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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Risks and opportunities of digitization in healthcare

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The 21st episode of the Better cities – the contribution of digital technology-series is about priorities for digital healthcare, often referred to as eHealth.

The subject is broader than what will be discussed here. I won't talk about the degree of automation in surgery, the impressive equipment available to doctors, ranging from the high-tech chair at the dentist to the MRI scanner in hospitals, nor about researching microbes in air, water and sewerage that has exploded due to the covid pandemic. Even the relationship with the urban environment remains somewhat in the background. This simply does not play a prominent role when it comes to digitization in healthcare. The subject, on the other hand, lends itself well to illustrate ethical and social problems associated with digitization. As well as the solutions available in the meantime.

The challenge: saving costs and improving the quality of care

The Netherlands can be fortunate to be one of the countries with the best care in the world. However, there are still plenty of challenges, such as a greater focus on health instead of on disease, placing more responsibility for their own health on citizens, increasing the resilience of hospitals, paying attention to health for the poorer part of the population, whose number of healthy life years is significantly lower and, above all, limiting the increase of cost. Over the past 20 years, healthcare in the Netherlands has become 150% more expensive, not counting the costs of the pandemic. Annual healthcare costs now amount to € 100 billion, about 10% of GDP. Without intervention, this will rise to approximately €170 billion in 2040, mainly due to an aging population. In the meantime, healthcare costs are very unevenly distributed: 80% of healthcare costs go to 10% of the population.

The most important task facing the Netherlands and other rich countries is to use digitization primarily to reduce healthcare costs, while not forgetting the other challenges mentioned. This concerns a series of - often small - forms of digital care. According to McKinsey, savings of €18 billion by 2030 are within reach, if only with forms of digitization with proven effect. Most gains can be made by reducing the administrative burden and shifting costs to less specialized centers, to home treatment and to prevention.

Information provision

There are more than 300,000 health sites and apps on the Internet, which provide comprehensive information about diseases, options for diagnosis and self-treatment. More and more medical data can also be viewed online. Often the information on apps is incomplete resulting in misdiagnosis. Doctors in the Netherlands especially recommend the website Thuisarts.nl, which they developed themselves.

Many apps use gamification, such as exercises to improve memory. A good example of digital social innovation is Mirrorable, a program to treat children with motor disorders because of brain injury. This program also enables contact between parents whose inputs continuously help to improve exercises.

Process automation

Process automation in healthcare resembles in many respects automation elsewhere, such as personnel, logistics and financial management. More specific is the integrated electronic patient file. The Framework Act on Electronic Data Exchange in Healthcare, adopted in 2021, obliges healthcare providers to exchange data electronically and prescribes standards. However, data exchange will be minimal and will only take place at a decentralized level to address privacy concerns. The complexity of the organization of health care and the constant discussions about the content of such a system were also immense obstacles. That's a pity because a central system lowers costs and increases quality. Meanwhile, new technological developments guarantee privacy with great certainty. For example, the use of federated (decentralized) forms of data storage combined with blockchain. TNO conducts groundbreaking research in this area. The institution applies the principles of federated learning along with the application of multi-party computation technology. These innovative technologies enable learning from sensitive data from multiple sources without sharing this data.

Video calling

The recent eHealth monitor of the RIVM shows that by 2021 almost half of all doctors and nurses had had contact with patients with video calling, while this hardly happened in 2019. Incidentally, this concerns a relatively small group of patients. In the US there was an even larger increase, which has now been converted into a sharp decline. It seems that in the US primary health care is reinventing itself. Walgreens, the largest US drugstore chain, will begin offering primary care in 1000 of its stores. Apparently, in many cases, physical contact with a doctor is irreplaceable, even if (or perhaps because) the doctor is relatively anonymous.

Video calling is not only important for care provider, but also for informal caregivers, family and friends and help to combat loneliness. Virtual reality (metaverse!) will further expand the possibilities for this. TNO is also active here: The TNO media lab is developing a scalable communication platform in which the person involved (patient or client), using only an upright iPad, has the impression that the doctor, district nurse or visitor is sitting at the table or on the couch right in front.

Self-diagnosis

The effectiveness of a remote consultation is of course served if the patient has already made a few observations him- or herself. 8% of patients with chronic conditions already do this. There is a growing range of self-tests available for, for example, fertility, urinary tract infections, kidney disorders and of course Covid-19. There are also home devices such as smart thermometers, mats that detect diabetic foot complications, and blood pressure meters; basically, everything that doctors often routinely do during a visit. The GGD AppStore provides an overview of relevant and reliable apps in the field of health.

Wearables, for example built into an i-watch, can collect part of the desired data, store it for a longer period and, if necessary, exchange it with the care provider.

More advanced are the mobile diagnosis boxes for emergency care by nurses on location, such as ambulances. With a fast Internet connection (5G), specialist care providers can watch if necessary.

A small but growing group of patients, doctors, and researchers with substantial financial support from Egon Musk sees the future mainly in chip implants. This would allow not only more complete diagnoses to be made, but also treatments to be carried out. Neuralink has developed a brain implant that improves communication with speech and hearing-impaired people. The Synchron brain implant helps people with brain disorders perform simple movements. For the time being, the resistance to brain implants is high.

Remote monitoring

Meanwhile, all these low-threshold amenities can lead us to become fixated on disease rather than on health. But what if we never had to worry about our health again? Instead, the local health center watches over our health thanks to wearables: Our data is continuously monitored and analyzed using artificial intelligence. They are compared with millions of diagnostic data from other patients. By comparing patterns, diseases can be predicted in good time, followed by automated suggestions for self-treatment or advice to consult a doctor. Until then, we have probably experienced nothing but vague complaints ourselves. Wouldn't that be an attractive prospect?

Helsinki is experimenting with a Health Benefit Analysis tool that anonymously examines patients' medical records to evaluate the care they have received so far. The central question here is can the municipality proactively approach people based on the health risk that has come to light because of this type of analysis?

Medics participating in a large-scale study by the University of Chicago and the company Verify were amazed at the accuracy with which algorithms were able to diagnose patients and predict diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer. In a recent article, oncologist Samuel Volchenboom described that it is painful to note that the calculations came from Verify, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which not only used medical data (with patients’ consent), but also all other data that sister company Google already had stored about them. He adds that it is unacceptable that owning and using such valuable data becomes the province of only a few companies.

Perhaps even more problematic is that these predictions are based in part on patterns in the data that the researchers can't fully explain. It is therefore argued that the use of these types of algorithms should be banned. But how would a patient feel if such an algorithmic recommendation is the last straw? It is better to invest in more transparent artificial intelligence.

