinguish images of dogs and cats, a programmer created an "if....then" description of all relevant characteristics of dogs and cats that enabled a computer to distinguish between pictures of the two animal species. The number of errors depended on the level of detail of the program. When it comes to more types of animals and animals that have been photographed from different angles, making such a program is very complicated. In that case, a computer can be trained to distinguish relevant patterns itself. In this case we speak of artificial intelligence. People still play an important role in this. This role consists in the first place in writing an instruction - an algorithm - and then in the composition of a training set, a selection of a large number of examples, for example of animals that are labeled as dog or cat and if necessary lion tiger and more . The computer then searches 'itself' for associated characteristics. If there are still too many errors, new images will be added.
The way in which the animals are depicted can vary endlessly, whereby it is no longer about their characteristics, but about shadow effect, movement, position of the camera or the nature of the movement, in the case of moving images. The biggest challenge is to teach the computer to take these contextual characteristics into account as well. This is done through the imitation of the neural networks. Image recognition takes place just like in our brains thanks to distinguishing layers, varying from distinguishing simple lines, patterns, and colors to differences in sharpness. Because of this layering, we speak of 'deep learning'. This obviously involves large data sets and a lot of computing power, but it is also a labor-intensive process.
Learning how to apply algorithms under supervision produces reliable results and the instructor can still explain the result after many iterations. As the situation becomes more complicated and different processes are proceeding at the same time, guided instruction is not feasible any longer. For example, if animals attack each other, surviving or not, and the computer must predict which kind of animals have the best chance of survival under which conditions. Also think of the patterns that the computer of a car must be able to distinguish to be able to drive safely on of the almost unlimited variation, supervised learning no longer works.
In the case of unsupervised learning, the computer is fed with data from many millions of realistic situations, in the case of cars recordings of traffic situations and the way the drivers reacted to them. Here we can rightly speak of 'big data' and 'machine learning', although these terms are often used more broadly. For example, the car's computer 'learns' how and when it must stay within the lanes, can pass, how pedestrians, bicycles or other 'objects' can be avoided, what traffic signs mean and what the corresponding action is. Tesla’s still pass all this data on to a data center, which distills patterns from it that regularly update the 'autopilots' of the whole fleet. In the long run, every Tesla, anywhere in the world, should recognize every imaginable pattern, respond correctly and thus guarantee the highest possible level of safety. This is apparently not the case yet and Tesla's 'autopilot' may therefore not be used without the presence of a driver 'in control'. Nobody knows by what criteria a Tesla's algorithms work.
Unsupervised learning is also applied when it comes to the prediction of (tax) fraud, the chance that certain people will 'make a mistake' or in which places the risk of a crime is greatest at a certain moment. But also, in the assessment of applicants and the allocation of housing. For all these purposes, the value of artificial intelligence is overestimated. Here too, the 'decisions' that a computer make are a 'black box'. Partly for this reason, it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace and correct any errors afterwards. This is one of the problems with the infamous ‘toelagenaffaire’.
The cybernetic loop
Algorithmic decision-making is part of a new digital wave, characterized by a 'cybernetic loop' of measuring (collecting data), profiling (analyzing data) and intervening (applying data). These aspects are also reflected in every decision-making process, but the parties involved, politicians and representatives of the people make conscious choices step by step, while the entire process is now partly a black box.
The role of ethical principles
Meanwhile, concerns are growing about ignoring ethical principles using artificial intelligence. This applies to near all principles that are discussed in the 9th episode: violation of privacy, discrimination, lack of transparency and abuse of power resulting in great (partly unintentional) suffering, risks to the security of critical infrastructure, the erosion of human intelligence and undermining of trust in society. It is therefore necessary to formulate guidelines that align the application of artificial intelligence again with these ethical principles.
An interesting impetus to this end is given in the publication of the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers: Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. The Rathenau Institute has also published several guidelines in various publications.
The main guidelines that can be distilled from these and other publications are:
1. Placing responsibility for the impact of the use of artificial intelligence on both those who make decisions about its application (political, organizational, or corporate leadership) and the developers. This responsibility concerns the systems used as well as the quality, accuracy, completeness, and representativeness of the data.
2. Prevent designers from (unknowingly) using their own standards when instructing learning processes. Teams with a diversity of backgrounds are a good way to prevent this.
3. To be able to trace back 'decisions' by computer systems to the algorithms used, to understand their operation and to be able to explain them.
4. To be able to scientifically substantiate the model that underlies the algorithm and the choice of data.
5. Manually verifying 'decisions' that have a negative impact on the data subject.
6. Excluding all forms of bias in the content of datasets, the application of algorithms and the handling of outcomes.
7. Accountability for the legal basis of the combination of datasets.
8. Determine whether the calculation aims to minimize false positives or false negatives.
9. Personal feedback to clients in case of lack of clarity in computerized ‘decisions’.
10. Applying the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity, which means determining on a case-by-case basis whether the benefits of using artificial intelligence outweigh the risks.
11. Prohibiting applications of artificial intelligence that pose a high risk of violating ethical principles, such as facial recognition, persuasive techniques and deep-fake techniques.
12. Revocation of legal provisions if it appears that they cannot be enforced in a transparent manner due to their complexity or vagueness.
