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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

Roboat introduces full-scale boat ready for autonomous tests on the Amsterdam canals

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What if autonomous boats could relieve Amsterdam's city center of heavy traffic over its vulnerable quays and bridges while making the canals a testbed for innovation?

Roboat – a research project by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) – will provide self-driving solutions on water for different use cases. After successfully implementing full autonomy on the 1:4 and 1:2 scale boats, Roboat now introduces the first full-scale prototype – ready to start piloting real-life use cases.

Can't wait to see what the full-scale design looks like? Check out the video here.

The new 1:1 scale model
Roboat has a unique modular design. The vessel consists of a hull, that forms the technical basis of the boat, designed with different top-decks that can be applied for multiple use cases: transportation of people and garbage collection, as well as stages and bridges when latched together. The full-scale boat measures 2 by 4 meters. “These relatively small dimensions make the boat well suited for the urban environment,” says Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT Senseable City Lab and Principal Investigator in the project.

With four thrusters, the boat can move in all directions, making it agile and responsive to other traffic on the water, but also facilitating precise maneuvering for docking and latching.

“When individual Roboat units are latched, different combinations of floating platforms can be created. In their new configuration they form floating pixels and respond as new autonomous organisms” - Carlo Ratti | Professor at MIT Senseable City Lab & AMS PI

The full-scale Roboat is equipped with an improved perception sensor kit that combines LIDAR (Laser Image Detection and Ranging), GPS, DVL (Doppler Velocity Log) and camera-based object detection which enables the vessel to observe and scan the canals for path-finding and obstacle avoidance. When Roboat encounters an object in the water, the boat determines whether it is stationary or moving and measures the proximity and directionality of the object. The vessel then calculates the best maneuver to avoid the obstacle. After passing the obstacle, Roboat resumes its optimal route.

Pilots and experiments to develop use cases
In the coming months, the full-scale boat will be tested in the waters of Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab – a testbed for innovations and AMS Institute’s home base... Continue the full article here >>

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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

Responsible Sensing Lab

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The City of Amsterdam has many smart technologies in place: from smart devices that measure things (i.e. sensors) to smart devices that steer processes in the city (i.e. actuators) such as traffic lights, charging stations, adaptable street lights, barriers that go up and down, and adaptive digital signs.

To illustrate, throughout the city there are over 200 cameras, about 230 air quality sensors and almost 500 beacons in place. The latter being devices in physical spaces that emit a signal that can be picked up by mobile devices with a specific app.

Smart technologies like these help the municipality to efficiently measure, analyse and steer processes in the urban area. For example to optimize mobility flows in urban environments, to better use available capacity of energy infrastructures, to conduct condition management on the city’s assets, rationalise garbage removal and much more.

Responsible Urban Digitization
On the one hand, innovations like these can help improve the quality of life in the city and enhance safety and efficiency, but also sustainability and livability. Simultaneously, such novel technologies can impact society quite broadly. They could have consequences for matters that citizens value greatly, such as autonomy, privacy, transparency, inclusiveness and empowerment.

“The City does not want its inhabitants negatively impacted by potential privacy infringements, sense of loss of control and understandability, or reactions such as self-censorship.” - Sigrid Winkel | Urban Innovation Officer | City of Amsterdam CTO

“Our recent research has pointed out that ‘official’ actors primarily see transparency as a mean to ensure adoption, while citizens see transparency as a starting point for voicing their concerns and influencing the purpose and use of smart technology. This leads us to conclude that we - as designers of these systems - need to aim to design these systems for engagement as well as pushback by society.” - Gerd Kortuem | Professor & AMS PI

Launching a Responsible Sensing Lab
With our Responsible Urban Digitization program, we research, develop and integrate smart technologies like the aforementioned to help solve urban challenges. At the same time, we explore how to embed society’s public and democratic values in the design of these innovations.

As part of this program, we are launching a Responsible Sensing Lab. In essence this is a testbed for conducting rigorous, transparent, and replicable research how our smart technologies placed in public space can be designed in a way that makes the digital city ‘responsible’.

(Re)designing, prototype testing and implementing responsible sensing systems
In the Responsible Sensing Lab academics are invited to connect and work with practitioners who are responsible for digital systems in the city to (re)design, prototype and test (more) responsible ways of sensing in public space for and with the City of Amsterdam.

Hence, the Lab is a place where teams of multi-disciplinary stakeholders – such as computer scientists, policy makers, psychologists, designers and hardware experts – can address existing hardware, software and other city sensing systems.

“Responsible Sensing Lab is a place where experimentation and technologies come together to (re)design these innovations solutions that make public spaces cleaner, smarter and easier – while at the same time guaranteeing our social values.” - Thijs Turèl | Program Manager Responsible Urban Digitization | AMS Institute

Three cases: Human Scan Car, Transparant Charging Station, Camera Shutter
There are already a few examples of projects that will be further explored in the Responsible Sensing Lab. Namely, the Human Scan Car, Transparent Charging Station and Camera Shutter projects.