Implementing digital technology

Both many patients and healthcare professionals still have doubts about the added value of digital technology. The media reports new cases of data breaches and theft every day. Most people are not very confident that blockchain technology, among other things, can prevent this. Most medical specialists doubt whether ICT will reduce their workload. It is often thought of as some additional thing. Numerous small-scale pilot projects are taking place, which consume a lot of energy, but which are rarely scaled up. The supply of digital healthcare technologies exceeds their use.

Digital medicine will have to connect more than at present with the needs of health professionals and patients. In addition to concerns about privacy, the latter are especially afraid of further reductions in personal attention. The idea of a care robot is terrifying them. As should be the case with all forms of digitization, there is a need for a broadly supported vision and setting priorities based on that.

Against this background, a plea for even more medical technology in our part of the world, including e-health, is somewhat embarrassing. Growth in healthy years due to investment in health care in developing countries will far exceed the impact of the same investment in wealthy countries.

Nevertheless, it is desirable to continue deliberately on the chosen path, whereby expensive experiments for the benefit of a small group of patients have less priority in my opinion than investments in a healthy lifestyle, prevention, and self-reliance. Healthcare cannot and should not be taken over by robots; digitization and automation are mainly there to support and improve the work of the care provider and make it more satisficing and efficient.

One of the chapters in my e-book Future cities, always humane, smart if helpful, also deals with health care and offers examples of digital tools. In addition, it pays much more contextual information about the global health situation, particularly in cities. You can download by following the link below. The Dutch edition is here.

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Smart grids: where social and digital innovation meet

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The 20th episode of the Better Cities - The contribution of digital technology-series is about electrification, as part of climate adaptation. Based on this theme, both the role of digital technology and the relationship between digital and social innovation will be illustrated.

The Dutch government has dug deep into its pockets to get citizens and companies to cover their roofs with solar panels and to encourage the construction of solar meadows. Favorable tax facilities have been created and a generous so-called ‘salderingsregeling’ has been set up, and with success.

Solar energy and grid overload

Most citizens are very satisfied with solar panels and their impact on the energy bill. So far, no audit office has checked what the government pays for a kilowatt hour of electricity that citizens produce on their roofs. This includes the costs of the aforementioned (tax) facilities and subsidies, as well as the billions in investments in grid reinforcement resulting from the large-scale (re)delivery to the grid of decentral generated energy. In fact, when there is more supply than demand for electricity on the grid, the wholesale price of electricity is negative. In that case, thanks to the ‘salderingsregeling’, the electricity company pays back the full amount and also has to pay(!) companies that buy electricity at that time!

And now? Now the government suffers the consequences and is limiting the growth in the number of solar panels. Many requests for the large-scale generation of solar energy are waiting for a license because the electricity grid in large parts of the Netherlands is overloaded.

There are three ways to solve this problem. The first is to increase the capacity of the high-voltage grid. The second is large-scale storage of electricity, both for the short and the long term. The third is network management. The least elegant solution here is curtailment which means that the capacity of all solar meadows and wind farms is only used for 70%. A better alternative is the construction of smart grids; this is what this article is about. Smart grids have more to do with digitization than with extra cables. *A smart grid is an energy system in which PV panels, electric cars, heat pumps, household appliances, large but also small-scale storage systems and substations are intelligently connected.*However, more attention to energy storage is desperately needed too and high-voltage grid reinforcement will also be inevitable locally.

From centralized to decentralized electricity supply

Electricity infrastructure around the world is designed for centralized electricity generation, characterized by one-way traffic from producer to consumer. Now that many consumers have also become producers ('prosumers') and solar meadows and wind farms are being developed in many places in addition to the usual power plants, the network structure of the future must be decentralized. It will consist of two or three levels. Together, these will ensure a stable system in which much more electricity is used than today. This new structure is at the forefront of development. In 2016, approximately $47 billion was spent worldwide on infrastructure and software to make the electricity system more flexible, integrate renewable energy and better serve customers. The book Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy System (2018) is an excellent overview of these developments. This book can here be downloaded for free.

Most prosumers supply an average of 65% of the generated electricity back to the main grid. Own storage capacity is part of the solution and creates a mini grid that significantly reduces the need to supply back. Otherwise, there are times when the main grid benefits from supplying back locally generated power. Therefore, the next step is for main and mini grids to communicate with each other. In this case we speak of a smart grid: The management of energy production in large-scale power stations (including wind and solar parks) will then take place in conjunction with the regulation of the inflow and outflow of electricity from the main grid to the mini grids. This may also include signals to households to charge or discharge batteries, turn on the boiler, postpone charging the car or stop the production of energy. An automated monitoring and control system is a necessary enabler here.

The exchange of data between mini grids and the main grid has many privacy aspects, especially if the grid operator can influence what goes on 'behind the meter'. An intermediate layer between main and mini grids offers a solution. We then speak of a microgrid. This is a kind of switch between the main grid and the micro grid, that enables the micro grid even to function autonomously in the event of a failure of the main grid.

microgrid contains three elements:

1. Installation(s) for local energy production for more than one user (usually a neighborhood): solar panels, wind turbines, cogeneration, heat pump(s), biomass power station, hydropower turbine and possibly an emergency production system (generator).

2. A storage system: home and neighborhood batteries and in the future also supercapacitors and chemical latent heat storage.

3. A digital management system to guarantee the balance between the production of and the demand for electricity, to determine how much energy is taken from or returned to the main grid and which calculates the costs and benefits per household.

The micro-grid

In a micro grid, households can exchange their surpluses and shortages of electricity without the direct intervention of the grid operator or the electricity producers. These are solely related to the surpluses and deficits of the entire microgrid, eliminating the need to interfere in the mini grids of individual households. Thanks to the real-time monitoring of electricity production and consumption, the price of electricity can be determined minute by minute. For example, the households that are part of the microgrid can agree to purchase as much electricity as possible when the price is low. At such moments, home batteries, electric cars, any neighborhood battery and boilers and hot water barrels will be charged and heated. This can be done fully automated. For example, the Powermatcher, an open-source application developed by TNO, which now employs 1000 people in the Netherlands. This video illustrates how a microgrid works.

A microgrid gains extra value if the users form an energy cooperative. Here it is possible to decide about the algorithms that regulate the circulation of the current in the microgrid. A cooperative can also take care of the management and maintenance of the solar panels of other collective facilities such as a neighborhood battery, local energy sources (wind or solar park or geothermal heat). The cooperative is also a good means of negotiating with the network operator and the energy company.

The virtual power plant

By linking heat pump technology, energy generation and energy storage at the district level, a significant step can be made with the energy transition. Here are some examples.

