Sophie van der Ploeg


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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Smart City tips for an innovative summer in Amsterdam

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Whether you’re a visitor exploring Amsterdam, or a local opting for a staycation this summer, boredom is not on the agenda. There are some great things to do and see if you’re interested in innovation and sustainability. Delve into my curated list of smart city summer tips with exhibitions, activities and experiences from our partners and community. Zigzag across the city and discover the city from a different perspective!

1. Discover the city as a living place at the Landscape festival: ‘Met andere ogen’ (with other eyes)
Nature is a source of beauty and comfort, of relaxation and well-being, but it is now also in crisis. Diversity is declining and habitats are disappearing. In the ecological recovery lying ahead, the city plays a remarkable role: not only as a hotspot for biodiversity, but also as a meeting place where we can forge links between human and other life. Waag Futurelab invites you to set your sights on the Amsterdam Science Park and discover the city as a living place, together with artists, local residents and scientists. Take a walk along the walking route across the Amsterdam Science Park past all the installations and interventions.

From June until September 2023. Pick up a map at Café-Restaurant Polder (address: Science Park 201). Costs: free.

2. Take an architectural summer walk through new city areas
Arcam, the centre for architecture in Amsterdam, organises a series of architectural walks through neighbourhoods in development: Houthaven, Sloterdijk, Zuidas, Centrumeiland and Elzenhagen-Zuid. On Sundays from June to September, you can join a summer walk, led by an enthusiastic city expert, to visit and learn more about newly (to be) transformed areas of Amsterdam.

Every Sunday (from June to September) from different pick-up points. Costs: € 15,00 per person.

3. Fix your broken stuff at Repair Café Oud Noord
Give your broken belongings a second chance at the Repair Café in De Ceuvel (Metabolic Lab). Whether it's electronics, textiles, furniture, or bikes, the dedicated team at the Repair Café is there to assist with even the most challenging repairs. Join this community-driven initiative on the first Wednesday of each month! While the repairs are free, donations for used materials are warmly appreciated.

Every first Wednesday of the month (next up August 2, from 18:00-20:00) at De Ceuvel, Metabolic Lab. Costs: Free.

4. Green up your city with the NK Tegelwippen (‘National Tile Removal Championship’)
In the Netherlands, it's common to see apartment buildings, offices, and homes surrounded by tiles. This might be low-maintenance, but they're not particularly beautiful and do absolutely nothing to help the environment. We’re increasingly facing problems such as heat stress and flooding, and all those stone tiles in urbanised areas do not cool down on a hot day or let water through when it rains. Join the National Tile Removal Championship this summer! Remove tiles (for example in your garden) and replace them with plants and flowers for a greener city.

From March 21st till October 31st, more information via the website of NK Tegelwippen.

5. Learn more about our energy addition at the Energy Junkies exhibition
Our dependence on fossil fuels and the effects of our energy consumption on climate change are the focus of NEMO’s new exhibition for adults: Energy Junkies. NEMO invites you to explore the decisions that will determine our future. How would you transform our energy addiction into a healthy habit? Create your own carbon diet, choose the right medicines from the climate pharmacy and dream about a world where we are cured of our energy addiction. Visit Energy Junkies at NEMO’s Studio, the off-site location for adults on the Marineterrein in Amsterdam.
Energy Junkies is open from Wednesday – Sunday, from 12:00 – 17:30 until October 29.  Costs: € 7,50

6. Visit the Maker Market
Meet passionate and innovative makers from all over the world at The Maker Market! Here you will find handmade products produced with love and craftsmanship. The event focuses on sustainable production processes and Fair Trade. Engage with the makers, hear their stories, and witness their creative processes. This way, you can discover products with a good story.

On Saturday July 28 (11:00-17:00), Sunday July 28 (12:00-17:00), Saturday August 26 (11:00-17:00) and Sunday August 27 (12:00-17:00) at the Passage. Costs: Free.

