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Shuttercam is a project by Responsible Sensing Lab (RSL), a collaboration between the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute. In essence, RSL is a testbed for conducting research and experiments on how smart sensing technologies in public space – like cameras – can be designed in a way that makes the digital city 'responsible’.
At the Lab we invite academics and practitioners responsible for digital systems in the city to explore how to integrate social values such as autonomy, privacy and transparency in the design of these sensing systems in public space.
How to know when a camera ‘sees’ you?
The Shuttercam project originated based on the notion that citizens currently can not directly know or see if and when cameras in public space are monitoring you or not. The project also questions the necessity for many non-security related cameras in the city to be switched on indefinitely.
Experimenting with 3 prototypes at Marineterrein
The Shuttercam project will test 3 prototypes. These are installed at Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab (MALL) in the upcoming weeks.
First and foremost, the cameras within this project are all part of the crowd monitoring system by the City of Amsterdam, which is a privacy friendly system. So what do these cameras record or see for example?
A crowd monitoring system works with a camera that has an algorithm read out and analyzes video images. In addition to measuring crowds and displaying those crowds in usable numbers, the algorithm can also determine whether people keep a distance of 1.5 meters. All this is done in an anonymous manner that naturally complies with all privacy legislation.
The video images are not watched by a human but are processed automatically. Only a few frames are saved with unrecognizable, blurred people's faces. Those frames help to "train" the algorithm. Furthermore, the images are not saved. Continue reading about the the Shuttercam project >>
The City of Amsterdam has many smart technologies in place: from smart devices that measure things (i.e. sensors) to smart devices that steer processes in the city (i.e. actuators) such as traffic lights, charging stations, adaptable street lights, barriers that go up and down, and adaptive digital signs.
To illustrate, throughout the city there are over 200 cameras, about 230 air quality sensors and almost 500 beacons in place. The latter being devices in physical spaces that emit a signal that can be picked up by mobile devices with a specific app.
Smart technologies like these help the municipality to efficiently measure, analyse and steer processes in the urban area. For example to optimize mobility flows in urban environments, to better use available capacity of energy infrastructures, to conduct condition management on the city’s assets, rationalise garbage removal and much more.
Responsible Urban Digitization
On the one hand, innovations like these can help improve the quality of life in the city and enhance safety and efficiency, but also sustainability and livability. Simultaneously, such novel technologies can impact society quite broadly. They could have consequences for matters that citizens value greatly, such as autonomy, privacy, transparency, inclusiveness and empowerment.
“The City does not want its inhabitants negatively impacted by potential privacy infringements, sense of loss of control and understandability, or reactions such as self-censorship.” - Sigrid Winkel | Urban Innovation Officer | City of Amsterdam CTO
“Our recent research has pointed out that ‘official’ actors primarily see transparency as a mean to ensure adoption, while citizens see transparency as a starting point for voicing their concerns and influencing the purpose and use of smart technology. This leads us to conclude that we - as designers of these systems - need to aim to design these systems for engagement as well as pushback by society.” - Gerd Kortuem | Professor & AMS PI
Launching a Responsible Sensing Lab
With our Responsible Urban Digitization program, we research, develop and integrate smart technologies like the aforementioned to help solve urban challenges. At the same time, we explore how to embed society’s public and democratic values in the design of these innovations.
As part of this program, we are launching a Responsible Sensing Lab. In essence this is a testbed for conducting rigorous, transparent, and replicable research how our smart technologies placed in public space can be designed in a way that makes the digital city ‘responsible’.
(Re)designing, prototype testing and implementing responsible sensing systems
In the Responsible Sensing Lab academics are invited to connect and work with practitioners who are responsible for digital systems in the city to (re)design, prototype and test (more) responsible ways of sensing in public space for and with the City of Amsterdam.
Hence, the Lab is a place where teams of multi-disciplinary stakeholders – such as computer scientists, policy makers, psychologists, designers and hardware experts – can address existing hardware, software and other city sensing systems.
“Responsible Sensing Lab is a place where experimentation and technologies come together to (re)design these innovations solutions that make public spaces cleaner, smarter and easier – while at the same time guaranteeing our social values.” - Thijs Turèl | Program Manager Responsible Urban Digitization | AMS Institute
Three cases: Human Scan Car, Transparant Charging Station, Camera Shutter
There are already a few examples of projects that will be further explored in the Responsible Sensing Lab. Namely, the Human Scan Car, Transparent Charging Station and Camera Shutter projects.
Firstly, scan cars – vehicles that are equipped with sensors to collect data on the urban environment – are becoming increasingly popular to help the municipality to carry out tasks efficiently. For example with parking policy enforcement, waste registration and advertisement taxation. Apart from making the city more efficient and clean, with this project we question and explore what public and democratic values should be embedded in the implementation of these scan cars.