The Amsterdam virtual power plant
An almost classic example of a microgrid is the Amsterdam virtual power plant. Here, 50 households produce electricity with solar panels, store it in-house and trade it according to availability when the price on the energy market is most favorable.

Future Living Berlin
This is a nice small-scale practical example developed by Panasonic. Future Living Berlin consists of a neighborhood with apartment buildings for a total of 90 households. The residential buildings are equipped with 600 solar panels that, together with a collective battery system, provide a constant flow of sustainable energy. Among others, to power the seventeen central air/water heat pumps, of which two to five per residential building are installed in a cascade and provide heating and hot tap water. The shared cars and communal washing machines are good for the environment, and they also promote neighborly contact. The Internet of Things also plays a role in controlling the heat pumps. Installers maintain remote access to these systems via a cloud platform.

Tesla's Virtual Power Plant
Tesla has built a virtual power plant in Australia for 50,000 households. Every household has solar panels, with a capacity of 5 kilowatts and a Tesla Powerwall battery of 13.5 kilowatt-hours. As a result, the power station has a capacity of 250 megawatts and a storage capacity of 675 megawatt-hours. Here too, every household charges the battery and possibly the car with self-generated energy and with cheap energy if the supply is large, and they supply the energy they have left to the electricity companies at the market price. In this way the participants save 20% of the annual energy costs.

The ultimate step: autarky
Companies that want to use solar panels and supply the surplus of energy back to the grid are also increasingly encountering the capacity limitations of the main grid. The result is that an increasing number of businesses take power supply into their own hands and even completely refraining from being connected to the grid. Commercial solutions for local virtual power grids are now available, for which companies such as Alfen and Joulz are involved. One of the options is Energy-as-a-service, where the business customer does not invest in an installation but pay a fixed amount per month.

The use of blockchain

Blockchain enables exchanging surplus energy between prosumers without human intervention. Brooklyn Microgrid is a 'benefit corporation', to which every resident who has solar panels can connect and buy energy directly from or sell energy to another user (P2P), without the intervention of the electricity company. Blockchain provides a secure, transparent, and decentralized ledger of all energy production and consumption data and transactions based on 'smart contracts'. These are self-executing programs that automate the exchange of value (here, the amount of electricity) on bilaterally agreed terms. Home and neighborhood batteries, individual and collective heat pumps and charging stations for cars can also be connected to this system.

A similar pilot with blockchain is taking place in the southern German town of Wilpoldsried. Project partners Siemens, grid operator AllgäuNetz, Kempten University of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) have jointly developed the platform and an app, considering the given load capacity of the grid.

Digital twins: need for oversight

Smart grids, ranging from local mini and micro grids to regional applications, are a substantial alternative to grid reinforcement. At the same time, they create new electricity flows, especially where there is a direct exchange between smart grids and the main grid. That is why there is a growing need to map these flows and regulate them where necessary. Digital twins can be helpful here.

Delft University of Technology has developed a small digital twin for a quarter of the Dutch high-voltage grid. This will gradually be expanded to encompass the entire network. To this end, the existing high-voltage hall of TU Delft will be converted into an Electrical Sustainable Power Lab, which will mirror the electricity network, including high-voltage pylons, sources of wind and solar energy, energy storage and distribution networks. This allows, for example, to simulate the effect of linking a new wind farm. As a result, it provides an overview of all bottlenecks and thus lays the foundation for better network management or the choice for grid reinforcement.

But there are also many promising developments at the local level. For that we must be in the US for the time being. The Cityzenith company, together with Arizona State University, has developed the SmartWorldOS digital twin and is making it available to Phoenix, Las Vegas and New York. Each of these cities is building a digital twin of a part of the center. The twins comprise all the buildings, transportation systems and infrastructure of the affected areas and are powered by sensors sent over a 5G network. They aggregate 3D (space) and 4D (time) data about the actual energy use and visualize and analyze it. Subsequently, the impact of other forms of lighting, heating, but also electricity generation with solar panels on the roof, on the facades and in the windows can be simulated and measured and a decision can be made about their implementation.

I have compiled a dossier on many aspects of the use of solar energy. This dossier deepens this article in several respects. Innovations in solar panels, the use of window glass to generate energy, the growth of solar energy in the Netherlands and the storage of electricity are discussed. Those who are interested can find this file by following the link below.

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Digital tools as enablers of a circular economy. The Amsterdam case

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In the 19th episode of the Better cities - the contribution of digital technology-series, I address the question of how digital technology can help in the long road to a circular society.

The contribution of digital technology becomes most visible when viewed in conjunction with other policy instruments and actions. That is why in this episode Amsterdam is in the spotlight; this city has been pursuing a consistent circular policy from 2015 onwards.

Why is a circular economy necessary?

European countries together need an average of 2.9 copies of planet Earth to meet the needs for raw materials. But even one Earth has finite resources, and it is therefore obvious that more and more countries aim to be circular by 2050. The circular processing ladder contains a range of options with the lowest step recovery of energy from materials unsuitable for re-use and furthermore recycling, repurposing, remanufacturing, renovation, repair, reuse, reduction, reconsideration to rejection.

A circular economy is an economic and industrial system that eliminates waste and takes the reusability of products and raw materials and the regenerative capacity of natural resources as a starting point, minimizes value destruction in the total system and pursues value creation in every link of the system. In this context, the term cradle-to-cradle design is often referred to. This is done in terms of material flows and the preservation of values, so that in the long term there is no longer any need for an influx of virgin materialsMaersk has developed a cradle-to-cradle passport, a first for the shipping industry, consisting of a database of all ship components, including all the steel, for recycling, reuse and remanufacturing of new ships or their parts.

The Digital Sustainability-memorandum is considering digitization as an enabler on the way to a circular economy. A fourfold distinction is made in this regard: (1) the coordination of supply and demand of materials, (2) facilitating maintenance and repairs, (3) improving the production process, and (4) supporting partners in chain cooperation. Examples of all these options are discussed below.

Amsterdam and the realization of circular principles

Amsterdam's ambition is to use 50% less virgin raw materials by 2030 compared to the current situation. This goal is also very important for achieving its climate targets: 63% of the CO2 emissions for which the city is responsible come from products and materials that are produced abroad. The municipal government can only partly influence this steam. That is why the policy focuses on three areas where the city has most influence, namely food and organic residual flows, consumption and the built environment.

Amsterdam published its first policy plan Amsterdam Circular: Vision and roadmap for the city and regionin 2015. The emphasis was on organic waste and the built environment. It included 75 action points and its approach was positively evaluated in 2018 and a new report was published. It was decided to continue with the same emphasis with the addition of food and consumption. The addition of consumption was obvious, because Amsterdam had been making a strong case for the sharing economy for some time.