The third, fourth and fifth directives must be seen in conjunction. I explain why below.
The scientific by-pass of algorithmic decision making
When using machine learning, computers themselves adapt and extend the algorithms and combine data from different data sets. As a result, the final ‘decisions’ made by the computer cannot be explained. This is only acceptable after it has been proven that these decisions are 'flawless', for example because, in the case of 'self-driving' cars, if they turn out to be many times safer than ordinary cars, which - by the way - is not the case yet.
Unfortunately, this was not the case too in the ‘toelagenaffaire’. The fourth guideline could have provided a solution. Scientific design-oriented research can be used to reconstruct the steps of a decision-making process to determine who is entitled to receive an allowance. By applying this decision tree to a sufficiently large sample of cases, the (degree of) correctness of the computer's 'decisions' can be verified. If this is indeed the case, then the criteria used in the manual calculation may be used to explain the processes in the computer's 'black box'. If there are too many deviations, then the computer calculation must be rejected at all.
In the US, the use of algorithms in the public sector has come in a bad light, especially because of the facial recognition practices that will be discussed in the next episode. The city of New York has therefore appointed an algorithm manager, who investigates whether the algorithms used comply with ethical and legal rules. KPMG has a supervisory role in Amsterdam. In other municipalities, we see that role more and more often fulfilled by an ethics committee.
In the European public domain, steps have already been taken to combat excesses of algorithmic decision-making. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in 2018, has significantly improved privacy protection. In April 2019, the European High Level Expert Group on AI published ethical guidelines for the application of artificial intelligence. In February 2020, the European Commission also established such guidelines, including in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and an AI regulation. The government also adopted the national digitization strategy, the Strategic Action Plan for AI and the policy letter on AI, human rights, and public values.
I realize that binding governments and their executive bodies to ethical principles is grist to the mill for those who flout those principles. Therefore, the search for the legitimate use of artificial intelligence to detect crime, violations or abuse of subsidies and many other applications continues to deserve broad support.
Follow the link below to find one of the previous episodes or see which episodes are next, and this one for the Dutch version.
Free, open access toolkit of people-centered methods for urban planners, designers, and advocates to make cycling inclusive and accessible to all.
Het afgelopen jaar verschenen er tal van rapporten over digitalisering en technologisering. Maar wat kunnen we daarmee in 2022? Welke lessen kunnen we trekken voor de slimme stad? Welke ideeën kunnen ons gaan inspireren in dit nieuwe smartcityjaar?
Dit soort gesprekken voer je normaal gesproken als je elkaar tegenkomt tijdens een nieuwjaarsborrel, een congres of een andere netwerkbijeenkomst. Helaas kan dit nu even niet fysiek, maar gelukkig laat het digitale ons niet in de steek. Zo kunnen we toch met elkaar nieuwe kennis delen en verspreiden.
Daarom is de Future City Foundation op zoek gegaan naar de makers en bedenkers achter de rapporten. Zo gaan we op 26 januari in gesprek met deelfietsgoeroe van Nederland Ronald Haverman en laten ons door zijn ideeën inspireren.
Wanneer: 26 januari van 16.00- 17.00 uur
Let op: Dit webinar wordt niet opgenomen en is dus een eenmalige kans om in gesprek te gaan met Ronald Haverman.
Achttien jaar geleden was het nog een utopie: fietsen die je kunt delen. Niet voor Ronald Haverman, de bedenker van een van de eerste deelfietsen ter wereld: de (inmiddels bekende) OV-fiets.
Maar wat is de volgende innovatie? Want Haverman is nog lang niet klaar met oplossingen bedenken. Hij is inmiddels werkzaam als mobiliteitsstrateeg bij de provincie Zuid-Holland en deelt op 26 januari zijn ideeën over hoe deelmobiliteit een oplossing kan zijn voor ruimtegebrek en een meer duurzame samenleving.
Hoe ziet hij dat voor zich? Hoe zet je bijvoorbeeld slimme oplossingen als geofencing in om deelmobiliteit optimaal te laten werken? Wat is de volgende OV-fiets?
Ben jij ondernemer in de textielbranche en benieuwd naar circulaire business kansen voor jouw bedrijf?
In februari 2022 organiseert de CIRCO HUB Noord-Holland een track omtrent textiel hergebruik & recycling waarin je onder begeleiding concrete stappen zet in het (her)ontwikkelen van nieuwe, circulaire producten, diensten of businessmodellen.
Meer weten en circulaire kansen ontdekken? Neem dan snel een kijkje en meld je aan voor deze driedaagse CIRCO Track.
CIRCO Hub Noord-Holland bestaat uit Impact Hub Amsterdam, Noorderwind, Stichting Circulair West en Natuur en Milieufederatie Noord-Holland en draagt bij aan het verspreiden van kennis over circulair ontwerpen en ondernemen. Door het aanbieden van verschillende CIRCO Tracks helpen we MKB in diverse sectoren om nieuwe circulaire ondernemingskansen te ontwikkelen.
AMS Institute and SmartHubs are happy to announce the third episode of their webinar series on Mobility for the City of Tomorrow on 24 February from 14:00-15:00 (CET).