Together with UNSense, we invited representatives from the City of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, TADA, and researchers from TU Delft to join us for a 3-day sprint to design “the scan car of the future”, that also looks at the human and fair values of the advances in technology. Get a full impression of this design sprint here.
“Design should play a role in guiding the perceptions of, and interactions with, automated sensing systems in the city. Going through this process with AMS Institute's researchers and public servants, we’ll be able to bend the design towards a more consciously chosen, collectively desirable future.” - Tessa Steenkamp | Sensorial Experience Designer | UNSense
Secondly, the transparent charging station is a design project meant to explain smart charging algorithm decisions to users. In the near future, when electric cars become more prevelant, the electicity grid will no longer be able to charge all electric cars at the same time. Smart charging algorithms will help coordinate which car will get to charge at what time. But how do these algorithms decide? The transparent charging station project produces the first user interface informing people about smart charging decisions.
"The transparent charging station promises to improve the democratic oversight of algorithms in EV charging. By explaining charging algorithm inputs, procedures and outputs in a user interface, EV drivers should be able to determine the system's fairness and see who the responsible parties are". - Kars Alfrink | Doctoral Researcher | TU Delft
Thirdly, the Camera Shutter project originated based on the notion that people do not know if and when cameras in public space are recording or not*.* We wondered: would people like to live in a city where all city cameras clearly show or state when they’re not in use? What if, just like laptop shutters many people have placed over their webcam, this could be a way to make clear to citizens when a camera is not recording them?
For this third project, a timelapse camera at the office of AMS Institute was outfitted with a shutter. Subsequently, the effects of this small-scale pilot will be examined by interviewing staff and visitors.
Core values for responsible urban digitization
At the Responsible Sensing Lab, and for Responsible Urban Digitization program as a whole, we use the City’s values (TADA, Digital City Agenda) as our starting point. We will explore what these values mean when applied to actual digital software and hardware.
Also, we are inspired by the methodology of value sensitive design. This approach allows us to focus on design choices inherent in the type of sensing hardware, the distribution of intelligence between cloud and back-end, the physical design and placement of sensors in public space, and interaction possibilities for citizens.
Recently, a three year collaboration has been signed between the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute. In this Lab, we’ll work closely with experts at TU Delft Industrial Design Faculty.
Te wicked? Niet voor ons.
Wij werken allemaal aan urgente, complexe, maatschappelijke uitdagingen. Issues die schier onoplosbaar lijken, van dilemma’s en paradoxen omgeven, nog niet duidelijk hoe het moet. Wel is duidelijk dát het moet, dat we elkaar nodig
hebben en dat we er NU aan moeten beginnen. Om met de woorden van Jan Rotmans te spreken; we leven niet in een tijdperk van verandering maar in een verandering van tijdperk. En hier hoort een nieuwe gereedschapskist bij.
En of je nou aan energietransitie werkt, andere mobiliteitssystemen, creëren van waterstofhubs, peer to peer autodeelsystemen, het maakt niet uit, we zien dat al deze opgaven op enig moment tegen gelijksoortige barrières aanlopen. Op samenwerking, financiering, privacy, onvoldoende aansluiting op de maatschappij, om maar een paar voorbeelden te noemen.
Als Amsterdam Smart City netwerk willen en kunnen we deze opgaven niet laten liggen. Door het bundelen van onze kennis en expertise kunnen we als netwerk iets unieks bieden en de wil en durf tonen om deze barrières te doorbreken. De betrokken partners die dit uitdenken en begeleiden zijn RHDHV, Kennisland, Drift, NEMO, Arcadis, Alliander, HvA en Metabolic. Zij bundelen hun expertise en ervaring om de echte vragen boven tafel te krijgen, tot nieuwe manieren van samenwerken te komen en barrières te doorbreken. We richten ons met name op de start van de samenwerking. Gezamenlijk ontwikkelen we een ‘wicked problem aanpak’. Op een nieuwe manier, lerend door te doen, exploratief.
Waar moet je aan denken?
Wat is eigenlijk het echte probleem? Wiens probleem is dit? Hoe kijken anderen er tegenaan? Welke andere partijen lijken nodig? Hoe vind je ze? Hoe ga je om met eigenaarschap en botsende frames? Hoe zorg je dat je al in
een vroeg stadium de maatschappij (bewoners, ondernemers, werknemers, etc) betrekt en hun ervaringen in het project trekt? Het wicked problem team zet nieuwe methoden in voor het beantwoorden van deze vragen. En het creëren van de benodigde commitment om het vraagstuk aan te pakken. Niets staat van te voren vast, want we passen ons aan aan wat we tegenkomen. Met elkaar ontwikkelen we een nieuwe aanpak om de barrières te doorbreken.