Firstly, scan cars – vehicles that are equipped with sensors to collect data on the urban environment – are becoming increasingly popular to help the municipality to carry out tasks efficiently. For example with parking policy enforcement, waste registration and advertisement taxation. Apart from making the city more efficient and clean, with this project we question and explore what public and democratic values should be embedded in the implementation of these scan cars.

Together with UNSense, we invited representatives from the City of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TADA, and researchers from TU Delft to join us for a 3-day sprint to design “the scan car of the future”, that also looks at the human and fair values of the advances in technology. Get a full impression of this design sprint here.

“Design should play a role in guiding the perceptions of, and interactions with, automated sensing systems in the city. Going through this process with AMS Institute's researchers and public servants, we’ll be able to bend the design towards a more consciously chosen, collectively desirable future.” - Tessa Steenkamp | Sensorial Experience Designer | UNSense

Secondly, the transparent charging station is a design project meant to explain smart charging algorithm decisions to users. In the near future, when electric cars become more prevelant, the electicity grid will no longer be able to charge all electric cars at the same time. Smart charging algorithms will help coordinate which car will get to charge at what time. But how do these algorithms decide? The transparent charging station project produces the first user interface informing people about smart charging decisions.

"The transparent charging station promises to improve the democratic oversight of algorithms in EV charging. By explaining charging algorithm inputs, procedures and outputs in a user interface, EV drivers should be able to determine the system's fairness and see who the responsible parties are". - Kars Alfrink | Doctoral Researcher | TU Delft

Thirdly, the Camera Shutter project originated based on the notion that people do not know if and when cameras in public space are recording or not*.* We wondered: would people like to live in a city where all city cameras clearly show or state when they’re not in use? What if, just like laptop shutters many people have placed over their webcam, this could be a way to make clear to citizens when a camera is not recording them?

For this third project, a timelapse camera at the office of AMS Institute was outfitted with a shutter. Subsequently, the effects of this small-scale pilot will be examined by interviewing staff and visitors.

Core values for responsible urban digitization
At the Responsible Sensing Lab, and for Responsible Urban Digitization program as a whole, we use the City’s values (TADA, Digital City Agenda) as our starting point. We will explore what these values mean when applied to actual digital software and hardware.

Also, we are inspired by the methodology of value sensitive design. This approach allows us to focus on design choices inherent in the type of sensing hardware, the distribution of intelligence between cloud and back-end, the physical design and placement of sensors in public space, and interaction possibilities for citizens.

Recently, a three year collaboration has been signed between the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute. In this Lab, we’ll work closely with experts at TU Delft Industrial Design Faculty.

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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

POSTPONED: Launch Responsible Sensing Lab & Opening Senses of Amsterdam Exhibit

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On Oct 27, we will officially launch the Responsible Sensing Lab during an interactive livestream event. This event also marks the opening of the interactive exhibit ‘Senses of Amsterdam’ at NEMO Studio: discover how sensors make Amsterdam a smarter city.
To celebrate this, we would like to invite you to join the interactive livestream of this event. Experts and guests will talk about what responsible sensing means to them, and we will present how the Responsible Sensing Lab wants to help design a better, more democratic, and more responsible digital future city.

Our keynote speaker Anthony Townsend will discuss the current state of Smart Cities through a livestream from the US. Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani will close the program with the official opening of the exhibit.


16.00 Start live stream

16.05 - Welcome
| Thijs Turel | AMS Institute, Program Manager Responsible Digitization
| Coen Bergman | CTO, City of Amsterdam, Innovation Developer Public Tech

16.10 - Keynote: From parasite to symbiant: Redesigning our relationship with urban sensors
| Anthony Townsend, writer and researcher

16.30 - Talkshow: Introduction to Responsible Sensing Lab
| Coen Bergman | CTO Office, City of Amsterdam, Innovation Developer Public Tech
| Thijs Turel | AMS Institute, Program Manager Responsible Digitization

16.45 - Panel Discussion: Influence of Corona on surveillance in Amsterdam
| Beryl Dreijer | CTO Office, City of Amsterdam, Privacy Officer
| Judith Veenkamp | Waag, Head of Smart Citizens Lab
| Prof. dr. Gerd Kortuem | AMS Institute, Principal Investigator & TU Delft, Professor of Internet of Things
Moderator | Aik van Eemeren, CTO Office, City of Amsterdam, Head of Public Tech

17.00 - Interview: why do we need a Responsible Sensing Lab in Amsterdam?
| Deputy Mayor Meliani | responsible for Arts and Culture, and Digital City
Interviewer | Aik van Eemeren, CTO Office, City of Amsterdam, Head of Public Tech

17.10 - Official Opening 'Senses of Amsterdam'
| Deputy Mayor Meliani | responsible for Arts and Culture, and Digital City

17.15 - Closing

More information about the full program & registration here: <>

AMS Institute's picture Online event on Oct 27th
AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

AMS Start-up Booster: Creating a better city by turning ideas into start-ups

After the summer, AMS Institute will launch a pre-incubation program: the AMS Start-up Booster. The program focuses on early-stage start-ups that want to make an impact and solve metropolitan challenges.