How to make smart mobility hubs work for everyone? The why of citizen engagement
There are quite some challenges for cities and other stakeholders to make mobility solutions well-tailored for everyone. It starts with finding suitable methods to engage and actively involve different user groups, such as citizens. Subsequently, they have to identify individual user needs with the traveller and co-create transport solutions for the traveller.
With citizen engagement, we try to provide the silent majority with an opportunity to raise their voice. If the SmartHubs project engages the citizen, the city-citizen relation will improve.
Marc Boijens and Laurens van Roozendaal will share some use cases and methods, actively involving the audience.
AMS Institute and SmartHubs are happy to announce the second episode of their webinar series on Mobility for the City of Tomorrow on 3 February from 14:00-15:00 (CET).
Decision support systems for locating smart mobility hubs
With the growing use of shared mobility modes comes the need to regulate and organize them into hub access points that offer several modes together. But there's a challenge. How should these hubs be located in a city so that they contribute to mobility sustainability and positively impact its urban fabric?
With that in mind, the SmartHubs project has been developing a decision support tool to help find the best potential areas for installing shared mobility hubs. It comprises a multi-criteria approach that integrates several objectives into the same overall potential score, providing cities with a geographical picture of where they should prioritize their investments.
Gonçalo Homem de Almeida Rodriguez Correia and Miquel Martí Casanovas will explain the method behind the decision support tool, using the city of Amsterdam as an example.
AMS Institute and SmartHubs are happy to announce the first episode of their webinar series on Mobility for the City of Tomorrow on 20 January from 14:00-15:00 (CET).
How to build the right ecosystem to make smart mobility hubs work?
An ecosystem consists of many parties, and it's beneficial for incremental innovation if there, somehow, is a connection between them. But what if your innovation is disruptive and an entire ecosystem has to undergo a transition? How do you find the right partners for your envisioned ecosystem? How can you create a common goal that is equally beneficial for all partners?
SmartHubs are not about technology but about creating an ecosystem with a solid value proposition and the right business models.
Marc Boijens and Laurens van Roozendaal will tell you more about how they tackle the challenges they encounter in the SmartHubs project.
On December 14 2021, we had a very special demo day. Of course, it was the last of the year. As the Amsterdam Smart City core team, we are very proud of all the collaborations our partners and community started and that's why we wanted to highlight a few of them. To give the demoday a typical Christmas vibe, the pitchers had a 'gift' for the participants: their lessons learned that everyone could benefit from. And the participants had a gift in return: answers to the questions of the pitchers. In short, a demo day with new projects, questioning and sharing insights!
Responsible Sensing Lab and Drones
Hidde Kamst of the City of Amsterdam tells the participants about the Responsible Sensing Lab, a collaboration between the municipality and AMS Institute. This Lab works on the implementation of (social) values in technology in the city. Cameras and sensors in public space can put values such as privacy and anonymity under pressure. The Responsible Sensing Lab researches and designs alternatives. This also applies to the subject of Responsible Drones. A group of civil servants, companies and knowledge institutions worked on a vision on the responsible use of drones. The subjects 'proportionality', 'communications' and 'rules of the game' were discussed.
Hidde’s lessons learned: behind the scenes there are many parties working on drones, but the involvement of residents and civil society is low. It is important to change this because drones can have a big impact on our society. In addition, it is a complex topic where more research is needed. Hidde's request for help 'How do you convey the urgency of a subject that is important, but not yet urgent?' was very recognizable for the participants. A selection of their ideas: repeat the urgency over and over again, visualize the urgency, use storytelling and name the risks.
Shuttercam and Measuring Public Space
Pitch 2 had a big link with Hidde's story. Tom van Arman does various sensing projects on the Marineterrein, also covered by the Responsible Sensing Lab. An example is the Shuttercam, a camera that citizens can put on or off. In this way they can have an influence on the technology in the city. We start Tom's pitch with a question to the participants. Do they find it important that we measure a lot and collect data to improve the city or would they rather see more privacy for residents? A question that provokes discussion.
Tom has been engaged in measuring and testing in the public space for years, with an important role for public values. That's why he learned a lot of lessons: make sure you take the time to get legislation in order, take vandalism into account, do everything you can to make your work understandable for citizens. And a very nice one to remember: a hot camera attracts many insects. They block the image or get into the devices. One of the best tips he got from the participants: let passers-by write down what they see. That way you can get great feedback.
Braking energy and Pilot OV E-hub
André Simonse from Firan (Alliander) introduced us to the 'braking energy' issue, or as it is now is called: the OV E-hub pilot. This started as a search with partners such as AMS Institute, Arcadis, the City of Amsterdam, the
VRA and Alliander. Now the process evolved into a collaboration between Strukton Rail, Hedgehog Applications and Firan. Big cities can no longer cope with the increasing demand for sustainable energy. This makes it more difficult to access mobility hubs, such as stations, to provide electricity. It is therefore important to use existing energy smartly.
The lessons learned in this pitch were about taking action. Although talking is important for ideation and understanding and trusting each other, the art is to work together on a targeted plan for implementation. André's request for help was on how to organize political support. Willem from the City of Amsterdam wants to be part of the initiative and can help to achieve official support.