Shortly after the publication of the new report, Kate Raworth’s donut-principles made their entrance. Remarkably, none of the previous reports contain a reference to her work on the donut economics. In May 2019, the first fruit of the collaboration with Kate Raworth appeared, building on the report from the previous year. The collaboration resulted in a new report Building blocks for the new Amsterdam Circular 2020-2025 strategy, involving many stakeholders from the sectors, food and organic residual flows, consumption, and construction. It resulted in 17 building blocks, named 'development directions'.

This report was based on the original 2012 publication on the donut economy. However, there turned out to be one pitfall. The original donut model was designed for global-level applications, which, according to Kate Raworth, cannot be directly traced to the urban level. The social implications of behavior in one city not only affect this city itself, but also the rest of the world. The same applies to the ecological aspects.

As a next step Kate Raworth invited representatives from Amsterdam, Philadelphia and Portland to join a task force and discover what a city-level donut model looks like. In each of these cities, dozens of officials and citizens participated in an interactive process. The result was a new model that uses four lenses to view urban activities: The first and second resemble the original lenses but applied at the city level, for example, the impact of local industry on local nature. The third is how activities in a certain city had a negative social impact on the rest of the world, think for example of clothing, produced under poor conditions. The fourth is the impact of local actions on nature worldwide.

These activities resulted in a new publication, The city donut for Amsterdam. It is an instrument for change that can be applied more broadly than to circular policy. In this publication, the new donut model is mainly used as a conceptual model. Instead of exact calculations, snapshots are collected as illustrations.

While city representatives were busy developing the urban donut model, the work towards the circular city continued unabated, resulting in the publication of the final circular strategy for the period 2020 – 2025 and the action plan for the period 2020 – 2021 at almost the same time. In terms of content, these plans are in line with the publication of the building blocks-report from 2019, including the application of the 'old' donut model from 2012.

In the following, I use both the strategy and the action plan to show the role of digital tools. At the end, I come back to the future role of the city donut.

Digital techniques in the circular strategy of Amsterdam 2020 – 2025

I align with the three value chains: food and organic residual flows, consumption and the built environment that are central to the strategy. Three ambitions are formulated for each of these three, further detailed in several action directions, each containing several projects, most with measurable results to attain in 2021. In addition, a couple of projects are described, that bare related to types of companies, institutions and the port. Finally, there are overarching projects, in which I will again pay attention to digitization, also because the role of the city donut will become visible here.

Below I briefly describe the three value chains, name the three ambitions for each, and give references to digital tools that will play a role within each of the three value chains.

Value chain food and organic residual flows

The municipality wants to combat food waste and reuse organic residual flows as much as possible. The role of regionally produced (plant-based) food will be strengthened in line with the Amsterdam food strategy. In realizing its objectives, the municipality participates in an extensive European project, Rumore.

The three ambitions are: (V1) Short food chains provide a robust, sustainable sensory system, (V2) Healthy and sustainable food for Amsterdammers and (V3) Food and organic residual flows.

Examples of digital tools

• GROWx vertical farm is a farm that aims to achieve maximum returns by applying artificial intelligence to the indoor cultivation of food crops, among other things.

• Restore is a measurement system and simulation model for Amsterdam and surrounding municipalities and companies that provides insight into the financial, ecological, and social effects of various forms of composting and bio-fermentation, including the use of biomass.

• The InstockMarket platform will map (surplus) food flows and - if possible - predict them so that the catering industry can anticipate this when purchasing. The data from this project will be linked to the circular economy data platform

• The Platform www.Vanamsterdamsevloer.nl  makes all local food initiatives (including food events) visible and residents of Amsterdam can share news about food and urban agriculture.

Value chain consumer goods

The emphasis is on consumer goods that contribute substantially to the depletion of rare raw materials, their production is polluting and often takes place under poor working conditions. In addition, the impact on climate change is significant. The emphasis is on electronics, textiles, and furniture because repair is also possible in each of these cases.

Furthermore, a lot of profit can be made by good collection and reuse through sharing and exchange.

Here too, a multi-year research project funded by the European Commission is important. The Reflow project maps data on flows of materials and develops processes and technology to support their implementation.

The ambitions are :(C1) The municipality is setting a good example and will consume less; (C2) Together we make the most of what we have and (C3) Amsterdam makes the most of discarded products.

Examples of digital tools

• The municipality will develop digital tools within the (purchasing) systems that support civil officers in circular procurement.

• The West-district supports www.warewesten.nl. This website brings together the sustainable fashion addresses of Amsterdam-West.

• Using artificial intelligence, among other things, it is being investigated how the lifespan of various goods can be extended so that they do not end up with bulky waste. This can be used, for example, on the municipal website to offer the option of first offering goods for sale or for giving via existing online platforms before they are registered as bulky waste.

• Indirectly, it is worth noting that the municipality wants to make the use of ICT more sustainable by purchasing less equipment (for example through 'hardware as a service'), extending the lifespan of equipment and reducing its energy consumption.

Value chain built environment

This value chain was also chosen because the municipality has an important voice in what and where is built and in the development of the public space. The municipality itself is also a major user of buildings.

In terms of the built environment, circular construction can be achieved through large-scale reuse of construction waste. By ensuring that buildings can be used for more purposes, their demolition can be slowed down. Sustainable materials can also be used in the design of public spaces – from roads and bridges to playgrounds. In addition, consideration could be given to the  climate-adaptive design of the city, resulting in cleaner air and dealing with increasing heat and rainfall.

The ambitions are: (G1): We do circular development together; (G2) The municipality sets a good example and uses circular criteria; (G3) We deal circularly with the existing city.

Examples of digital tools

• Introduction of large-scale application of material passports to have the most complete information possible on material use in all phases of the life cycle of buildings. This is linked to national plans, among other things by providing all materials with an OR code.

• Research into the possibilities of a (national) online materials marketplace. Such a marketplace will influence (local) material hubs, such as the Amstel III construction hub and the creation of circular business cases.

• Providing insight into the supply (demolition, renovation) and demand (new construction, renovation) of circular building materials and thus of circular material flows.

• Creating a digital twin of the public space and the subsurface to be able to furnish and maintain it functionally and circularly.

• Research in digital production due to the rapid development of digital production techniques and their applications, such as robots and 3D printing.

• Research into making the construction, equipment and water and energy consumption of data centers more sustainable.

• Research into which data about residents and users of buildings can be made public and which data should remain private.

The municipality could further simplify the process of permit applications by digitizing everything, enabling applicants to upload the necessary municipal data and construction drawings and calculating the BREAAM score. This applies to both new and renovated buildings.