7. Book a tour at Mediametic
Get a glimpse behind the scenes at Mediametic! During their weekly tour on Friday, you’ll get the chance to peek inside their labs, in which they explore the possibilities of bio-materials for design, science and art. You’ll also visit the Clean lab, where Mediametic is currently focusing on the use of waste materials, as a source for new material. You get an introduction in the Aroma lab, their open perfume workshop and scent library where scent is explored as an artistic medium. And you will get to see the Plant lab, where herbs and edible flowers are grown for the restaurant in a sustainable way.

On Friday’s at 16:00, Mediametic. Costs: € 4,50 incl. a drink.

8. Keep your head cool! At Waag Open
It's getting hot in here! Since 1923, the KNMI (The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) measured 28 heat waves and almost half them occurred in the past 20 years. If this trend continues, the number of 'tropical' days (days above 30 degrees) will have doubled by 2050. But what are the consequences of these heat waves in people's homes? In countless Dutch (rental) homes, bedrooms heat up considerably in summer. And that can lead to physical and mental complaints: heat stress. During Waag Open: Keep your head cool, Lisanne Corpel (researcher at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam) shares her knowledge on measuring heat and the phenomenon of heat stress.

Thursday August 3 from 19:30-21:30 at Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4. Costs: € 7,50 incl. a drink.
As you explore these smart city summer tips in Amsterdam, let the innovative initiatives inspire you to make positive changes in your own life. Be sure to check out our platform for more exciting events and experiences. Do you have any other tips for inspiring smart city activities not to be missed this summer? Share them with the community in the comments!

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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Demoday #20: ChatGPT and the Government: Opportunities and challenges

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Are language processing tools powered by AI, such as ChatGPT, revolutionising the way we work and live together? How should governments, such as the province of North Holland, deal with this? What is the impact as the technology behind ChatGPT evolves and is used more and more prominently, outside and within their own organisations? Is it an efficient way to communicate with citizens, write policy documents, or answer state questions? Or should we avoid or discourage the use of ChatGPT for governments? During Demo Day #20, we explored the possibilities and potential impact of ChatGPT on the work of governments. We will discuss not only the technology itself, but especially the ethical aspects involved. How can officials be included in the responsible use of this technology?

Case & Set-up of the Session

After an introduction of the question by the Jeroen Silvis and Martijn Veerman from the province of North-Holland, the participants first identified opportunities and threats when using ChatGPT for a concrete case study: writing a housing vision for the region using ChatGPT. The opportunities and threats were identified from perspectives: political administrators, civil servants working for the province and municipality, citizens and housing developers and associations. After this round of identifying opportunities & threats, the participants discussed some important factors the province of North Holland should keep in mind when developing a framework for the use of ChatGPT.


Opportunities for political administrators, civil servants working for the province and municipality, citizens and housing developers:

  • Make civil service more efficient and effective; compose and read policy documents;

  • Civil servants working for the province can save a lot of time as ChatGPT makes it easier to write large policy document; it can also serve as a source for creativity and inspiration;

  • ChatGPT could be beneficial for civil servants working for municipalities, as ChatGPT might help simplify complicated documents;

  • Citizens benefit as complicated plans become more readable and accessible through the use of ChatGPT;

  • ChatGPT could help broaden visions for area development and housing (in this specific case) which is beneficial to housing developers.

Threats for political administrators, civil servants working for the province and municipality, citizens and housing developers:

  • Through using ChatGPT, internal and privacy-sensitive information will be in hands of big tech multinationals, which is a big risk for political administrators; dependence on AI might lead to a loss of autonomy;

  • Using ChatGPT for writing policies might lead to tunnel vision for civil servants working for the province; Does the policy fully reflect the vision of the civil servant when using ChatGPT?;

  • ChatGPT makes use of existing content, which may lead to less innovation. This is a risk for civil servants working for the municipality as they have to execute the policy;

  • Citizens might worry about their privacy, as ChatGPT is owned by a big tech multinational;

  • ChatGPT might simplify housing visions whilst the realisation of housing is a complex issue, this is a threat for housing developers.

