Rogier Havelaar

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Measuring public opinion in the public space

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The knowledge network CROW organized a meeting on measuring public opinion on the public space. How do you ensure that people feel comfortable there? PostNL mail deliverers Geerly and Ton and team leader Albert shared their experiences in the different pilots of PostNL with the participants – all professionals in the work field of public sphere management - in the meeting.

The knowledge network CROW organized a meeting on measuring public opinion in the public space. How do you ensure that people feel comfortable there? PostNL mail deliverers Geerly and Ton and team leader Albert shared their experiences in the different pilots of PostNL with the participants – all professionals in the work field of public sphere management - in the meeting.

What experience?

The meeting participants were particularly interested in the various PostNL projects in managing public space. For example, photographing weeds or litter, or taking interviews with residents. The participants wanted to know what kind of information the postman can give. Geerly: "I see more potential than before I came to this meeting. People were genuinely interested and looking for new resources. The advantage that we already have 22.000 mailmen, every day of the week in every street, is bigger than I imagined before I attended the meeting."

An impression of the conversation

The participants are policy officials of the municipality, representatives of service providers, consultants and designers. They had several questions for Geerly, Ton and Albert:

• How does the mailman combine the added services with delivering the mail? Ton: "It is totally not burdensome to do. We divide the extra work over several postmen and everyone carries out the tasks in his own district, it is a piece of cake..." Team leader Albert: "Postmen respond positively. Of course there are differences, but as soon as the mailmen are involved in a project and start with the extra work, they are very positive about it."

• What are the reactions of local residents when the postmen takes a survey or takes a photo on the street? Geerly: "I run for three years in my neighborhood and I know the people. I ask them simply whether they want to participate in a survey. They are positive, they hope that the municipality does something with the input they give to me. Because I know the people in my district and they know me, it’s easy to ask them some questions." Ton: "For me it is the same. At all spots where I have to take pictures I have been approached by residents. When I tell them that we, for our customer Twente Milieu improve the removal of weeds, people are immediately positive. Moreover, one resident asked me if I could pass on to the message that the road really needs to be improved."

• Would residents be able to reports on the public space? Rogier (yes, that’s me ;-)): "That depends on what the customer wants. I think the mailmen will be capable of having this kind of function, but I can also imagine that municipalities themselves want to have this contact with residents. It is important to know what kind of residents live in a certain district. In districts where residents go to the municipality with their complaints, the added value of the mailman is lower than in districts where residents don't do that.”

Was the meeting useful?

Ton: "This was a very useful meeting. As a mailmen, I now see what issues play a role for municipalities and other agencies. I see that we can be useful in certain subjects, such as the measurement of perception. Furthermore, it was fun and a nice afternoon to have this kind of talks."

This type of reaction also came from the participants of the meeting. When you think about the potential of 22,000 eyes and ears, being on the street for five days a week, with a dedicated smartphone app, then all kinds of ideas come up.

Other blogs of Rogier:

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

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Having a good webcare team is not being a good government

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The newspaper Algemeen Dagblad stated that municipalities respond quick and adequate to citizens’ complaints on Twitter. It is no surprise that the number of social media interactions between citizens and the local government increases. However, social media is just one way to connect with a specific kind of citizen and responding on social media is not all the municipality has to do with respect to monitoring the public sphere.

The role of webcare teams is primarily that of a translator: he translates the citizens’ emotional complaint regarding garbage on the street into a well formulated work order in a computer system. Depending on the kind of work order, the maintenance team has a service level agreement to solve the problem within 24 hours or within several days. The social media team tweets back: “Oh yes that’s messy! I have announced in our system. My colleague from maintenance will go after is as soon as possible”. And following on the positive statement of Algemeen Dagblad, I assume that the standard terms to solve a problem are rightly chosen: the social media complaints are not solved faster than ‘regular’ complaints.

Despite the positive experiences, having a good webcare team does not equal being a good government for all inhabitants. Firstly because most social media posts should be perceived as a complaint instead of a dialogue. Second, because people posting complaints on social media represent a limited number of people. Third, because a municipality has an own responsibility in managing the public sphere. Let’s have a closer look at this three remarks to the so-called social media “beep system”.

Complaint rather than a dialogue

As a government you want to communicate in a two-way relation with citizens. However, too often a complaining citizen is confused with a citizen who wants to share his ideas. If the social media relationship between the municipality and the citizen is exclusively about complaints and not on ideas then we miss opportunities to improve. Thus: a social media team should not only translate the complaint into a work order, but should also start the dialogue on continues improvement opportunities. A good example of this approach is the “gardener initiative” of the municipality of Sittard. The dialogue on this Facebook site is moved from demanding for and delivering of solutions to sharing ideas.