Overarching theme: Data platform and monitor circular economy

On the road to a circular economy, a lot of data will become available and just as much data is needed to help citizens, companies, and institutions to make sustainable choices and to determine whether the goal of 100% circularity by 2050 is within reach. That is why a data platform and monitor is being developed. This numerically maps all material, recycle, residual and waste flows that enter, leave, and go around the city. This also makes it possible to calculate the impact on CO2 emissions. The data from the material passports and the materials marketplace are also integrated herein, if possible. The monitor also includes social aspects such as health, education, and equality. Relevant data will be open and accessible, so that it can be used for the development of new innovations and applications by the municipality and third parties, also to connect with other urban transitions.

The monitor connects to the four lenses of the city donut of Amsterdam and will collect the data that is currently missing to provide full quantitative insight. This also concerns the environmental impact of all materials that Amsterdam imports for its own consumption. Where the city donut is currently only a partially quantified, the monitor will continuously provide insight into whether the municipality is staying within the ecological preconditions or where it falls short with regard to the minimum social requirements.

Amsterdam's circular strategy and the resulting action agenda is ambitious and will inspire many other cities. Because many projects are small- and medium scaled, it is not yet possible to assess to what extent the strategy and action agenda help to achieve the targets (50% circularity in 2030 and 100% in 2050). Commitment to the development of the monitor is therefore crucial and the municipality will also have to keep an open eye on the parallel actions that citizens, the business community, the port and other institutions must take to achieve their share. After all, becoming circular encompasses much more than food and organic waste, consumption, and construction.

To document the process of the City of Amsterdam's adaptation of circular policy and the contribution of Kate Raworth, I have put together a brief dossier. This includes references to (copies of) all relevant reports and an indication of their content. This file can be downloaded by following the link below.:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lntf8izqz7ghvqp/Dossier%20circularity.docx?dl=0

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Will MaaS reduce the use of cars?

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In the 18th episode of the Better Cities - The contribution of technology-series, I answer the question how digital technology in the form of MaaS (Mobility as a Service) will help reduce car use, which is the most important intervention of improving the livability of cities, in addition to providing citizens with a decent income.

Any human activity that causes 1.35 million deaths worldwide, more than 20 million injuries, total damage of $1,600 billion, consumes 50% of urban space and contributes substantially to global warming would be banned immediately. This does not apply to traffic, because it is closely linked to our way of life and to the interests of motordom. For example, in his books Fighting traffic and Autonorame: The illusory promise of high-tech driving, Peter Horton refers to the coteri of the automotive industry, the oil companies and befriended politicians who have been stimulating car use for a century. Without interventions, global car ownership and use will grow exponentially over the next 30 years.

Reduction of car use

In parallel with the growth of car use, trillions have been invested worldwide in ever new and wider roads and in the management of traffic flows with technological means.

It has repeatedly been confirmed that the construction of more roads and traffic-regulating technology have a temporary effect and then further increase car use. Economists call this induced demand. The only effective counter-measures are impeding car use and to discourage the perceived need to use the car, preferably in a non-discriminatory way.

Bringing housing, shopping, and employment closer together (15-minute city) reduces the need to travel by car, but this is a long-term perspective. The most effective policy in the short term is to reduce parking options at home, at work and near shopping facilities and always prioritizing alternative modes of transport (walking, micro-mobility, and public transport). Copenhagen and Amsterdam have been investing in bicycle infrastructure for years and are giving cyclists a green track in many places at the expense of car traffic.

For several years now, Paris has also been introducing measures to discourage car traffic by 1,400 kilometers of cycle paths, ban on petrol and diesel cars in 2030, redesign of intersections with priority for pedestrians, 200 kilometers of extension of the metro system and closure of roads and streets. Meanwhile, car use has fallen from 61% in 2001 to 35% now. Milan has similar plans and in Berlin a group is preparing a referendum in 2023 with the aim of making an area car-free larger than Manhattan. Even in Manhattan and Brooklyn, there is a strong movement to reduce car use through a substantial shift of road capacity from cars to bicycles, pedestrians, and buses.

Public transport

Because of the pandemic, the use of public transport has decreased significantly worldwide as many users worked from home, could not go to school, took the bicycle or a car. Nevertheless, cities continue to promote public transport as a major strategy to reduce car use. In many places in the world, including in Europe, urban development has resulted in a high degree of dispersion of and between places to live, shop, and work. The ease of bridging the 'last mile' will contribute significantly to the increase in the use of public transport. While bicycles play an important role in this in the Netherlands, the ideas elsewhere are based on all forms of 'dockless micromobility’.

Autonomous transport

From a technological point of view, autonomous passenger transport involves type four or five at a taxonomy of automated cars. This includes the Waymo brand developed by Google. In some places in the US, these cars are allowed to drive with a supervisor ('safety driver') on board. Type 5 (fully autonomous driving under all circumstances) does not yet exist at all, and it is highly questionable whether this will ever happen. Besides, it is questionable too whether the automotive industry aspires building such a car at a substantial scale. Given their availability, it is expected that many people will forgo purchasing them and instead use them as a shared car or as a (shared or not) taxi. This will significantly reduce car ownership. To sell as many cars as possible, it is expected that the automotive industry will aim for level three automation, which means that the car can take over the actions of the driver, who must stay vigilant.

The impact on cities of autonomous shared cars and (shared) taxis is highly uncertain. Based on traffic data in the Boston area and surveys of residents, a study by the Boston Consultancy Group shows that approximately 30% of all transport movements (excluding walking) will take place in an autonomous car. But it also appears that users of public transport are a significant part of this group. Most people interviewed were scared using an unmanned shared taxi. Without sharing, there will be more cars on the road and more traffic jams in large parts of the city than now. A scenario study in the city of Porto (Portugal) that assumes that autonomous cars are mainly used as shared taxis and public transport is not cannibalized shows a significant decrease in car traffic.

Considering refraining from car use

Designing an efficient transport system is not that difficult; its acceptance by people is. Many see the car as an extension of the home, in which - even more than at home - they can listen to their favorite music, smoke, make phone calls or meet other persons unnoticed. Considering this, the step to alternative transport such as walking, cycling, or using public transport is a big one.

Most people will only decide to do so if external circumstances give sufficient reason. Hybrid working can lead to people wondering whether keeping an expensive (second) car is still responsible and cycling – in good weather – is also an option. Or they notice that because of restrictions driving a car loses part of its attractiveness and that public transport is not that bad after all. Some employers (Arcadis, for example) also encourage other forms of mobility than the (electric) lease car. <i>This lays the foundation for a 'mind set' in which people begin to break down their mobility needs into different components, each of which is best served by another mode of transport.</i> As soon as they realize that the car is an optimal solution only for part of the journeys, they realize that the price is shockingly high and a shared car is cheaper. For other journeys, a (shared) bicycle or public transport may be considered. Against this background, the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) must be placed.