Social side of hubs
Willem van Heijningen of the City of Amsterdam took the floor to tell us more about its hub mission. A hub can organize mobility in an effective way. Together with others, he is looking how Q-park Europarking in the center of Amsterdam can be transformed to a hub. Think of shared mobility, charging cars and logistics, while preserving the monumental character of the city. Hearing the word ‘hub’, many people will think of a place to connect different forms of mobility. But it is also about energy. At some point, vehicles, vessels or even drones will come by. Since we want to get rid of fossil fuels, a hub will also become the place where these forms of mobility are charged. The success or failure of hubs is all in the hands of people. It depends on their behavior whether hubs will be useful. Until now, they have got too little attention. T
his is where Willem could use some help: What is needed to bring the social aspect of hubs further? How does the hub prove its effectiveness towards humans? A selection of the answers from the group: investigating the needs of the residents, connect with existing social initiatives in the city, involve local entrepreneurs.
Else Veldman and Hans Roeland Poolman from AMS Institute took us on a tour to their Southeast Energy Lab. This is a collaboration to accelerate sustainability in the southeast of Amsterdam through practical research, meetings and concrete projects. One of the current projects is the LIFE project, an open platform to plan energy supply and demand in a smarter, inclusive way. An enormous ambition that is driven by partners such as Johan Cruijff ArenA, Alliander, Spectral, CoForce and the Utrecht University. AMS Institute is committed to ensuring this platform is not only a technical contribution to the energy transition, but also provides social value to the inhabitants of South-East.
Hans and Else asked the network to think about the latter. The result was a tidal wave of tips to involve residents: co-develop communication strategies such as storytelling and visualization, pay attention to the result, the dream, show what it means to participate in the process, and above all, invest time.
New narrative for the energy transition
The last pitch was about the New Narrative where Kennisland and What Design Can Do on behalf of RES Noord-Holland have been working on. Dave van Loon from Kennisland told us that a new story about the energy transition is being developed to move away from the negative image, people's concerns and to give a new impulse to the energy transition. This narrative is based on a design thinking process. Subsequently, the organizations developed building blocks to focus on:
- a shared sense of urgency
- a positive future perspective
- inspiration by concrete and recognizable examples and success stories
- a sense of pride
- a way to take of action
Dave's request for help was for a reflection on this process. And the reactions were praising. On the one hand, the feedback focused on how to make the story as concrete as possible for the target groups and on the other hand on reaching the masses, while incorporating those who are left behind.
The next demoday will take in place in February or March. Do you have a nice story to tell or would you like to join as audience? You are more than welcome! Drop a line below to let us know!
The 9th episode of the series Building sustainable cities: the contribution of digital technology deals with guidelines and related ethical principles that apply to the design and application of digital technology.
One thing that keeps me awake at night is the speed at which artificial intelligence is developing and the lack of rules for its development and application said Aleksandra Mojsilović, director of IBM Science for Social Good. The European Union has a strong focus on regulations to ensure that technology is people-oriented, ensures a fair and competitive digital economy and contributes to an open, democratic and sustainable society. This relates to more than legal frameworks, also to political choices, ethical principles, and the responsibilities of the profession. This is what this post is about.
Politicians are ultimately responsible for the development, selection, application and use of (digital) technology. In this respect, a distinction must be made between:
• Coordination of digital instruments and the vision on the development of the city.
• Drawing up policy guidelines for digitization in general.
• Recognizing related ethical principles next to these policy guidelines.
• Creating the conditions for democratic oversight of the application of digital technology.
• Make an appeal to the responsibilities of the ICT professional group.
Guidelines for digitization policy
In the previous post I emphasized that the digital agenda must result from the urban policy agenda and that digital instruments and other policy instruments must be seen in mutual relation.
Below are five additional guidelines for digitization policy formulated by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. 36 cities are involved in this initiative, including Apeldoorn, as the only Dutch municipality. The cities involved will elaborate these guidelines soon. In the meantime, I have listed some examples.
Equity, inclusiveness, and social impact
• Enabling every household to use the Internet.
• Making information and communication technology (ICT) and digital communication with government accessible to all, including the physically/mentally disabled, the elderly and immigrants with limited command of the local language.
• Assessing the impact of current digital technology on citizens and anticipating the future impact of this policy.
• Facilitating regular education and institutions for continuous learning to offer easily accessible programs to develop digital literacy.
• Challenging neighborhoods and community initiatives to explore the supportive role of digital devices in their communication and actions.
Security and resilience
• Developing a broadly supported vision on Internet security and its consequences.
• Mandatory compliance with rules and standards (for instance regarding IoT) to protect digital systems against cyberthreats.
• Becoming resilient regarding cybercrime by developing back-up systems that seamless take over services eventually.
• Building resilience against misuse of digital communication, especially bullying, intimidation and threats.
• Reducing the multitude of technology platforms and standards, to limit entry points for cyber attackers.
Privacy and transparency
• The right to move and stay in cities without being digitally surveilled, except in case of law enforcement with legal means.
• Establishing rules in a democratic manner for the collection of data from citizens in the public space.
• Minimalist collection of data by cities to enable services.
• Citizens' right to control their own data and to decide which ones are shared and under which circumstances.
• Using privacy impact assessment as a method for identifying, evaluating, and addressing privacy risks by companies, organizations, and the city itself.