Who is complaining

My second remark to the “beep system” is that the type of citizen posting messages is limited. In general, they are citizens who speak up to the government. However, many people (especially from lower social classes) do not. Managing the public sphere at the basis of “beeps” from citizens result in very clean streets in neighborhoods with many posting citizens (mostly higher social classes), and dirty streets in neighborhoods where people do not complain. As an alternative, municipalities should develop tools to measure the quality of neighborhoods. In the one neighborhood the ‘beep system’ is sufficient, in the other it is definitely not.

Own responsibility

Finally, the municipality has an own responsibility which cannot be handed over to citizens. Too often, cost reduction is implemented under the title “enforcing citizen participation”. That citizen participation leads to cost saving does not proof that cost saving is also leading to citizen participation. The challenging task for every municipality is to build a system wherein social media interaction, citizen participation, professional inspection and cost saving go hand-in-hand. Initiatives as the gardener of Sittard are inspiring examples of building this new ecosystems wherein every participant can play its own role.

Check the article in Algemeen Dagblad: http://www.ad.nl/den-haag/steeds-meer-klachten-via-twitter-over-troep-op-straat~a39bb570/

Check the gardener of Sittard on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tuinmansittardgeleen/

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

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

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The way we monitor the quality of the public space is changing. In the past, municipalities hired gardeners and assigned them to mow the lawn twenty times a year. Later, they instructed the gardeners about how the lawn should look: “I don’t care how many times you mow the lawn, but make sure it always looks like the instructions”. The municipality hired an inspector one or two times a year to check whether the gardener did a good job.

Nowadays, we see that the quality of good work is measured in the residents’ satisfaction, rather than following instructions: “no matter how many times you mow the lawn, no matter how the lawn looks like, I want the residents to give a positive evaluation for the lawn!”.

Although the definition of quality and quality measurement has changed last decades, the way of measuring quality hasn’t changed. A professional inspector is still hired to inspect the public space once or twice a year.

A lot of research has been done about influencers of citizen perception of quality in public space. For example, the level of waste on the street is an important influencer. Measuring this daily gives municipalities the possibility to improve the quality of the street every day. Different measures against waste can be tried and evaluated in a short period of time. And thus putting real effort in resident satisfaction.

To be more effective as municipality or entrepreneur in the public space, three ingredients for the monitoring system are required: Firstly, an actual overview of the current state of assets and pavements: are they clean and undamaged? Secondly, a system to measure the perceived quality of the public space, this may differ for various kinds of neighborhoods. Third, a protocol to translate this data into operational processes. Actual measurement data should be connected to operational processes far more than is done now.

Only when these three ingredients are present, different interventions on cleaning, repairing and increasing citizen satisfaction van be monitored and evaluated.

As concept developer for Amsterdam Smart City, I have conducted theoretical and applied research for a real-time based monitoring system for the public sphere. When we combine data citizens create (using social media and dedicated public space apps), data on weather conditions and events and data the mailman collects, we can build such a monitoring system.

The mailman, as eyes and ears on the street can collect data on a daily basis. For example, by taking pictures of certain locations in the city. Moreover, he can be trained to make judgements about the quality of the public space. Finally, he can check whether complaints of citizens have been solved properly.

On September 13th, the Royal Society for Waste and Cleaning management (http://www.nvrd.nl/homepage) organizes a conference on the future of the management of the public spaces. During this day, I will give a plenary speech on the results of one and a half year’s research I conducted together with Harro Verhoeven, Simon Bos and Johan Ruijten. As an example of the projects we ran, take a look at this movie: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xg06K63nOE>

For more information on this conference, check (note: the website is in Dutch) <http://www.nvrd.nl/bijeenkomsten/website/themadag-beheer-openbare-ruimte#programma>

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

How to evaluate Smart City innovation: Wildcard for roundtable on October 10th

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A couple of days ago, Facebook reminded me of a two-years old movie of Johnny Georges presenting his innovative Tree T-Pee to a group of investors in the TV show Shark Tank. The product can help farmers saving cost on water and energy usage.