During a 4 month program, you will work towards a solid basis to further develop your start-up. Do you have a good idea, want to learn how to successfully pitch your start-up ideas and enter the next phase at an incubator? Pre-register and join us for the AMS Start-up Booster! More info via the link below.

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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

Professor Eveline van Leeuwen appointed as new Scientific Director AMS Institute

Eveline van Leeuwen, Professor of Urban Economics at Wageningen University & Research and international expert on spatial economics, has been appointed as Scientific Director of Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute). The appointment by the board of AMS Institute is effective as per September 1st.

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AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

ONLINE AMS Summer School - Urban Living Labs

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Build your knowledge & skills on the Living Lab approach during the online AMS Summer School 2020. This year's Summer School focuses on challenges brought forward by Amsterdam: Quay Walls and Bridges, Future Proof Assets and Positive energy Districts.

The challenges facing cities around the globe are complex and multidisciplinary by nature. Attempting to solve them in conventional linear ways is insufficient for addressing these manifold human-environment relationships that are at the heart of these challenges. Alternative approaches are necessary; ones that acknowledge the need for distributed problem-solving capacity and infrastructures for multi-stakeholder collaboration that incorporate local knowledge and practices.

AMS Institute is leading the way to develop, test, use, and train on Living Lab approaches. One of the forms in which to transfer knowledge and experience is in our Summer School.

This year we, focus on challenges brought forward by Amsterdam: Quay Walls and Bridges, Future Proof Assets and Positive energy Districts.

What are Urban Living Labs?
Urban Living Labs are environments for different stakeholders to explore and experiment together on solutions for complex urban challenges. The goal within Living Labs is to make impact by developing new products on a small scale – be it an object, a service, a technology, an application, or a system – and to find solutions that can be implemented on a larger scale. This is done in a real-life and co-creating setting in which different stakeholders give shape to the innovation process. The actors are users, private and public actors, as well as knowledge institutes. In essence, it is a methodology to help the collaboration and the structuring the content of an explorative process.

What you will get
You will learn to understand what a Living Lab is and when it can be of added value to start one. You’ll also gain hand-on knowledge on what is needed to have a successful start, and how to deal with issues such as stakeholder involvement and citizen empowerment.

The summer school will challenge you to work with a new mindset, build a new network of professionals and academia. It gives you the opportunity to be a part of the next steps towards the future of one of Amsterdam’s key projects.

During the summer school, we will help you solve the real-world challenge you bring with your team.

What we will do During the week you will work in a team of 5 participants on a pre-defined real-life case. The Urban Living Lab Summer School consists of lectures, online co-working sessions, trainings, and real-world interventions. It will tap into theoretical frameworks of Living Lab methodology, process tools to help deliver a plan of approach and deploy teamwork on a real-life case. It will focus on your own learning goals for reinventing cities of tomorrow. The mix of participants (Academic Researchers, Public Professionals, and Company Innovation Managers) generates new insights and perspectives on the challenges by cocreating solutions together.

Requirements for participation
As a participant,

  • you are a professional with minimal five years of experience in the field of urban challenges;
  • or you are involved as a PhD or Postdoc in urban challenged research projects
  • you identify with themes like urban circularity, mobility, energy, food systems, climate resilience and digitization;
  • you strive for sustainable, innovative and just solutions;
  • you are looking for different ways to tackle urban challenges;
  • you are inclined to learn, collaborate and co-create from different perspectives.

Challenges: Quay Walls and Bridges, Future Proof Assets and Positive energy Districts

Target Group: Academic Researchers, Public Professionals, and Company Innovation Managers

Form: lectures, interactive online sessions with personal learning goals and team challenges.

Language: English

When: 17-21 August 2020
Where: Online

PHD regular price €500; 2020 edition special price €300
PROFESSIONALS* regular price €2000; 2020 edition special price €1500
TEAMS please contact us for a special package deal

* AMS Institute partners please contact us for our partner prizes.

The application deadline is July 20th 2020. The application should include full name, email address, cell phone number, organization/university- faculty, function, CV. The application must include a motivation letter. Send the application to

AMS Institute's picture Online event on Aug 17th