Mobility as a Service: MaaS

MaaS is an app that offers comprehensive door-to-door proposals for upcoming journeys, ranging from the nearest shared bicycle or scooter for the first mile or alternatively a (shared) taxi, the best available connection to public transport, the best transfer option, to the best option for the last mile. For daily users of the same route, the app provides information about alternatives in the event of disruptions. In the event of a delay in the journey, for example on the way to the airport, an alternative will be arranged if necessary. No worries about departure times, mode of transport, tickets, reservations, and payment. At least, ideally.

These kinds of apps are being developed in many places in the world and by various companies and organizations. First, Big Tech is active, especially Google. Intel also seems to have all the components for a complete MaaS solution, after taking over Moovit, Mobileye and Cubic. In Europe, it is mainly local and regional authorities, transport companies (Transdec, RATP, NS) and the automotive industry (Daimler-Benz and in the Netherlands PON).

The Netherlands follows its own course. The national MaaS program is based on public-private partnership. Seven pilots are ready to take-off. Each of these pilots places a different emphasis: Sustainability, accessibility of rural areas, congestion reduction and public transport promotion, integration of target group transport, public transport for the elderly and cross-border transport.

The pandemic has delayed its start significantly. The Gaiyo pilot in Utrecht (Leidsche Rijn) is the only one that is active for some time, and the results are encouraging. Apart from the national MaS pilots, the RiVier initiative was launched in January 2019; a joint venture of NS, RET and HTM in collaboration with Siemens.

Worth mentioning is an initiative from the European Union (European Institute for Innovation and technology - Urban Mobility), Eindhoven University of Technology, Achmea and Capgemini. 21 partners have now joined, including the municipality of Amsterdam. The aim is a pan-European open mobility service platform, called Urban Mobility Operating System (UMOS). The project aims to provide MaaS for the whole of Europe in the long term. UMOS expects local providers to join this initiative. Unlike most other initiatives, this is a non-profit platform. For the other providers, profitability will mainly be a long-term perspective.

The development of the MaaS app is complex from a technological and organizational point of view. It is therefore not surprising that five years after the first landing there are only partial solutions. <b>The basis for a successful app is the presence of a varied and high-quality range of transport facilities, a centralized information and sales system and standardization of various data and interfaces of all transport companies involved.</b> So far, they have not always been willing to share data. A company like London Transport wants to maintain direct contact with customers, and Uber and Lyft don't want to hand over the algorithms they use to calculate their variable fare. This type of data is indispensable for realizing a real-time offer of several door-to-door transport alternatives for every conceivable route, including pricing, and purchasing tickets. It is hoped that licensing authorities will mandate the provision of all data required for a fully functioning MaaS platform.

One of the most balanced MaaS applications is MaaX developed by Capgemini, the Paris Transport Authority and the RATP. This is comparable to the NS and OV9292 app, supplemented by options for carpooling, taxi transport, shared cars, shared bicycles, scooters, electric scooters, and parking.

Does MaaS is viable?

I believe that MaaS as such will encourage very few motorists to refrain from owning a car. This will mainly have to be done through measures that impede car use or reduce the need for it. Nevertheless, MaaS is useful for those who have just decided to look for alternatives. The app also has added-value for users of public transport, for instance if information in the event of disruptions is made available timely.

It is therefore clear to me that this app should be made available as a form of service, funded by the transport providers and the government and can make significant savings in infrastructure costs if car use decreases.

The above deepens two essays included in my e-book Cities of the Future: Always humane, smart if helpful. The first essay Livability and traffic – The walkable city connects insights about livability with different forms of passenger transport and policy. The second essay Towards zero road casualties: The traffic-safe city discusses policies to make traffic safer and the effect of 'self-driving' cars on road safety. The e-book can be downloaded here by following the link below.

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How can digital tools help residents to regain ownership of the city?

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The 17th edition of the Better cities - the role of digital technology series deals with strengthening local democracy through digitization.

In 1339, Ambrogio Lorenzetti completed his famous series of six paintings in the Town Hall of the Italian city of Siena, entitled The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. The above excerpt refers to the characteristics of good government: putting the interests of citizens first, renouncing self-interest, and integrity. But also developing a vision together with all those involved, transparency, justice and efficiently carrying out its many tasks.

In this article, I will discuss citizens’ involvement in government. The complaint is widely heard that democracy is reduced to voting once every few years and even then, it is not clear in advance what the policy of a new (city) government will be, due to the need to form coalitions. Digitization can substantially strengthen the citizen's input.

Being well-informed: the foundation of democracy

Digital channels are an excellent way to inform citizens, but digital disinformation and deepfakes are also on the rise. In this regard, YouTube has become notorious. Political microtargeting via Facebook has an uncontrollable impact and ruins the political debate. On the other hand, the 'Stemwijzer' app is a well-respected tool of informing citizens. Meanwhile, this tool has been adopted by a number of countries.

There are many other valuable digital sources of information, which increase the transparency of politics, for example by disclosing petty bribery, 'creative' accounting and preferential treatment. Prozorro (Ukraine) is a website that takes tenders away from the private sphere, My Society                                                                                                     (UK) is an extensive collection of open source tools to hold those in power to account, Zašto (Serbia) is a website that compares statements of politicians with their actions and Funky Citizens (Romania) exposes irresponsible government spending, miscarriages of justice and forms of indecent political conduct.

Voting

Every time I am amazed at the fumbling with huge ballot-papers that then must be counted by hand.  Estonia is leading the way here; people vote digitally from home without security risks. If this is not possible in other countries, then I have my doubts about the security of other digital applications
Estonia is the best example of far-reaching digitization of public and private services. Not only the usual municipal services, but also applying for building permits, registering for schools, health affairs, banking, taxes, police, and voting. All these things happen via one digital platform - X-road – that meets the highest security requirements. Data is stored in a decentral way via end-to-end encryption using blockchain technology. Citizens manage their own data.

More than voting

There is a widespread desire among citizens for greater involvement in political decision-making. This includes referenda and popular assemblies, which still take place in Swiss municipalities. But there is little room here for the exchange of views, let alone discussion. Moreover, several authors try to improve direct democracy by bypassing the role of political parties. In his book Against elections (2013), the Flemish political scientist David van Reybrouck proposes appointing representatives based on weighted lottery. A lottery alone does not yet provide a representative group, because never more than 10% of the chosen people respond to the invitation. What remains is a predominantly indigenous group, over 50 years of age with higher education, interested in politics.
The strength of citizens' forums is that they enable deliberation between independent citizens rather than representatives of political parties, who are bound in every way by coalition agreements.