After identifying the opportunities & threats, the participants discussed what the province of North Holland should keep in mind for the development of a ChatGPT framework for internal use. Some remarks from the group:

  • Always remain critical and check everything, make sure to identify your sources;

  • Pay attention to public values and explore open-source language model alternatives that are more responsible and open source. Be aware of the influence of big tech;

  • Provide clear frameworks and instructions for the use of ChatGPT or a similar tool;

  • Make clear rules about who is responsible;

  • Knowledge and experience is also within people, not everything is public or published and thus accessible for ChatGPT;

  • Learn to ask the right questions: what is the input for ChatGPT? Educate your colleagues about the use, the do’s and don’ts;

  • Hire ChatGPT expert(s) and organise internal strategy sessions;

  • Be transparent about the use of ChatGPT within the government;

  • Choose for one tool, preferably open-source, that can be used organisation-wide.

Conclusion and Next Steps?

It is clear that the technology around AI powered language models is developing very quickly. As colleagues of the province of North Holland are already using ChatGPT, it is important to develop a framework for internal use. Jeroen and Martijn from the province of North Holland will use the concrete input from this session and work on plan/framework the coming months. It is unclear whether this question will have next step within the Amsterdam Smart City network, but a valuable connection has been made between the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam and the province of North Holland. Do you have any input for Jeroen and Martijn about this topic? Please contact me via, or leave a comment below.

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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Demoday #20: Knowledge session ‘Power in Transitions’

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When working together on transitions, it is important to be aware of and sensitive to the impact of power and systemic oppression in participatory processes. Within the Amsterdam Smart City network, the question of inclusion and civic participation, is often brought up in worksessions and discussions. However, we often lack the tools to find the bottlenecks and really include all important beneficiaries.

Therefore, we asked our valued partners Kennisland and DRIFT to lead a workshop about Power in Transitions at Demoday #20 on May 16. Dave van Loon and Faduma Mukhtar (Kennisland) together with Aron Teunissen (DRIFT) taught the participants more about power in transitions, based on the Power Literacy Framework and Field Guide from Kennisland. This guide describes five different forms of power and offers a set of tools for professionals to become more aware of power dynamics in their work.

The five forms of power

According to the Power Literacy Guide by Kennisland, there are five forms of power in design process. If you want to learn more about this, you can download the Power Literacy guide here. The five forms of power are:

Privilege: The type of power you get from a social relation whereby you benefit due to the social group you belong to, at the expense of another social group. It is an unearned advantage and often invisible to those who have it.

Access power: The ability to influence who is included in and excluded from the design project and process.

Goal power: The ability to initiate the design project to begin with, as well as the ability to influence decisions related to framing the problem, goals, and structure of the design process.

Role power: The ability to influence the roles that different stakeholders take on. This includes the ability to assign any roles or titles in the design process, as well as influencing the role each stakeholder plays in making decisions.

Rule power: The ability to influence the way that those in the design process will work together. It includes the ability to influence what is considered normal, what is allowed and what isn’t, how actors will communicate with each other, what language is used, and beliefs about what types of knowledge are valid.

Power check

After a theoretical introduction of the five forms of power, we split into smaller groups to perform a so-called power check for different Amsterdam Smart City projects, such as the Mobility Challenge and “Wat mensen beweegt”. Using this power check, the participants looked at access power and goal power. We identified all actors affected by the project and indicated which actors were not involved. The different actors were then assigned a role in different stages of the process: listener, co-creator, advisor, partner or director.

Most important take-aways

The goal of this exercise was to create more awareness about involving target groups in different stages of the project. The main take-aways were:

  • The role for the for the ‘benefit group’, the people that are impacted by the project, is often too small. If beneficiaries are involved, this often happens in the last stages of the project. In this phase in the project, it is often more difficult or not possible at all to influence decision-making;

  • To create equal power, some parties have to ‘give away’ (some of) their power;

  • Truly inclusive work takes time, effort and money. It is not something takes place overnight;

  • Awareness is half of the battle: make the topic of systemic oppression in participatory process a structural part of your (work)process).

