Rogier Havelaar

Activity

  • 15
    Updates
  • 11
    Smarts
  • 6
    Comments
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Completed: Livable and clean streets

Featured image

With the information of the mailmen, the municipality wants to improve it’s internal processes in order to increase the satisfaction of citizens concerning the way the municipality solved the problem reported.

Kickoff municipality and PostNL

PostNL en gemeente samen voor een schoner Amsterdam | PostNL

Samenwerken aan een schoner Amsterdam | PostNL

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Interview in Greek Netweek Magazine issue on Smart Cities

Featured image

'Recently, you’ve estimated that nearly one million people are in place to execute smart city activities in Europe. Could you comment upon this?' ASC team member Rogier Havelaar shares this view on the role of the mailman in the smart city.

Recently, you’ve estimated that nearly one million people are in place to execute smart city activities in Europe. Could you comment upon this?

I’ve just made a quick calculation. In the Netherlands, we roughly have one mailman for 350 households. Per household, we have an average of 2,5 people. The population of Europe is 743 million people. Using the estimations of the Netherlands, you come to 850.000 mailmen Europe. Because many areas in Europe are less dense populated then the Netherlands, I adjusted the estimation to ‘near one million’. However, the numbers are just an indication. My central point is that I see an incredible network of people who are every day in every street of Europe. Postal operators are very good organized in international networks. Im dreaming of a combination of near one million mailmen, their local presence, technology used and high organization ratio of the companies they work for is unique and very useful for smart city projects on a European scale.

The Smart City potential of postal networks can only be underestimated

The Smart City potential of postal networks can therefore only be underestimated: we could measure and compare cities as Athens, Rome, Barcelona, London, Berlin and Amsterdam on the same criteria and using the same measurement method within a few days. Postal vehicles can be used for air quality to pavement quality measurement projects.. And they can do so with relatively small investments because most of the required assets are already in place. Additional to the added value the postal networks have in their own markets, I believe that there is a multiplier effect when combining these networks on a European or worldwide scale. Companies as US Post and Japan Post are also investigation comparable opportunities.

Can you point out certain trends that are present in the Smart Cities reality?

In the beginning of my Smart City journey in the Netherlands which started in may 2015, I only saw large technology and connectivity companies on the playing field. Smart City was more about marketing IoT solutions then about creating sustainable cities. Despite some small successes which have been emphasized over and over (such as the smart bin case in Barcelona, which was mentioned at every smart city meeting in the world) and repeating the claim that ‘in 2020, 50 billion things will be connected to the internet” (I think I’ve heard this quote more than 50 billion times) there was not much to report. Companies were protecting their intellectual property and municipalities their budget.

This playing field opened up by governments requesting startups to come up with smart solutions (the city of Amsterdam, for example, opened a tender dedicated for startups), by disruptive startups as the things network and by many public-private cooperation’s with a main focus on learning instead of business.

For the near future, I see two big hurtles which have to be taken. Firstly, we as smart city professionals should focus on execution of ideas and scaling them up instead of a focus on the development of more ideas. We need to do and to act instead of brainstorming and discussing. This will lead to large scale projects within the domain of Smart cities. No longer twenty smart lights and twenty smart bins on a piece of five hundred meter smart roads, but a project of two hundred smart lights and two hundred smart bins on a piece of five kilometer smart road through the historic center, new build neighborhoods and industrial areas of the city. After these medium sized projects, there should be a business case for smart cities where commercial investors, governments, citizens and solution providers all play their role. Summarized: we need to go from idea and MVP phase to scale up projects and define the governance (financially and policy-wise) of the smart city.

What will be the next step towards Smart City initiatives? Are there certain aspects and sectors that will explode / arise?

I think the initiatives with a clear business case will be the smart city blockbusters. Connectivity (city wifi, 4G/5G, long range low band internet such as LoRa or NbIoT), Energy (peak reduction, smart lightning), Mobility (building materials, waste) will be the most visible and largest scale initiatives. However, I think you do not need the Smart City framework for this kind of innovations. The true Smart City initiatives are initiatives that take a multidisciplinary approach to smart city problems. For example, PostNL is involved in a multidisciplinary team of Philips Healthcare, ONVZ health insurance, Nutricia Danone and a local knowledge institute. In this project, we combine technology (the participants receive a sensor measuring all their movement) with nutrition, physiotherapy and social interventions (the PostNL mailmen will have a central role in the project). What I like about this kind of projects is that people play a significant role in it. Of course, we all think that a world of robotics and drones is cool. But I want to live in a city of people, with people.

And I think I’m not the only one who wants that. Therefore, I think that on the long run that only smart city projects aiming at people and the question how people want to live together will be successful. There is no scarcity in technology in the future. The real scarcity will be about real interaction between real humans who want to be seen and recognized as human and want to contribute to society.

How key is knowledge exchange and transfer to the success of Smart City initiatives?

