Sophie van der Ploeg


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

Data Dilemma’s Recap: Fair data sharing with Amsterdam Data Exchange (AMdEX)

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Data Dilemmas is a collaboration between Amsterdam Smart City and the City of Amsterdam’s Data Lab. During Data Dilemmas, we explore the possibilities for using data and new technologies to address urban and societal challenges, with a focus on responsible digitalization. The goal is to use data to make cities more safe, clean and accessible. But what happens to all the data that is collected? Which dilemmas do we encounter when we collect (personal) data to improve the city? These questions are important for everyone: governments, knowledge institutions, companies, and civil society. In the latest edition of Data Dilemmas, hosted on the 29th of September 2022, we invited Joep Meindertsma, Tom van Arman and Jan van Boesschoeten to take us through the experiences, dilemmas and lessons learned from the Amsterdam Data Exchange (AMdEX) initiative. Marit Hoefsloot from Waag gave a critical reflection on the presented Data Dilemmas.

Joep Meindertsma (Dexes) – Introduction to AMdEX
AMdEX is a collaboration between the Amsterdam Economic Board, AMS-IX, Dexes, the University of Amsterdam and Surf. AMdEX aims to give people more control over their data through a secure, trusted and neutral infrastructure which enables sharing data under specific conditions. AMdEX has two missions: give people more control over their data and make it more attractive to share data. These two missions are a data dilemma in itself.

Data exchange is currently monopolized by a handful of major players and the web is more centralized than ever before. The direct connections between people and organisations have become fewer. This is because we’re increasingly using middle-men, services between the data source and the user. Joep explains: “If you want to see someone’s vacation photos, you have to send a request to Facebook. Facebook owns the data, decides who can access it and dictates what the app looks like”. This problem is not limited to vacation photos or Facebook. It is about all our data. Almost all services are middle-men, with its own closed way of data sharing. This creates data silos – places where data is effectively locked away.

Joep refers to three types of data: “data we want to share, data we don’t want to share, and data we might want to share.” This ‘might share’ category often contains valuable data, but it can be costly or difficult to share. Set conditions makes sharing this data easier. AMdEX makes this possible through a few software projects they’re currently building: eFlint (a new language to describe legal constructs), DexPod (an open source personal data server) and Atomic Data (a specification and open source software to improve data interoperability).

Tom van Arman (Tapp) - AMdEX case study: Marineterrein Sensor Data
Meanwhile, the Marineterrein in Amsterdam is full of sensors, collecting all kinds of data. Think of MicroLAN measuring the water quality, or Public Eye collecting crowd data. Marineterrein is a ‘living lab’, where technologies that contribute to a sustainable and future-proof city can be tested. Together with AMdEX, Tom looked at how the collected data can be made accessible to third parties, such as researchers, journalists, students, artists and entrepreneurs. The Marineterrein and the data collectors, for example Public Eye, set conditions for the data to be used. Tom describes how this works in practice: “If a journalist is interested in using crowd data collected by Public Eye, they must be a member of the Marineterrein community and subscribed to AMdEX. If the journalists meets these requirements, they will receive an AMdEX email with a data download link.”

Jan van Boesschoeten (AMS-IX) - The Future of AMdEX
As Joep and Tom already mentioned, there are many questions around data: who owns the data, what are you allowed to do with it? How do you work together with your competitors to get more value out of your data? A data exchange can be a solution to these questions. This is why AMS-IX, a neutral member-based association that operates multiple interconnection platforms, is connected to AMdEX. Jan shortly describes the future of the AMdEX initiative. The field lab with use cases ends in June 2023, and at that time AMdEX also aims to be a legal entity. Additionally, one of their use cases involving KLM will be presented at AMS-IX’s MORE-IP community event in June. After that, AMdEX will onboard new use cases.