Openness and interoperability
• Providing depersonalized data from as many as possible organizations to citizens and organizations as a reliable evidence base to support policy and to create open markets for interchangeable technology.
• Public registration of devices, their ownership, and their aim.
• Choosing adequate data architecture, including standards, agreements, and norms to enable reuse of digital technology and to avoid lock-ins.
Operational and financial sustainability
• Ensuring a safe and well-functioning Internet
• The coordinated approach ('dig once') of constructing and maintenance of digital infrastructure, including Wi-Fi, wired technologies and Internet of Things (IoT).
• Exploring first, whether the city can develop and manage required technology by itself, before turning to commercial parties.
• Cities, companies, and knowledge institutions share data and cooperate in a precompetitive way at innovations for mutual benefit.
• Digital solutions are feasible: Results are achieved within an agreed time, with an agreed budget.
The guidelines formulated above partly converge with the ethical principles that underlie digitization according to the Rathenau Institute. Below, I will summarize these principles.
• Citizens' right to dispose of their own (digital) data, collected by the government, companies and other organizations.
• Limitation of the data to be collected to those are functionally necessary (privacy by design), which also prevents improper use.
• Data collection in the domestic environment only after personal permission and in the public environment only after consent by the municipal council.
• The right to decide about information to be received.
• The right to reject or consent to independent decision making by digital devices in the home.
• No filtering of information except in case of instructions by democratically elected bodies.
• Ensuring protection of personal data and against identity theft through encryption and biometric recognition.
• Preventing unwanted manipulation of devices by unauthorized persons.
• Providing adequate warnings against risks by providers of virtual reality software.
• Securing exchange of data
• Ensuring public participation in policy development related to digitization
• Providing transparency of decision-making through algorithms and opportunity to influence these decisions by human interventions.
• Decisions taken by autonomous systems always include an explanation of the underlying considerations and provide the option to appeal against this decision.
• Using robotics technology mainly in routinely, dangerous, and dirty work, preferably under supervision of human actors.
• Informing human actors collaborating with robots of the foundations of their operation and the possibilities to influence them.
• Ensuring equal opportunities, accessibility, and benefits for all when applying digital systems
• If autonomous systems are used to assess personal situations, the result is always checked for its fairness, certainty, and comprehensibility for the receiving party.
• In the case of autonomous analysis of human behavior, the motives on which an assessment has taken place can be checked by human intervention.
• Employees in the gig economy have an employment contract or an income as self-employed in accordance with legal standards.
• The possibility of updating software if equipment still is usable, even if certain functionalities are no longer available.
• Companies may not use their monopoly position to antagonize other companies.
• Ensuring equal opportunities, accessibility, and benefits for all when applying digital systems.
The above guidelines and ethical principles partly overlap. Nevertheless, I have not combined them as they represent different frames of reference that are often referred to separately. The principles for digitization policy are particularly suitable for the assessment of digitization policy. The ethical principles are especially useful when assessing different technologies. That is why I will use the latter in the following episodes.
In discussing the digitalization strategy of Amsterdam and other municipalities in later episodes, I will use a composite list of criteria, based on both the above guidelines and ethical principles. This list, titled 'Principles for a socially responsible digitization policy' can already be viewed HERE.
Currently, many municipalities still lack sufficient competencies to supervise the implementation and application of the guidelines and principles mentioned above. Moreover, they are involved as a party themselves. Therefore, setting up an independent advisory body for this purpose is desirable. In the US, almost every city now has a committee for public oversight of digitization. These committees are strongly focused on the role of the police, in particular practices related to facial recognition and predictive policing.
Several cities in the Netherlands have installed an ethics committee. A good initiative. I would also have such a committee supervise the aforementioned policy guidelines and not just the ethical principles. According to Bart Wernaart, lecturer in Moral Design Strategy at Fontys University of applied sciences, such a committee must be involved in digitization policy at an early stage, and it should also learn from mistakes in the field of digitization in the past.
The latter is especially necessary because, as the Dutch Data Protection Authority writes, the identity of an ethically responsible city is, is not set in stone. The best way to connect ethical principles and practice is to debate and questions the implications of policy in practice.
Experts’ own responsibility
A mature professional group has its own ethical principles, is monitoring their implementation, and sanctioning discordant members. In this respect, the medical world is most advanced. As far as I know, the ICT profession has not yet formulated its own ethical principles. This has been done, for example, by the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in the field of artificial intelligence. Sarah Hamid: Data scientists are generally concerned more with the abstract score metric of their models than the direct and indirect impact it can have on the world. However, experts often understand the unforeseen implications of government policy earlier than politicians. Hamid addresses the implications for professional action: If computer scientists really hoped to make a positive impact on the world, then they would need to start asking better questions. The road to technology implementation by governments is paved with failures. Professionals have often seen this coming, but have rarely warned, afraid of losing an assignment. Self-confident professionals must therefore say 'no' much more often to a job description. Hamid: Refusal is an essential practice for anyone who hopes to design sociotechnical systems in the service of justice and the public good. This even might result in a better relationship with the client and more successful projects.
Establishing policy guidelines and ethical principles for municipal digitization requires a critical municipal council and an ethics committee with relevant expertise. But it also needs professionals who carry out the assignment and enter the debate if necessary.
