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

Data visualization: how does the lockdown impact city life?

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Over a year ago, the lockdown was introduced in the Netherlands. This “new normal” impacted our lives in many ways. Our data visualization team wondered: how does the lockdown impact city life?

From cardboard and glass waste numbers, happiness levels for people living in cities versus residents of rural areas to data on car traffic, water usage and CO2 emissions in the city. Check out what they investigated: https://www.ams-institute.org/news/data-visualization-how-does-lockdown-impact-city-life/

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

CINDERELA living lab

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From urine to plant 'food'
CINDERELA is a demonstration plant that transforms urine into nutrient-rich fertilizer. The plant is located at Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab (MALL), and consists of a refurbished shipping container – containing a laboratory and two urine-diverting toilets – and an adjacent greenhouse which also serves as a meeting space.
Visitors of the Marineterrein who use the toilets can witness how their urine is stabilized and purified in a bioreactor, and then distilled and concentrated into organic plant 'food'. At the demonstration plant, the urine is separated by the diverting toilets after which it is treated and 100% converted to usable raw material streams: nutrient-rich fertilizer and 'clean' water.

These two resulting products: the fertilizer – free of bad odor, pathogens or micropollutants – and water, will be used in the greenhouse and vegetable garden adjacent container, showcasing how nutrient-recovery technologies can be implemented to turn waste into resources and close the nutrient loop/create circular food systems.

Toilets that 'save' urine from the sewage system
So what actually makes urine a valuable organic waste stream? Its Nitrogen and Phosphorus content makes it a good fertilizer and compost accelerator. However, as you can imagine, it needs to be treated first to remove its bad odor and contaminants. In our innovative CINDERELA project, all available nutrients are recovered from urine.

In order to achieve this, a new type of toilet is used – developed by EAWAG, EOOS and LAUFEN – which looks just like a normal toilet. The only difference is that these toilets have an internal curved section that catches liquid on and around the bowl. By collecting the urine before it ends up in the sewage system, these toilets allow this waste stream to be re-purposed.

Separating urine before it ends up in the sewage systems is an effective recovery approach, as urine makes up roughly ~1.5% of the volume of sewage yet contains ~55% of its Phosphorus content and 80% of the Nitrogen (the two main nutrients needed for a fertilizer).

CINDERELA’s urine to fertilizer process is largely based on the “VUNA” process developed by scientists at EAWAG. “Aurin” is the resulting fertilizer commercialized by EAWAG’s spinoff “VUNA”.

Why is it important to recover nutrients from our wastewater?
Nitrogen and Phosphorus are among the nutrients which can be recovered from urine. These two nutrients together with other macro- and micronutrients are essential for plant growth and thus the production of our food.

However, the current model for managing these nutrients in our food cycle is out of balance and unsustainable. Modern agriculture relies heavily on the use of mineral/synthetic fertilizers as a source of nutrients. This is problematic because both the production and usage of these nutrients cause problems:

(1) production of mineral/synthetic fertilizers is dependent on fossil and mineral reserves. Nitrogen fertilizers are derived from the energy-intensive conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia (known as the Haber-Boshprocess). Phosphorus is obtained from the mining of phosphate rock reserves, which are finite and limited to a few locations around the globe.

(2) the intensive use of fertilizers is increasing (roughly doubling) the input of available nitrogen and phosphorus into natural ecosystems which has severe ecological consequences. The over availability of fertilizers used on fields ends up in our water systems. This causes eutrophication: a dense growth of plant life that can disrupt existing eco-systems.

Circular use of Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) (e.g. recycling the nutrients in our wastewater back to food production) is essential to, on the one hand, reduce our dependency on fossil and mineral reserves, and on the other avoid the negative ecological impact of “waste” nutrients ending up in the environment.

Closing the loops
The process of transforming urine into fertilizer in itself sounds innovative, we can imagine. On its own, this concept of recovering nutrients from urine is not new as there are several projects in place in which this is done. There are however a few reasons why our CINDERELA project is particularly innovative:

  • Firstly, let's start of with the way the urine is collected in this project. In many cases, projects (can) only make use of urinals. The toilets available in this project can be used by anyone, which enables us to collect greater amounts of this waste stream, without the need to change user's habits.
  • Secondly, many of the existing projects that focus on recovering nutrients from urine are limited to retrieving struvite (which contains phosphorus, and limited amounts of nitrogen). In this project, all available nutrients are retrieved. Adding to this, the residual water, after struvite recovery, is still water waste. At the CINDERELA demonstration plant, the full urine stream is treaded and reused. Plants and greens will be grown with the recovered nutrients as well as the water;
  • Thirdly, at this living lab plastic is collected separately – according to type and quality – to be recycled using AM techniques. After washing and grinding this plastic, it is used in 3D printing to make components to build a customizable freestanding planted wall – a perfect spot for the plants and greens to grow.
  • Last but not least, 'closing the loop' with regard to all the above: the CINDERELA living lab contributes to creating a local circular system as the entire loop of organic and inorganic waste streams is closed; from urine to fertilizer and water, from plastic to a plant-wall.