Of course knowledge exchange is key to success. If you can’t share, you can’t multiply. A year ago, I was looking for good quality low cost outdoor air quality sensors, which we place into our letterboxes on the street. I was surprised about the number of NDAs I received related to the number of working sensors I’ve seen. I think it’s better to bundle development power and work together to a good solution. We waste a lot of time with protecting unproven ideas.

Have you got certain “Smart” plans in the pipeline?

Yes absolutely. Within PostNL we have defined four Smart City research areas:

- City Logistics: how can PostNL be the logistics service provider of the city of the future?
- Social domain: how can PostNL help elderly people to live longer in their own home independently and happy?
- Public Spaces: how can PostNL help to keep the streets clean, undamaged and nice?
- Requests of organizations: what specific services can we develop, e.g. taking water meters within houses?

We currently are scaling up these initiatives to medium sized pilots as I described above. In order to do so, we work together with Prime Vision, a daughter company of PostNL with experience in smart city projects worldwide. We develop in small steps but have a clear focus on execution.

Rogier Havelaar's picture News
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Nearly one million human smart city nodes in place in Europe!

Featured image

Across Europe, a network of almost one million people (961.529 according to my calculation) is in place to execute smart city activities. This network is present in every street in all European countries almost every day of the week. Ready to measure the quality of the public space, to have an eye on elderly people living alone or to deliver proximity services for companies and consumers.

On November 24, European postal operators gathered together on Cyprus to discuss the potential they can have in the smart city domain. The session was organized by Post Europ, www.posteurop.org. Examples of successful projects from several countries have been presented. PostNL, as a partner of Amsterdam Smart City, presented projects from the Netherlands and explained the added value of the Amsterdam Smart City community.
As a side effect of the meeting, the postal operators realized that their unique networks in their own countries have a huge potential when you combine all those networks on a European scale. A small calculation: Holland has 17 million inhabitants and 22.000 mailmen. Scaling this number up to 743 million inhabitants within the EU brings us to one million mailmen across Europe.

Imagine: a million people with a smartphone measuring the same things across Europe! Wouldn’t that be very interesting – or to put it as I feel it: incredibly awesome?!?

Because the people network is comparable (same kind of work, same kind of people, same kind of technology) it should be easy to scale up smart city initiatives on a European scale. That brings the opportunity to compare, for example, the quality of public spaces in Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and London following the same method and to execute this benchmark in the same period of time.

I’m very enthusiastic to work on this idea. If you have any suggestions or remarks, or examples of Smart City activities of postal operators: please contact me!

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Postal Services and Smart Cities: five pilots, three business models and difficult questions to be answered

Featured image

Last September, the office of inspector general of US post published a report on postal services and smart cities. In a recent podcast, the authors of the report sketch three business models and five pilots for postal operators. The pilots are on using the postal trucks to measure the quality of the road (e.g. pothole detection), bridges (measuring vibrations on the bridge), air quality (sensors on a car) measuring the quality of underground water infrastructure (using long range Bluetooth transmitters) and measuring urban blight (using the local presence of the carrier).

Last September, the office of inspector general of US post published a report on postal services and smart cities. In a recent podcast, the authors of the report sketch three business models and five pilots for postal operators. The pilots are on using the postal trucks to measure the quality of the road (e.g. pothole detection), bridges (measuring vibrations on the bridge), air quality (sensors on a car) measuring the quality of underground water infrastructure (using long range Bluetooth transmitters) and measuring urban blight (using the local presence of the carrier).

There are many opportunities for using the postal networks as data collection networks. Interestingly, I see many postal operators working on the same kind of propositions. Read my earlier blogs for more examples from Spain and Belgium.

Not only the pilots several postal carriers conduct are comparable but also the discussion on business models. The first business model is to rent inches in postal trucks where a customer can place sensors in. The second one is to define what data may be interesting (and to whom) and to actually collect this data. The final business model is a “full service provider” model.

Of course, the full service provider business model is the most interesting, but also the one with the highest risk. If I, as a postal operator, invest my money in turning the network into an air quality measurement platform, who will be paying for this collected data? Questions like this one are the barriers for growth within the smart city domain and not only for postal operators, but also for producers of smart lights, smart parking sensors or smart bins.

Another issue arising from the podcast is how to deal with privacy concerns? Take the urban blight detection pilot for example. In this pilot, the mailman can inform the municipality with early signals of urban blight. The benefit of the postal service is that they are present in every street. The carrier can see when a house becomes vacant e.g. when mail is not picked up. Being able to capture the knowledge of the carrier would be a huge opportunity. You can collect the same kind of information in different cities and compare it. The question is to what extent and for what reason mailmen are willing to share information they have and society is willing the mailman to share this data. If postal operators are the data collectors of the smart city of the future, this question must be addressed in more detail.