The link below opens a preliminary overview of the already published and upcoming articles in the series Building sustainable cities: the contribution of digital technology. Click HERE for the Dutch version.
As in the rest of the Netherlands, the number of electric cars (EVs) at Schiphol will only increase in the coming years. Whereas Royal Schiphol Group currently has 400 EV charge points, we expect to grow rapidly towards 10,000 charge points over the next few years. We cannot achieve this growth alone. That is why we are looking for a partner who can help us manage this growth with smart technology. Can you help us? Check the link below to the tender on Negometrix
Six weeks ago, I started a new weekly series answering the question how digitization can contribute to the development of better cities and their surroundings. Technology alone cannot reach this goal. Far-reaching social and economic reforms are needed, also to ensure that the benefits of digitization are shared by everyone.
Below you will find links to the articles published until now:
Part A: Digital technology as a challenge
Part B: Digital instruments and ethics
13. Amsterdam benchmarked
14. ‘Agenda stad’ and digital instruments
Part C: Applications
15. Artificial intelligence abused
16. Government: services and participation
18. Circular economy: Construction
19. Circular economy: Waste
21. Energy transition
23. Smart cities from scratch
Links to the Dutch versions, you will find below:
The seventh edition of the series Better cities. The contribution of digital technology is about forecasts, trends and signals regarding the role of technology in the development of cities, as seen by Cornell University's Future of Urban Tech-project. The Dutch versions of this and other already published posts are here.
A source of new insights
Technology has changed the planet for better and for worse. Will this change continue, and which direction will dominate? To answer this question, scientists at the Jacobs Institute at Cornell University in New York developed a horizon scan, named The Future of Urban Tech. At first, they made a content analysis of hundreds of recent scientific publications, from which they distilled 217 signals. These signals were grouped into 49 trends, full of contradictions. Each trend is tagged with an indication of time frame, probability, and societal impact. In the end, they modeled six forecasts. These describe dominant directions for change.
Readers can use the site in their own way. I started from the 17 sectors such as built environment, logistics, mobility, and energy and explored the related trends. It is also possible to start top-down with one of the six forecasts and examine its plausibility considering the related trends and signals. I will show below that each of the forecasts is challenging and invites further reading.
Content selection is supported by dynamic graphics, which connect all signals, trends and forecasts and enable the reader to see their interrelationships. Just start scrolling, unleash your curiosity and decide after some explorations how to proceed more systematically.
The website briefly describes each of the forecasts, trends, and signals. Each signal reflects the content of a handful of (popular) scientific publications, which are briefly summarized. Read the articles that intrigue you or limit yourself to the summary.
Take the time to explore this site as you will encounter many new insights and opinions. The link to the project is at the end of this article.
Below I will explain some aspects of the content of the project, followed by some caveats.
The forecasts reflect the multiplicity of views in contemporary scientific literature, stimulating readers to form a judgment. The wording of the forecasts is reproduced in abbreviated form below.
1. All buildings, houses, means of transport, infrastructure, but also trees and parks will be connected with sensors and cameras and form one web.
Many buildings, buses, trains, and roads are already equipped with digital detection, but they are not linked yet up at city scale. The next decade will change this, which will, for example, mean a breakthrough in the management of energy flows, but also raise questions regarding privacy.
2. Cities will use advanced biotechnology to take livability to new heights.
Growing understanding of human dependence on nature will lead to mapping the physical-biological world as well as its threats and its blessings to humans. City authorities will equip trees, parks, and waterways with sensors to measure and control the vitality of ecosystems.
3. Resilient corridors will mitigate the impact of climate change, but citizens will be prepared for the inevitable shocks to come.
Cities will reduce CO2 emissions but also prepare for the inevitable consequences of climate change. Political and financial centers of power will be concentrated in places where the impact of climate change can be controlled by technical means.
4. Artificial neural networks provide advanced forms of machine learning with unparalleled predictive capabilities that will bring order to the chaos of urban life.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will become inscrutable black boxes that make decisions without giving explanations. The ultimate questions are whether the machines to which we outsource our decisions can still be controlled themselves and whether the impact of spontaneous encounters and human ideas disappears if computers produce the best solutions after all?
5. New Screen Deal that redistributes the risks and benefits of urban technology.
“Everything remote” – learning, healthcare, work, and entertainment – is becoming the new normal. The predictive power of AI will lead to conflicts over the concentration of wealth and power that digital platforms cause. But on the other hand, new stakeholders will focus on equity.
6. A global supply chain for city-building technologies will 'crack the code of the city'.
In the smart cities-movement there is a tension between top-down and bottom-up, between proprietary versus open and between Big Tech and Makers. A new urban innovation industry will take dominance but will be more attuned to societal concerns. Governments, in turn, will have a clearer picture of the problems that the industry needs to solve. A public-private structure for investments and governance is indispensable to counter the power of Big Tech.
A few notes
As mentioned, each of the six forecasts is based on trends. Nine trends, in the case of the latest forecast mentioned above. Each trend is illustrated by a handful of signals, documented by various publications. One of the nine trends supporting the latter forecast is “Regional clustering from enterprises to ecosystems”, for example New York, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. This refers to the growing power of local technology hubs, supported by regional capital and involving governments, start-ups, knowledge institutions and citizens. This concentration could even lead to a new “space race” between cities instead of countries. However, the underlying signals show that this "trend" is more open-ended and uncertain than its description warrants.