Marit Hoefsloot (Waag) – A critical reflection on the Dilemmas encountered in AMdEX
Last but not least, Marit Hoefsloot from Waag reflects on the dilemma’s presented by Joep, Tom and Jan. Marit describes that the use of data is often seen as an act of notion, whilst privacy is more of a passive notion (not using the data at all). However, it’s possible to use data whilst also protecting ones privacy. A good example of this is IRMA, a privacy-friendly digital wallet which can be used for authentication. As Marit pleads: “Data usage and privacy are not necessarily contradictory, it is about both.” Organisations should see protecting privacy as their own responsibility, instead of giving the illusion of consent with an opt-in or opt-out option.

The second dilemma Marit reflects on is about developer productivity vs. standardisation. Standardisation takes a lot of time, which takes away from innovation and productivity. However, you need standardisation to develop these kind of exchange platforms, as there are many organisations that are involved. Marit describes that the real questions we should talk about are: what is the flexibility of the standard? Do we create the standard together, or more top-down through legislation? Who are we standardizing for? “We should prioritise standardisation, but do it in an open and inclusive way.”

Would you like to join our next Data Dilemmas at Datalab? The upcoming session is scheduled on the 8th of December (topic and speakers to be announced). Keep an eye out on our platform for the programme!

Photography: Myrthe Polman

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

7 smart city summer tips

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Summer is my favourite season in Amsterdam! There are so many things to do, it’s sometimes hard to choose where to go. To make your lives a bit easier, I curated a list of smart city  exhibitions, activities and experiences from our partners and community. Zigzag across the city and experience the future of the energy systems, water management and food in urban areas. Enjoy!

1. Energy Junkies exhibition  at Nemo The Studio
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 July 2023. Costs are € 7,50

2. Interactive installation Senses of Amsterdam at OBA Slotermeer
The municipality of Amsterdam is using more and more new technologies to make the city more liveable and safe. But what do these sensors actually measure? And what happens with the data they collect? What does this mean for the people of Amsterdam? The installation Senses of Amsterdam informs visitors about how sensors make Amsterdam a smarter city, what measurements are taken and how data is collected. The interactive installation by the Responsible Sensing Lab  is currently exhibited at the public library (OBA) in Slotermeer.
Visit the interactive installation Senses of Amsterdam daily until 25 September 2022.

3. Study excursion about trends and innovations in Amsterdam’s cycling infrastructure
Yes, the Dutch and their bikes are inseparable! And Amsterdam is often cited as the cycling capital of the world. Are you interested in how Amsterdam is innovating in the areas of cycling and urban mobility? Join the study excursion organised by the Urban Cycling Institute and Bicycle User Experience (BUX). The two-hour excursion (by bicycle, of course!) brings you to key  locations exemplifying Amsterdam’s innovative approach to cycling infrastructure and policy. You will meet internationally-oriented cycling experts and become part of a larger network of  the Urban Cycling Institute and Bicycle User Experience (BUX).
The study excursions take place on Saturdays, August 13, 20 and 27 from 16:00 – 18:00. Costs are € 50,00 per person.

4. Exhibition Fluid Matter in the Architecture Centre of Amsterdam (ARCAM)
The Amsterdam water system regulates water levels and quality in one of Europe’s  most densely populated areas. Due to the urban growth and climate change, the system will be increasingly strained in the future. This means that different design choices have to be made, but this situation also offers opportunities for new ways of dealing with water. What choices do we have? How can we design with the water? In the interactive exhibition Fluid Matter, you will discover this complex water system through scale models of four urban districts of Amsterdam: Houthavens/Haven-Stad, North/Schoonschip, City Centre/Kattenburg and IJburg/IJmeer.

Visit the Exhibition Fluid Matter from Tuesday – Sunday (13:00-17:00) until November 2022. Costs are € 4,00.

5. Johan Cruijff ArenA Innovation Tour
Take a tour into the world of innovations at the Johan Cruijff ArenA!  With thousands of visitors during large events, the home of Ajax becomes a small smart city. Already recognized as one of the most sustainable stadiums in the world, the Johan Cruijff ArenA is also one of Amsterdam’s premier living labs for energy, mobility, security, and visitor experience innovations.  The Johan Cruijff ArenA offers private tours showcasing innovative approaches and solutions for the stadium of tomorrow, ideal for team building events and (inter)national delegation visits.