Johnny produces the Tree T-Pee for $3,59 and sells them for $4,50. Most of his customers buy 10.000 or more pieces of it at the same time. However, one of the potential investors thinks the price is too low. “If you don’t ask $12 at least, I cannot do marketing, I have no margin”. Johnny refuses to raise the price of the product because he sells to farmers and he is a farmer himself. Finally, another investor states: “farmers are the cornerstone of America. They cannot afford $12 each.” This investor decided to give Johnny the required $150.000 to increase the company. On July 11, 2016, Gazettereview.com stated: “As of 2016 you can get the Tree T Pee online at their website. That said they currently are only offering the black version (they have removed the white version from their listings) as their testing has shown that it is actually the best version for all types of trees. The Tree T-Pee is currently available for under $8 and appears to be doing quite well. The company currently boasts over 36,000 likes on Facebook.” It seems Tree T-Pee has been successful in the last two years.

The case of Tree T-Pee shows the difficult balancing-act we’re all in when speaking about Smart City innovation. The corporate voice of marketing as well as the entrepreneurial vision of doing good by doing business are at the table. “What is the business case (subtitle: can we make it $12 each)? How can we scale? Who is going to pay for what? What is the return on investment? When will we have the results? And “What is the bigger picture (who are the farmers), what is the need or the societal problem we want to solve by doing our business?”

Time to share
On October 10 from 16:00-21:30 CET, we as PostNL organize a roundtable meeting with different corporates, municipalities and startups. Central theme: how to organize and evaluate smart city initiatives? All participants answer the following questions:
(1) What is your vision on smart city
(2) How are you going to realize this vision
(3) How do you organize and evaluate your Smart City actions?
(4) How do you measure whether or not you’re on the right track?
(5) What are your resources (time, money, people)
(6) What are your best practices?

After the short presentations, we will jointly prepare dinner and discuss the several topics. The aim of the meeting is to share and learn from each other in order to help our organizations to improve the Smart City projects we’re running.

We have a wildcard this evening available. The meeting takes place on October 10 from 16:00-21:00 CET on Kaageiland, near Leiden. If you want to join us, please send an e-mail to Rogier.Havelaar@postnl.nl with a short description of your organization, it’s smart city activities and your motivation.

Check the video of Johnny Georges
http://diply.com/inked-mag/tree-t-pee-shark-tank-video/154365

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

How can we use the letterbox as a Smart City node?

PostNL has an incredible network of letterboxes on the street. Last September, we investigated the Smart City opportunities for this network by placing sensors measuring temperature, noise and humidity on the letterboxes.

<https://amsterdamsmartcity.com/posts/twenty-seven-pink-potential-smart-city-nodes-in-amsterdam>

I would like to receive ideas for how we can use the letterbox as install-base for sensors measuring e.g. air quality, urban heath, noise, etc.

What kind of user stories can we serve with this network of thousands of letterboxes? And what if we combine the letterbox network with our vehicles and bicycles, covering every street every day?

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Rogier Havelaar, General Manager City Logistics at PostNL, posted

Twenty-Seven Pink Potential Smart City Nodes in Amsterdam

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PostNL has an incredible network of letterboxes on the street. Last September, we investigated the Smart City opportunities for this network by placing sensors measuring temperature, noise and humidity on the letterboxes.

Central question: To what extend can the letterbox be used for smart city solutions as measuring heat stress, noise disturbance and measurements of local weather conditions?

To get an impression of the coverage the letterbox-network has, try the following experiment. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amsterdam Gay pride and the Euro pride event, we have turned twenty-seven of our orange letterboxes into Pride pink letterboxes and gave them a social value by doing so.

As a suggestion for the weekend, I would like to invite you to share your ideas on using letterboxes as Smart City nodes:

Use the locations of the pink letterboxes as a tour guide through the city center of Amsterdam. While walking, notice the short distance between the boxes and please think about what those letterboxes could be measuring, for example on a crowded day as the canal parade day traditionally is. Please share your ideas on the Amsterdam smart city community website!

Locations Pink Letterboxes
1. – 4. Stationsplein
5. Beursplein 2
6. Rokin 134
7. – 8. Muntplein 2
9. Rembrandtplein 16
10. Leidseplein 29
11. Nieuwmarkt 4
12. – 13. Singel 250
14. Korte Prinsengracht 109
15. Prinsengracht 241
16. Westermarkt 74
17. Prinsengracht 339
18. Elandsgracht 1
19. Looiersgracht 2
20. – 21. Prinsengracht 438
22. Kerkstraat 321
23. Fredriksplein 2
24. Kerstraat 461
25. Nieuwe Keizersgracht 2
26. Prins Hendrikkade 193A
27. Kattenburgerstraat 6

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