Want to learn more about power in transitions? Read more.

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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Transition Day 2023: Digital identity and implementing new electronic identification methods

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The Digital Government Act (Wet Digitale Overheid) aims to improve digital government services while ensuring citizens' privacy. An important part of this law is safe and secure logging in to the government using new electronic identification methods (eIDs) such as Yivi (formerly IRMA). The municipality of Amsterdam recently started a pilot with Yivi. Amsterdam residents can now log in to “Mijn Amsterdam” to track the status of complaints about public area’s. But how do you get this innovation, which really requires a different way of thinking, implemented?

Using the Change Curve to categorise barriers

At the Transition day (June 2023), Mike Alders (municipality of Amsterdam) invited the Amsterdam Smart City network to help identify the barriers and possible interventions, and explore opportunities for regional cooperation. Led by Coen Smit from Royal HaskoningDHV, the participants identified barriers in implementing this new technology from an organisational and civil society perspective. After that, the participants placed these barriers on a Change Curve, a powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition and organization stage. Using the Change Curve, we wanted to give Mike some concrete guidance on where to focus his interventions on within the organisation. The barriers were categorised in four phases:

  1. Awareness: associated with anxiety and denial;
  2. Desire: associated with emotion and fear;
  3. Knowledge & ability: associated with acceptance, realisation and energy;
  4. Reinforcement: associated with growth.

Insights and next steps

In the case of digital identity and the implementation of eID’s, such as Yivi, it appears that most of the barriers are related to the first phase of awareness. Think of: little knowledge about digital identity and current privacy risks, and a lack of trust in a new technology. Communication is crucial to overcome barriers in the awareness. To the user, but also internally to employees and the management. Directors often also know too little about the topic of digital identity.

By looking at the different phases in the change process, we have become aware of the obstacles and thought about possible solutions. But we are still a long way from full implementation and acceptance of this new innovation. For that, we need different perspectives from business, governments and knowledge institutions. This way, we can start creating more awareness about digital transformations and identity in general, which will most likely lead to wishes for more privacy-friendly and easier way of identifying online. Besides focusing on creating more awareness about our digital identity, another possible next step is to organise a more in-depth session (deepdive) with all governmental organisations in the Amsterdam Smart City network.

Do you have any tips or questions in relation to Mike’s project about Digital Identity and electronic Identification? Please get in touch with me through or leave a comment below.

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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Demoday #19: CommuniCity worksession

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Without a doubt, our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on new technologies. However, we are also becoming increasingly aware that not everyone benefits equally from the opportunities and possibilities of digitization. Technology is often developed for the masses, leaving more vulnerable groups behind. Through the European-funded CommuniCity project, the municipality of Amsterdam aims to support the development of digital solutions for all by connecting tech organisations to the needs of vulnerable communities. The project will develop a citizen-centred co-creation and co-learning process supporting the cities of Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Porto in launching 100 tech pilots addressing the needs of their communities.

Besides the open call for tech-for-good pilots, the municipality of Amsterdam is also looking for a more structural process for matching the needs of citizens to solutions of tech providers. During this work session, Neeltje Pavicic (municipality of Amsterdam) invited the Amsterdam Smart City network to explore current bottlenecks and potential solutions and next steps.

Process & questions

Neeltje introduced the project using two examples of technology developed specifically for marginalised communities: the Be My Eyes app connects people needing sighted support with volunteers giving virtual assistance through a live video call, and the FLOo Robot supports parents with mild intellectual disabilities by stimulating the interaction between parents and the child.