The Johan Cruijff ArenA’s Innovation Tours last ~45minutes and can be booked by sending a request to with “Innovation Tour” in the subject line. Costs are €24,38 excl. VAT per person, with minimum of 20 persons per group.

6. Floriade Expo 2022, Almere      
Once every ten years, all the horticultural greats gather during the Floriade. Experts from all over the world come together to present green solutions that make our cities more enjoyable, beautiful and sustainable. With the theme of ‘Growing Green Cities’, more than 400 national and international participants showcase their latest green innovations, solutions and applications. From state-of-the-art solar roof tiles to amazing vertical façade gardens and from the best ways to grow tomatoes to the latest pruning techniques. You can see, taste and experience it all at Floriade in Almere.

The Floriade ) is open daily until 9 October 2022 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit their website. Costs are € 29,00.

7. Exhibition Makers of Noord by Waag
From large goods to small workshops, makers have always been an important part of Amsterdam Noord. Scattered throughout the district you will find individual makers and collectives, craftsmen and creative entrepreneurs. Their future in the city is under pressure, partly due to gentrification. On the other hand, the city heavily depends on these makers to cope with the energy transition and the enormous demand for housing. The good news is that many makers are still located in Amsterdam, and in particular in Noord. Who are these makers of Noord, what do they make, and how does this contribute to the city, the neighbourhood, and our lives? Get to know different makers from Noord and listen to their inspiring stories about re-use, sustainability and traditional craftsmanship.
The Makers of Noord exhibition can be visited in Museum Amsterdam Noord from Thursday – Sunday from 13:00 – 17:00 until August 27. Costs are €4,00.

Looking for more inspiring smart city events and experiences in and around Amsterdam? You can find them on the events and experiences pages on our platform! So do you have 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

5 belangrijke inzichten uit het Responsible Drones Report

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De inzet van drones in steden is volop in ontwikkeling en kan in de nabije toekomst helpen bij het oplossen van allerlei vraagstukken. Maar naast kansen brengt de technologie ook risico’s met zich mee, zoals schending van privacy en dreigingen op het gebied van veiligheid en cybersecurity. Wat is er nodig om drones verantwoord toe te passen?

Het Responsible Sensing Lab, Amsterdam Drone Lab en Amsterdam Smart City sloegen de handen ineen om deze vraag te beantwoorden middels een reeks kennis- en designsessies in het Responsible Drones project. Het Lab brengt nu een rapport uit vol inzichten en adviezen voor verantwoord dronegebruik. De vijf inzichten die centraal staan:

  1. De gemeente Amsterdam onderzoekt op basis van de 4 vastgestelde rollen (gebruiker, regelgever, faciliteerder en beschermheer) de kansen van zinvolle drone toepassingen in de openbare ruimte.

  2. Voor verantwoord droneverkeer moet de proportionaliteit van de toepassing getoetst worden. Vandaag de dag zijn er nog geen spelregels rondom de maatschappelijke proportionaliteit van drones.

  3. Bewoners en maatschappelijke organisaties moeten bij ontwikkelingen rondom drones sterker worden aangehaakt én aangehaakt blijven. Momenteel vinden projecten rondom de toepassing van drones voornamelijk plaats in de vorm van publiek-private samenwerkingen waarin marktpartijen sterk vertegenwoordigd zijn.

  4. Toekomstscenario’s met drones lijken voor veel mensen nog ver weg en er is over het algemeen weinig kennis over dit onderwerp. Door de complexiteit is de dialoog met burgers over drones een uitdaging.

  5. Drones roepen snel argwaan op bij burgers. Heldere communicatie over drones verhoogt de publieke acceptatie en maakt tegenspraak door burgers mogelijk.

Benieuwd naar de toelichting en bijbehorende adviezen van deze vijf inzichten? Download een korte of lange versie van het rapport op:

Responsible Drones is een samenwerking tussen het Responsible Sensing Lab, Amsterdam Drone Lab, Marineterrein Amsterdam en Amsterdam Smart City.

Afbeelding: © Dutch Drone Delta, Antea Group

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