Larger project scope
This experiment is part of a larger European project that focuses on recycling resources and waste material in the construction center. The overall objective of CINDERELA is to unlock the potential for a resource-efficient urban and peri-urban construction sector by developing a new Circular Economy Business Model (CEBM) for use of secondary raw materials (SRM) produced from different waste streams – such as wastewater – within urban and peri-urban area. Read more about the project here.

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

Space for Food: Space technology for sustainable food systems on Earth

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A big part of innovation in space technology revolves around finding smart, efficient and circular ways to establish a life support system for the astronauts going on the trip. Since it’s simply impossible to bring an end-less amount of resources on board, how do you make sure the astronauts can eat, drink and breath?

What if we view “cities as spaceships”; in terms of urban environments being ‘closed-loop systems’? This gives way to the idea that the same space technology developed by ESA could be applied to increase circularity in a city like Amsterdam.

Towards circular resource streams
Municipal wastewater is a great resource for nutrients and water reuse. The Space for Food project aims to use space technology in recovering nutrients and cleaning wastewater that can be used in food production using vertical farming. Closing the loops from waste to resource will help improving the impact in the environment, while creating resilience for the cities.

For this reason, the project will test a proof of concept using a raceway reactor for purple bacteria cultivation on brewery and municipal yellow wastewater at Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab. The biomass will be used as slow release fertilizer and bio-stimulant for cultivation of vegetables.

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

Accelerating circularity: monitoring tool geoFluxus helps cities turn company waste into value

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Amsterdam 100% circular by 2050
The City of Amsterdam wants to be fully circular by 2050. That means that everything we use on a daily basis – from coffee cups to building materials – must consist of materials that have already had a previous life.

When it comes to household waste – this consists of, among others, vegetable, fruit and garden waste, paper, glass and textiles – the City has a duty to collect and process this. To give you an impression, the total household waste came down to about 380kg per year per person.

When comparing the amount of household versus company waste produced in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA), still only 11% is household related, whereas 89% is company waste – such as sludge, scrap metals, wood and scrap lumber and very dedicated to the company processes related waste flows.

These company waste materials, as compared to consumer waste flows, often enter the waste flow in relatively good condition. This holds for instance for glass and wood, which are suitable for making window frames. If managed differently, these used materials in company 'waste' flows could be directly integrated at the start of the design process of new products.

So… How to boost the efficient re-use of company waste materials within the AMA?

geoFluxus: Turning data into comprehensible maps and graphs
With geoFluxus, incomprehensible waste data tables – including a.o. import and export and treatment methods – are converted into comprehensible maps and graphs. This is extremely valuable for spatial strategies in many other cities world-wide, and therefore TU Delft researchers Rusne Sileryte and Arnout Sabbe have founded the like-named spin off company geoFluxus, which has recently gone through a Arcadis City of 2030 Accelerator powered by Techstars.

Next to mapping waste, the geoFluxus team has connected open EU data on GHG emissions to the mapped waste flows by using transport, economic sector and waste treatment statistics. The resulting tool can provide governments with data evidence on what economic sectors, materials and locations hold the highest potential not only for waste reduction but also reductions of carbon emissions. Governments can use the tool to monitor progress towards circularity.

One company’s waste could be another one’s gain
The insights on the waste data generated by geoFluxus enable users to develop and test the impact of spatial strategies, for very specific locations, before actually implementing them. In addition, geoFluxus takes on a “match making” role: to have companies select company materials from other actors close by to re-use these instead of transporting the materials for waste treatment outside the AMA... Click on the link to read the full article >>

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

Launch Responsible Sensing Lab & Opening of Exhibit 'Senses of Amsterdam'

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On January 28, we will officially launch the Responsible Sensing Lab during an interactive online event. This event also marks the opening of ‘Senses of Amsterdam’ at NEMO Studio: an exhibit about the sensors in the city.

To celebrate this, we would like to invite you to join the interactive Livestream of this event. In several online workshops we will talk about what responsible sensing means, and discuss what should be done to 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 (virtual) opening of the exhibit.