The diversity of the Amsterdam Smart City network was reflected in the CommuniCity worksession, with participants from governments, businesses and knowledge institutions. Neeltje was curious to the perspectives of the public and private sector, which is why the group was separated based on this criteria. First, the participants identified the bottlenecks: what problems do we face when developing tech solutions for and with marginalised communities? After that, we looked at the potential solutions and the next steps.

Bottlenecks for developing tech for vulnerable communities

The group with companies agreed that technology itself can do a lot, but that it is often difficult to know what is already developed in terms of tech-for-good. Going from a pilot or concept to a concrete realization is often difficult due to the stakeholder landscape and siloed institutions. One of the main bottlenecks is that there is no clear incentive for commercial parties to focus on vulnerable groups. Another bottleneck is that we need to focus on awareness; technology often targets the masses and not marginalized groups who need to be better involved in the design of solutions.

In the group with public organisations, participants discussed that the needs of marginalised communities should be very clear. We should stay away from formulating these needs for people. Therefore, it’s important that civic society organisations identify issues and needs with the target groups, and collaborate with tech-parties that can deliver solutions. Another bottleneck is that there is not enough capital from public partners. There are already many pilots, but scaling up is often difficult.. Therefore solutions should have a business, or a value-case.

Potential next steps

What could be the next steps? The participants indicated that there are already a lot of tech-driven projects and initiatives developed to support vulnerable groups. A key challenge is that these initiatives are fragmented and remain small-scale because there is insufficient sharing and learning between them. A better overview of what is already happening is needed to avoid re-inviting the wheel. There are already several platforms to share these types of initiatives but they do not seem to meet the needs in terms of making visible tested solutions with most potential for upscaling. Participants also suggested hosting knowledge sessions to present examples and lessons-learned from tech-for-good solutions, and train developers to make technology accessible from the start. Legislation can also play a role: by law, technology must meet accessibility requirements and such laws can be extended to protect vulnerable groups. Participants agreed that public authorities and commercial parties should engage in more conversation about this topic.

In response to the worksession, Neeltje mentioned that she gained interesting insights from different angles. She was happy that so many participants showed interest in this topic and decided to join the session. In the coming weeks, Neeltje will organise a few follow-up sessions with different stakeholders. Do you have any input for her? You can contact me via, and I'll connect you to Neeltje.

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Sophie van der Ploeg, Community Manager & Program Lead Digital at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Responsible digitalisation challenge: How to make digital systems more human-centric?

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Technological and innovative developments are moving faster than ever before. As a government, you want and need to keep up with these developments. At the same time, the use of digitalisation and data often leads to undesired results, increasing the distance between citizens/entrepreneurs and the government.

The municipality of Haarlemmermeer is shifting her focus from 'the system is central, people have to become more digitally savvy to 'people are central, our systems have to become human-centric’. The underlying question is: how do you really put people at the centre of digitalisation and the design of digital systems?

Do you want to know more or contribute to this challenge? Contact me via or let me know via the comments below.

Project’s current phase

Jeroen Brink and Christine Groothuis from the municipality of Haarlemmermeer introduced this challenge to the Amsterdam Smart City network on the 7th of November, 2022. During a co-creation session, we discussed that there are two main elements of this complex challenge that we would like to focus on. On the one hand, we’re talking about a radical and fundamental shift. A different way of thinking within governmental institutions. This shift requires a more philosophical and substantive conversation about how we would like our digital public space and systems to look like. But on the other hand, we want to think big but also start small. Therefore, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer would like to embrace a real-life case to bring human-centred digital systems to life.

On the 1st of December, we organised a follow-up session with Amsterdam Smart City partners. During this session, Max Kortlander (Waag) presented the Public Stack. This project puts the public value at the centre to create open, democratic and sustainable digital public spaces. Following this introduction, we did a futures-thinking exercise led by Sacha van Tongeren (Kennisland), to think about how we want the digital public space to look like in the future. And additionally, we used empathy maps to synthesize our collective knowledge about our audience, which brought us closer to a common understanding of who they are.

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