Van Reybrouck’s ideas have been adopted in different ways and in different places, but always as a complement to representative democracy. Citizens' forums have achieved good results in Ireland. There are also several examples in the Netherlands. The biggest bottleneck has been the acceptance of the results by established political bodies. In April 2021, a committee led by Alex Brenninkmeijer advised positive about the value of citizens' forums in climate policy in an advisory report to the House of Representatives.

Digital instruments

Another interesting option is liquid democracy. Here, like direct democracy, citizens can vote on all issues. However, they can also transfer their vote to someone else, who they believe is more involved. This person can also transfer the received mandates. With secure IT, this is easy to organize. Examples of useful apps include Adhocracy (Germany), a platform for participation, collaboration and idea generation, Licracy, a virtual people's parliament, Sovrin, an open source decentralized protocol for any kind of organization. Insights Management Tool is an application for converting opinions of a large amounts of citizens into 'insights' that can benefit politicians. I will add a few more applications, which are mainly intended for cities: EngageCitizens (many South European cities including Braga, Portugal), an application that enables citizens to submit ideas and discuss them in virtual discussion groups, Active Citizens (Moscow), an application where residents can participate in referendums, CitizenLab, a medium for citizens to discuss ideas about local issues. Finally, I refer to the comprehensive applications Decide Madrid and Decidem (Barcelona), which I have discussed elsewhere.
All these apps increase the involvement of part of the citizens in government. These are usually highly educated. Meetings are held in Madrid and Barcelona to let underprivileged residents also make their voices heard.

Political decentralization

Due to the many and complicated tasks that city authorities must deal with and the often equally complicated decision making in the city council, it is not easy create room for decentralized citizen participation. Several cities try to improve citizen participation in political decentralization. The establishment of city districts with their own administrative bodies often leads to power struggles between central and decentralized politicians, without residents gaining more influence.
According to Jan Schrijver, the centralized administrative culture of Amsterdam the city’s ideals of citizen participation often clashes even though the impressive amount of policy instruments to promote participation: Initiating a referendum has been made more accessible, social initiatives can be subsidized, and confirmed in neighborhood rights, including the 'right to challenge' and neighborhoods have a budget of their own.

Very recently, a 'mini-citizen deliberation' was held under the leadership of Alex Brenninkmeijer on the concrete question of how Amsterdam can accelerate the energy transition. This meeting was very productive, and the participants were satisfied with the progress. It will become clear soon whether the city council will adopt the proposals.

A city of commons

Democratization is mostly conceived of as a decision-making process, the result of which the municipal organization carries out. The ultimate step of democratization, after decentralization, is autonomy: Residents not only decide on, for example, playgrounds in their neighborhood, they also ensure that these are provided. Increasingly, the latter is formally established in the right to challenge. For example, a group of residents demonstrates that they can perform a previously municipal task better and often cheaper themselves. This is a significant step on the participation ladderfrom participating in decision-making autonomy.

In Italy this process has boomed, and the city of Bologna has become a stronghold of urban commons. Citizens become designers, managers, and users of some municipal tasks. Creating green areas, converting an empty house into affordable units for students, the elderly, or migrants, operating a minibus service, cleaning, and maintaining the city walls, refurbishing parts of the public space and much more.
From 2011, commons have been given a formal status. The most important instruments in this regard are cooperation-pacts. In each pact, city authorities and the parties involved (informal groups, NGOs, schools, entrepreneurs) lay down agreements about their activities, responsibilities, and power. Hundreds of pacts have been signed since the regulation was adopted. The city provides what the citizens need - money, material, housing, advice - and the citizens make their time, skills, and organizational capacity available. In some cases, commons also have a commercial purpose, for example the revitalization of a shopping street by the entrepreneurs established there. In that case, they often unite in a cooperative.
Only a limited number of people feel attracted to talk along the lines of politics, but many more people want to do something. This is at the roots of the success of the commons-movement.  This explains the success of the commons-movement in Italy and elsewhere.

Democracy after the commons

The commons-movement might influence urban governance in the longer term. The Italian political scientist Christian Iaione predicts the emergence of a city of commons. Here, all most urban tasks are performed by commons and cooperatives. The city is a network of both, decision-making is decentralized and deconcentrated.

A similar idea The city as a platform has emerged in the US coming from a completely different direction. Instead of simply voting every few years and leaving city administration to elected officials and expert bureaucrats, the networked city sees citizens as co designers, co-producers, and co-learners, according to Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder of GovLab. In the city as a platform residents look individually and collectively for new and better ways to meet their needs and enliven public life. These may be neighborhood-based initiatives, for example the redevelopment of a neighborhood or city-wide initiatives, for example cooperative of taxi drivers, competing with Uber.

Without saying it in so many words, everyone involved sees both the city of commons and the city as a platform as an opportunity to make citizens the engine of urban development again instead of multinational companies. But in view of the (financial) power of these companies, it could also turn out that they appropriate the city. We have already experienced this once when a sympathetic and democratic sharing platform such as Airbnb grew into a multinational enterprise with a far-reaching impact on urban life. For the time being, therefore, city administrators can best focus on enabling and supporting citizens' joint action to make cities more beautiful, liveable, and sustainable.

The above builds on two essays included in my e-book Cities of the Future: Always humane, smart if helpful. The first essay Strengthening Urban Democracy – The Well-Governed City elaborates on the concepts of direct democracy, decentralization and autonomy and describes digital applications for both improving services and urban democracy. The second essay Citizens' Initiatives – City of the Commons extensively examines activities in various places in the world to increase the involvement of residents in their place of residence, and in that context discusses in detail the idea behind 'commons'. The e-book can be downloaded by following the link below.

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Abuse of artificial intelligence by the police in the US. More than bias

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The 16th episode of the series Building sustainable cities - The contribution of digital technology reveals what can happen if the power of artificial intelligence is not used in a responsible manner.

The fight against crime in the United States, has been the scene of artificial intelligence’s abuse for years. As will become apparent, this is not only the result of bias. In episode 11, I discussed why artificial intelligence is a fundamentally new way of using computers. Until then, computers were programmed to perform operations such as structuring data and making decisions. In the case of artificial intelligence, they are trained to do so. However, it is still people who design the instructions (algorithms) and are responsible for the outcomes, although the way in which the computer performs its calculations is increasingly becoming a 'black box'.