I went through many publications documenting the signals and concluded that "trends" essentially map the bandwidth within developments within a domain will occur. To me, this does not detract from the value of the exercise, because the more doubts there are about the future and the more insights we have into the forces that shape it, the more opportunities we have to influence the future.
As the six forecasts must match the open nature of the trends, I have reformulated each of these forecasts as pairs of conflicting directions for development.
1. The commercial or political interests behind urban technology versus the well-being and privacy of citizens.
2. The struggle between 'Big Tech' versus (supra)national political over leadership over technological development.
3. The infusion of technology into all domains of society versus acceptance of unpredictable outcomes of human interactions resulting from creativity, inner motives, and intuitive decisions.
4. Controlling nature through biotechnology versus restoring a balance between humans and natural ecosystems.
5. The concentration of power, political influence, and wealth through control over technology versus open licensing that allows technology to be used for the benefit of the entire world population.
6. Autonomous decision-making through machine learning and artificial intelligence versus the primacy of democratic and decentralized decision-making over the application of technology.
Studying the Future of Urban Tech-project has been a rich and thought-provoking learning experience and has helped fueling the insights underlying this series.
You can find the Future of Urban Tech project behind the link below:
Hi dear friends,
I am interested in doing research or collaboration in projects focus on age-friendly city and smart city. An important coincidence for these fields is Gerontechnology (Gerontology + Technology). Developing mobility apps to facilitate the transportation and mobility of elders is an example of Gerontechnology. This can promote the active aging of elders in our neighborhoods and help them to do most of their outdoor activities independently. Please feel free to contact me (email@example.com) if you think I can contribute to your company/ projects.
What advice would you give to mayors of cities worldwide? In the first season of the Mayor's Manual Podcast, Sacha Stolp (Director of Future-Proof Assets, City of Amsterdam) and Kenneth Heijns (Managing Director of AMS Institute) have embarked on a journey to discuss solutions for urban challanges together with over 50 frontrunners from different countries working for governmental institutions, knowledge institutions and businesses. Each frontrunner was asked what advice they would give to Mayors and cities worldwide. The Mayor’s Manual Book Edition is a compilation of these advices accompanied by 6 Essays written by guest writers. The book is meant not only to inspire, but also to provide actionable recommendations for cities globally.
We invite you to read the first Mayor’s Manual Book and share
your insights with us!
Download the book for free on our website or by clicking here.
Currently, we are working on a Dutch edition so keep an eye on our site
Demodays are part of our innovation process and intended to boost the progress of the various innovation projects, put requests for help on the table, share dilemmas and involve others in your projects or challenges. We host them every 8-10 weeks.
Invitations are sent but we're always open to adding a few new names to the list.
During Demo days, community members pitch projects and ask for input. In small groups we work on concrete questions. All in a very positive, open and cheerful vibe.
This time on the agenda:
- Responsible Sensing Lab & Responsible Drones
- Public Eye / Shuttercam
- Pilot Regenerative Braking
- Social functions of neighbourhood hubs
- ArenApoort LIFE
- What Design Can Do
Want to join? Have a question? Let’s hear it in the comments!
Ronald Smallenburg is co-founder of Pontiflex, a start-up which designs modular bridges out of sustainable materials.
“My business partner Joris Vermeulen and I started Pontiflex a few years ago. A key motivator was the state of the Nescio Bridge for bicycles spanning the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal between the Amsterdam suburb of IJburg and the city itself. This €15 million bridge opened in 2006, but only a few years later, its steel started to rust. It served as an inspiration to start thinking about designing more sustainable bridges on a competitive budget.
Joris asked me to join him in searching for solutions. We discovered there is a huge market for bridges and other infrastructure. A major portion of the post-WW2, so-called ‘boomer infrastructure’ in the Netherlands is at the end of its lifetime—just as it is in most Western countries. It needs to be replaced, repaired or refurbished as well as expanded, especially given the growth in cycling seen everywhere in the Western world. At the same time, society requires more sustainability. We saw excellent business opportunities.”
“At Pontiflex, we believe we all need to find alternatives to classic steel and concrete, the building sector’s key materials. Their production is one of the most polluting processes in terms of CO2 emissions. That’s why we started to look for sustainable alternatives to use in new construction. They include FSC-certified wood, a revolutionary bio-composite, recycled plastics and cementless concrete made from old asphalt and industrial waste. Over the years, we were granted a total of four subsidies to finance our search for the best sustainable materials to use in new bridge construction.
Our answer to modern-day challenges is to double sustainability. Our modular bridges combine easy-to-build-and-adapt bridges with circular materials. Every element of our bridges can be replaced or reused at any time, independent of each other. This means that we can quickly build a bridge, or disassemble and move it if necessary, or adapt to new conditions, including length and width.”
“Developing sustainable infrastructure is challenging given the conservatism in the sector. I believe that the public sector and the industry need vision and boldness. Vision for a sustainable infrastructure, boldness in daring to design and implement new constructions and materials, either as a public client or as an architect, engineer or contractor. Calculated risks are the key words here. Do your research and test thoroughly, but dare to be different and accept your losses or approve your gains.”