Anthony Townsend is a writer and researcher whose work lies at the intersection of urbanization and digital technology. Anthony will give a keynote called From Parasite to Symbiant: Redesigning Our Relationship With Urban Sensors.

Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani is responsible for  Arts and Culture, and Digital City, for the City of Amsterdam. Meliani will officially open the Exhibition 'Senses of Amsterdam' on display at the NEMO de Studio.

Program

14:50 Virtual walk-in workshop groups

15:00 WORKSHOPS
A. Designing Citizen Interactions for Urban Sensing Systems
| Kars Alfrink | TU Delft, Researcher, Designer and PhD candidate Industrial Design
| Marcel Schouwenaar | The Incredible Machine, Designer and Creative director

B. Designing Checks and Balances for Urban Surveillance
| Aafke Fraaije | VU Amsterdam, Researcher and PhD Candidate
| Surbhi Agrawal | AMS Institute & RSL, Urbanist and Research Assistant

C. Sensor data
| Anne-Maartje Douqué | City of Amsterdam, CIO Office, Advisor Personal Data
| Beryl Dreijer | City of Amsterdam, CTO Office, Privacy Officer

D. Responsible Crowd Sensing Toolkit
| Tom van Arman | CITIXL, Urban Innovator
| Paul Manwaring | CITIXL, Urban Innovator

15:50 Closing workshops

16:00 LIVESTREAM EVENT FROM NEMO STUDIO
| Moderator | Derisee Hoving

16.10 KEYNOTE
From Parasite to Symbiant: Redesigning Our Relationship With Urban Sensors
| Anthony M. Townsend | Writer and Researcher

16:30 TALKSHOW
Responsible Sensing Lab
| Thijs Turel | AMS Institute, Program Manager Responsible Digitization
| Coen Bergman | City of Amsterdam, CTO, Innovation Developer Public Tech

16:55 PANEL DISCUSSION
Influence of Corona on surveillance in Amsterdam
| Beryl Dreijer | City of Amsterdam, CTO Office, Privacy Officer
| Judith Veenkamp | Waag, Head of Smart Citizens Lab
| Prof dr. Gerd Kortuem | TU Delft & AMS Institute, Professor of Internet of Things

17:15 INTERVIEW
Responsible Sensing Lab & Smart Cities
| Deputy Mayor Meliani | Responsible for Arts and Culture, and Digital City

17:25 EXHIBIT OPENING
'Senses of Amsterdam' with a virtual tour
| Deputy Mayor Meliani | Responsible for Arts and Culture, and Digital City

17:30 Closing

Register here

It is both possible to join the program at 15.00h for the workshops, or at 16.00h for the rest of the program. Please let us know which part(s) of the program you will be joining by clicking here.

More information on the workshops can be found in the registration link.
You will receive a link to the Livestream a day in advance.

Senses of Amsterdam

In 'Sense of Amsterdam' you can discover how sensors make Amsterdam a Smarter city. This interactive installation at NEMO Studio is about the sensors we use in our city. What measurements are taken and how is data collected? The installation informs about the sensors in Amsterdam and how these sensors make the city smarter. You will be challenged to think along with them, and how we can make their use more 'responsible'.

The installation is a collaboration of AMS Institute, City of Amsterdam and NEMO, and is part of the program Responsible Sensing Lab.

Responsible Sensing Lab

This lab explores how to integrate social values in the design of sensing systems in public space. It is a testbed for conducting rigorous, transparent, and replicable research on how smart technologies placed in public space can be designed in a way that makes the digital city ‘responsible’. The Responsible Sensing Lab (RSL) is a collaboration of AMS Institute and the Digital City program of the City of Amsterdam. More information here.

AMS Institute's picture Online event on Jan 28th
AMS Institute, Re-inventing the city (urban innovation) at AMS Institute, posted

The Hungry City #58: Growing new flavors

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Join us during this event about food cultures and growing food in a super diverse city on Dec 9 | 20:30h at Pakhuis de Zwijger.

More than 180 nationalities have settled in the super diverse city of Amsterdam. All these cultures and culinary traditions can be found in the many eateries, living rooms and markets. They are an important part of a neighborhood's urban culture. In this program we go on a tasty journey through Amsterdam Southeast. We talk about the rich variation in culinary traditions and eating habits and how these can disappear or change with the transformation of the district.

Registration
This event takes place at Pakhuis de Zwijger and is organized in collaboration with AMS Institute. Register for this event here.

This event will be in Dutch.

AMS Institute's picture Online event on Dec 9th