Applications of artificial intelligence in the police

Experienced detectives are traditionally trained to compare the 'modus operandi' of crimes to track down perpetrators. Due to the labor-intensive nature of the manual implementation, the question soon arose as to whether computers could be of assistance. A first attempt to do so in 2012 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resulted in grouping past crimes into clusters that were likely to have been committed by the same perpetrator(s). When creating the algorithm, the intuition of experienced police officers was the starting point. Sometimes it was possible to predict where and when a burglar might strike, leading to additional surveillance and an arrest.

These first attempts were soon refined and taken up by commercial companies. The two most used techniques that resulted are predictive policing (PredPol) and facial recognition.

In the case of predictive policing, patrols are given directions in which neighborhood or even street they should patrol at a given moment because it has been calculated that the risk of crimes (vandalism, burglary, violence) is then greatest. Anyone who behaves 'suspiciously' risks to be arrested. Facial recognition plays also an important role in this.

Both predictive policing and facial recognition are based on a "learning set" of tens of thousands of "suspicious" individuals. At one point, New York police had a database of 48,000 individuals. 66% of those were black, 31.7% were Latino and only 1% were white. This composition has everything to do with the working method of the police. Although drug use in cities in the US is common in all neighborhoods, policing based on PredPol and similar systems is focused on a few neighborhoods (of color). Then, it is not surprising that most drug-related crimes are retrieved there and, as a result, the composition of the database became even more skewed.

Overcoming bias

In these cases, 'bias' is the cause of the unethical effect of the application of artificial intelligence. Algorithms always reflect the assumptions, views, and values of their creators. They do not predict the future, but make sure that the past is reproduced. This also applies to applications outside the police force. The St. George Hospital Medical School in London has employed disproportionately many white males for at least a decade because the leather set reflected the incumbent staff. The criticized Dutch System Risk Indication System also uses historical data about fines, debts, benefits, education, and integration to search more effectively for people who abuse benefits or allowances. This is not objectionable but should never lead to 'automatic' incrimination without further investigation and the exclusion of less obvious persons.

The simple fact that the police have a disproportionate presence in alleged hotspots and are very keen on any form of suspicious behavior means that the number of confrontations with violent results has increased rapidly. In 2017 alone, police crackdowns in the US resulted in an unprecedented 1,100 casualties, of which only a limited number of whites. In addition, the police have been engaged in racial profiling for decades. Between 2004-2012, the New York Police Department checked more than 4.4 million residents. Most of these checks resulted in no further action. In about 83% of the cases, the person was black or Latino, although the two groups together make up just over half of the population. For many citizens of colour in the US, the police do not represent 'the good', but have become part of a hostile state power.

In New York, in 2017, a municipal provision to regulate the use of artificial intelligence was proposed, the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act (POST). The Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a prominent US civil rights organization, urged the New York City Council to ban the use of data made available because of discriminatory or biased enforcement policies. This wish was granted in June 2019, and this resulted in the number of persons included in the database being reduced from 42,000 to 18,000. It concerned all persons who had been included in the system without concrete suspicion.

San Francisco, Portland, and a range of other cities have gone a few steps further and banned the use of facial recognition technology by police and other public authorities. Experts recognize that the artificial intelligence underlying facial recognition systems is still imprecise, especially when it comes to identifying the non-white population.

The societal roots of crime

Knowledge of how to reduce bias in algorithms has grown, but instead of solving the problem, awareness has grown into a much deeper problem. It is about the causes of crime itself and the realization that the police can never remove them.

Crime and recidivism are associated with inequality, poverty, poor housing, unemployment, use of alcohol and drugs, and untreated mental illness. These are also dominant characteristics of neighborhoods with a lot of crime. As a result, residents of these neighborhoods are unable to lead a decent life. These conditions are stressors that influence the quality of the parent-child relationship too: attachment problems, insufficient parental supervision, including tolerance of alcohol and drugs, lack of discipline or an excess of authoritarian behavior. All in all, these conditions increase the likelihood that young people will be involved in crime, and they diminish the prospect of a successful career in school and elsewhere.

The ultimate measures to reduce crime in the longer term and to improve security are: sufficient income, adequate housing, affordable childcare, especially for 'broken families' and unwed mothers and ample opportunities for girls' education. But also, care for young people who have encountered crime for the first time, to prevent them from making the mistake again.

Beyond bias

This will not solve the problems in the short term. A large proportion of those arrested by the police in the US are addicted to drugs or alcohol, are severely mentally disturbed, have serious problems in their home environment - if any - and have given up hope for a better future. Based on this understanding, the police in Johnson County, Kansas, have been calling for help from mental health professionals for years, rather than handcuffing those arrested right away. This approach has proved successful and caught the attention of the White House during the Obama administration. Lynn Overmann, who works as a senior advisor in the president’s technology office, has therefore started the Data-Driven Justice Initiative. The immediate reason was that the prisons appeared to be crowded by seriously disturbed psychiatric patients. Coincidentally, Johnson County had an integrated data system that stores both crime and health data. In other cities, these are kept in incomparable data silos. Together with the University of Chicago Data Science for Social Good Program, artificial intelligence was used to analyze a database of 127,000 people. The aim was to find out, based on historical data, which of those involved was most likely to be arrested within a month. This is not with the intention of hastening an arrest with predictive techniques, but instead to offer them targeted medical assistance. This program was picked up in several cities and in Miami it resulted in a 40% reduction in arrests and the closing of an entire prison.

What does this example teach? The rise of artificial intelligence caused Wire editor Chris Anderson to call it the end of the theory. He couldn't be more wrong! Theory has never disappeared; at most it has disappeared from the consciousness of those who work with artificial intelligence. In his book The end of policing, Alex Vitale concludes: Unless cities alter the police's core functions and values, use by police of even the most fair and accurate algorithms is likely to enhance discriminatory and unjust outcomes (p. 28). Ben Green adds: The assumption is: we predicted crime here and you send in police. But what if you used data and sent in resources? (The smart enough city, p. 78).

The point is to replace the dominant paradigm of identifying, prosecuting and incarcerating criminals with the paradigm of finding potential offenders in a timely manner and giving them the help, they need. It turns out that it's even cheaper. The need for the use of artificial intelligence is not diminishing, but the training of the computers, including the composition of the training sets, must change significantly. It is therefore recommended that diverse and independent teams design such a training program based on a scientifically based view of the underlying problem and not leaving it to the police itself.

This article is a condensed version of an earlier article The Safe City (September 2019), which you can read by following the link below, supplemented with data from Chapter 4 Machine learning's social and political foundationsfrom Ben Green's book The smart enough city (2020).

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