Therefore, I’m happy to attend the Smart Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT) summit organized by PostEurop on November 24. As I wrote in an earlier blog, it’s my strong conviction that there is a brigt future for postal organizations. However, their license to operate should come from local neighborhoods, inhabitants and customers and not from government officials. I think there are three main conditions postal operators should have in mind and which I will bring to the summit:

Condition 1: Postal services are part of local communities

Postal operators have to think about their place within the local ecosystem of every neighborhood: we are a part of those communities and not ‘just’ a supplier or ‘just’ a data collector. Most of the postal workers (at least in the Netherlands) live as a neighbor in the area wherein they deliver mail and collect data. In terms of business models, postal organizations should therefore be transparent about their activities, actively involve (opt in) or inform (opt out) consumers in their propositions and ask local communities about their opinions on the services provided.

Condition 2: Trust in the Mailman, his Abilities and in the Corporate he works for

Asking postal workers to execute extra activities may sound attractive in PowerPoint presentations for decision makers, but in practice we have to realize that this ‘logic’ is not automatically seen by others. For example, mailmen checking elderly people need to have the personal trust of the elderly people (“I know you and you are a nice person”), in his abilities (“you are indeed able to have a good conversation with me”) and in the corporate asking him to do the extra job (“this is a brand I trust”). This three levels of trust will give the postal operator the license to operate within the smart city domain, as a trusted, able and nice partner within the local community.

Condition 3: Business Models with Societal Benefits

To be sure not to be detached from the local community and to keep the three levels of trust high, postal organizations should focus on business models with societal benefits. Such as data collection from public spaces in order to keep cities clean, pothole detection, checking health conditions of elderly people. Not surprisingly, it are these kind of models postal operators worldwide are developing. Doing good by doing business should be the motto of postal organizations in the smart city domain. If they do, they will also be a good alternative of criticized “big brother is watching you” projects which we also find in the Smart City domain.

Rogier Havelaar's picture News
Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Across Europe, the postman helps to overcome loneliness

Featured image

In a few days the "week against loneliness” ends. The question naturally arises: what's next? The topic loneliness has been a ‘hot topic’ for a long time. Not surprising, because the urbanization on the one hand and the shrinking areas on the other hand cause an increase in loneliness. How can postmen help? European countries know!

In a few days the Week against Loneliness ends. The question naturally arises: what's next? The topic loneliness has been a ‘hot topic’ for a long time. Not surprising, because the urbanization on the one hand and the shrinking areas on the other hand cause an increase in loneliness. Combined with budget cuts taking place in the social domain, you get shocking figures: 3.5 million people in the Netherlands are lonely, more than 1 million are very lonely.

There are many initiatives to find a structural solution to this problem. Consider initiatives of the Red Cross and the National Fund for Elderly People or commercial initiatives such as hiring a student to do a walk or a professional caregiver at home with whom you can play a game of scrabble.

Even large companies are looking at their possible contributions to solve this problem. I zoom in on activities carried out by postal companies in Europe. In France, the postman keeps an eye on the elderly. Many elderly people live remote and the postman is their only social contact. For € 4.40 per week, the French Post offers the elderly a visit of the postman. The German Post has previously developed similar services. The Belgian post offers intake questionnaires at the doorstep so municipalities and institutions get a good picture of the elderly. The Finnish Post offers several "home services" for the elderly because they are often left behind in the countryside while their children move to the cities. In short: Across Europe, the postman helps to overcome loneliness.

Also at PostNL we are working on this theme. We do this for two reasons. First, we see that our postmen play an incredibly important role in the neighborhood. For example, in May this year, a man of seventy was found dead in his home. Both local residents and the postman reported the address to the municipality. Because of situations like this, we participate in Rotterdam in the project "Report Isolation", to allow postmen to report worrisome situations.

Secondly, the postman is a familiar person in the streets. Because the mailman is often working in a district for a longer period of time, he knows the area and its residents. That's why we did a second trial in Rotterdam: mailmen were requested by the municipality of Rotterdam to take interviews with elderly people.

The results of both projects are interesting. Postmen can pass on signals of possible 'unsafe' situations to the social teams of the municipality. Obviously, in compliance with privacy laws. Our extra eyes and ears on the street already reached a number of people in the city of Rotterdam. These people were socially isolated or needed some help. The trial with interviewing seventy-five elderly at home learns us that the elderly were satisfied about the conversations and our deliverers saw the service as a useful addition to their work.

Although we do not know where the two tests will lead us on the long term, we see that the postman can play a valuable role in this type of social activities. In a society where more and more people are lonely and neighbors don’t know each other anymore, the postman can play a role in bringing them together.

Other blogs of Rogier:

Measuring public opinion in the public space

Having a good webcare team is not being a good government

Managing the public space using daily insights: the mailman collects data

How to evaluate Smart City innovation: Wildcard for roundtable on September 14th

Twenty-Seven Pink Potential Smart City Nodes in Amsterdam

Bpost uses cars to measure air quality - Bright future for postal organizations!

Santander City Council and Correos signed an agreement to promote initiatives "Smart City" and encourage innovation

Rogier Havelaar's picture #Citizens&Living