New generation of infrastructure
“We participate in GO!-NH, an innovation program of the province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands. With programs such as these, we expand our network and learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs. I’m still new to Amsterdam Smart City, but I’m open to new connections. I’m also happy to share my entrepreneurial experience in the field of sustainability.
The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, and the Netherlands in general, offers a lot of creativity. Here, there are many people with different backgrounds and ideas. The construction industry will benefit greatly if we tap into this diversity—not only because we need more technicians, but because we also need people who think differently. Women, migrants and refugees can provide the industry with new input and new creativity, which is crucial for a new generation of infrastructure.”
If you’d like to get in touch with Ronald, you can find himon this platform.
This interview is part of the series 'Meet the Members of Amsterdam Smart City'. In the next weeks we will introduce more members of this community to you. Would you like show up in the series? Drop us a message!
Interview and article by Mirjam Streefkerk
Over the past 1.5 years, CityFlows partners have worked on improving liveability of crowded pedestrian spaces by developing and testing the use of a Crowd Monitoring Decision Support Systems (CM-DSS) in different settings.
As the project nears competition, this final online workshop will share and validate the results and lessons learned from living labs in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Milan. The workshop will also present a selection of international best practices for crowd-management collected through the CityFlows Educational Package open call.
Draft Agenda -- Speakers will be announced soon!
• Welcome & introductions
• Overview to CityFlows project
• Short keynote on responsible crowd-management innovations
• Presentation of results and lessons learned from CityFlows Living Labs
• Q&A with audience
• Final reflections & wrap-up
Crowd-management researchers and practitioners are encouraged to join the event and reflect on the findings from the project.
To join this webinar, please register in advance via:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
For more information about the CityFlows project visit: https://cityflows-project.eu/
In de Johan Cruijff ArenA vond onlangs de kick-off plaats van Wat Mensen Beweegt, een nieuw onderzoeksproject gericht op duurzame mobiliteit in het Amsterdamse ArenA-gebied.
De Hogeschool van Amsterdam en NEMO Kennislink onderzoeken in samenwerking met eventlocaties ArenA, Ziggo Dome en AFAS Live wat ervoor nodig is om bezoekers te stimuleren duurzamere reiskeuzes te maken.
Vaak gaat het bij dit soort vraagstukken over technische of infrastructurele uitdagingen want die zijn van groot belang. Het gedrag van de individuele reiziger speelt vaak net zo’n belangrijke rol. Daarom richt dit project zich op de belevingswereld van bezoekers. Wat beweegt hen om te kiezen voor de auto, trein of ander vervoer? Hoe kunnen door inzicht te krijgen in de rol van emoties en gedrag betrokken organisaties zoals de ArenA worden geholpen bij het faciliteren van een duurzamer reisgedrag? En hoe kunnen we zorgen dat de bezoeker daar zelf actief aan bijdraagt?
Dit project doet hiervoor een eerste exploratieve verkenning. Resultaten worden in het voorjaar van 2022 getoetst op mogelijkheden om de aanpak die is ontwikkeld verder op te schalen.
Dit project is een unieke samenwerking tussen de Hogeschool van Amsterdam (Lectoraat Creative Media for Social Change) die creatieve methoden inbrengt en het wetenschapjournalistieke platform NEMO Kennislink dat werkt via constructieve journalistieke methoden. Naast de eventlocaties wordt nauw samengewerkt met het Platform Smart Mobility Amsterdam, ZO Bereikbaar en het Amsterdam Smart City netwerk.
Wil je meer weten, neem dan contact op met:
Johan Cruijff ArenA
Maurits van Hövell, Consultant Mobility and Environment, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hogeschool van Amsterdam
Tamara Witschge Lector Creative Media for Social Change, email@example.com
Giovanni Stijnen, sr. program & business development, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leon Heuts, Hoofdredacteur, email@example.com
The 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is an initiative of the European Commission (EC) supporting municipalities in adopting new technologies to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and rebuild their economies while steering them in the direction of green, smart and sustainable growth. The focus is on supporting mid-size and smaller municipalities with improving the quality of life for citizens and business competitiveness.
Throughout the 2.5 year challenge, a series of five City Labs bring together ICC cities and stakeholders with the following objectives:
1. Inspire with state-of-the-art re-thinking of the city of the future and its role amidst new climate change and digital growth ambitions;
2. Peer-to-peer review of ICC core cities’ implementation plans;
3. Present initiatives which entered the phase of implementation and exchange of views on maximising impact;
4. Provide opportunities to explore the possibility of collaboration between cities with an interest in developing joint solutions;
5. Allow the exchange of knowledge between city teams during interactive thematic sessions;
6. Provide transversal support on access to finance, public procurement, and open data.
The 4th ICC City lab will kick off on November 30th with public sessions on up-skilling-and re-skilling open both to the ICC community and external participants.
As ICC mentor, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region, will contribute to a Thematic Workshop on Green Economy and Local Green Deals on Wednesday, December 1st. During the workshop, Yolanda Schmal, policy advisor at the Province of North Holland will share best practices and current initiatives for accelerating the circular economy on a regional scale, with focus on plastics.
The full program and registration is available via: https://www.intelligentcitieschallenge.eu/events/4th-icc-city-lab