Testing medical certified body sensors to detect unexpected behaviour, triggering an alert, which allows the command & control room to act and better support their fellow officers in the field.
Blue Force Tracking - Nalta Experience #1
How to improve the protection and safety of the Dutch Blue Force using smart Technology?
Nalta built a new innovative Internet of Things solution solving just that. In partnership with the Netherlands Police, the municipality of Amsterdam, Johan Cruijff Arena, Dell Technologies and Dell Boomi we cre
How might we automate access to a public digital ecosystem for citizens and machines in order to grow a conscious city? How might we incentivize all citizens and companies to interact with the public digital ecosystem of the city in order to improve livability, democratic representation and societal engagement?
Read our ecosystem document
Join our online ecosystem platform
5G will be the new generation of mobile connectivity. The connection will be faster and more reliable, and will bring previously unknown possibilities for citizens and business. Amsterdam is exploring the opportunities and obstacles on the road to a safe and useful 5G network. One of the ways we do this is with our field lab in Amsterdam South East, from the train station to the Johan Cruijff ArenA. But also through regional, national and international collaborations.
If data is the new gold, how can we ensure that we can all benefit from the possibilities?
The idea originated during the Science and Business dinner organized by Amsterdam Science Park (ASP). With Science Park’s history in the field of technological innovation and digital connectivity, the Amdex was a logical next step. As argued by Margo Keizer (ASP), "data sharing is already happening here, but at an informal level. We bring all these different initiatives together. To do this, we need to address various infrastructural and legal issues." The Amsterdam Data Exchange is an initiative to do exactly that, she adds.
Wouter Los questions: "how can we work efficiently with all this data?” With his extensive experience in the European scientific community, Los helped in the investigation of the function of the data marketplace. He explains "we want to go to an open, democratic playing field. In this model - in contrast to the monopolistic models that you now come across - the data remains from its owner and they decide which data can be shared with whom and under what conditions. We build a market model in which everyone is able to consult and use data in a transparent, familiar manner."
Chief Technology Officer, Ger Baron mentions, "since 2011, the municipality have had an open data policy. Municipal data is from the community and must therefore be available to everyone, unless privacy is at stake. In recent years we have learned to open up data in different ways.” He adds, “panorama photos, for example, are freely accessible on our data portal. In addition, we share data with market parties to find a parking space. We want to share data, but under the right conditions. This requires a transparent date market which is exactly what the Amsterdam Data Exchange can offer."
Welcome to the Black Box Bellagio - an unusual casino that won’t take your money, but is after your freedom, integrity and private data instead. Play with the (un)fairness of expected values, predicted risks, and giving up your identity. Disclaimer: The house always seems to win.
The internet services we think of as free are often paid for with our data: it is the price of access, and is used to determine our treatment and advantages. Our data feeds the algorithms which can unfairly or wrongly categorise, exclude or discriminate against us. The Black Box Bellagio uses the dynamics of a casino to communicate the asymmetry of this relationship. At this casino, like on the internet, your personal data determines the advantages you get, the luck and misfortune you experience, and how much it really costs you to play.
The Black Box Bellagio has been developed by Roos Groothuizen (1992, NL), an Amsterdam/Utrecht-based designer and artist, who cares about digital rights. Fascinated with the unfair distribution of information and how online algorithms systematically discriminate us, her work reflects on in-depth research and recent developments, often with interactive or game-like elements. The Black Box Bellagio has been realized in collaboration with Ymer Marinus and the Waag.
Film documentation from De Nieuwe Anita (May 2018), by Jimena Gauna for Waag:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 732546. The Black Box Bellagio is organised as part of DECODE, a project developed by 14 European partners. Through this casino DECODE aims to engage a new group of people in conversations about personal data, privacy and data commons.
Pictures by Jimena Gauna for Waag
More picture and information: Click here
As part of the TechConnect action programme, a number of initiatives are being launched to increase equal opportunities in the tech sector by making related study programmes and tech jobs accessible to everyone. In practice, this means that thousands of women, people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and owners of SMEs will be trained to become coders, data analysts, growth hackers, UX designers or tech administrators.
For more information, visit the website: <https://techconnect.city/>
At the University of Amsterdam, in the course of Heuristics, we have a case on SmartGrids. The assignment involves writing algorithms to optimally configure a grid of energy consuming and producing entities.
Houses with solar panels with different outputs must be linked to batteries, all placed on a grid, with minimal wiring cost. In a later stage, alternative locations for batteries might also be obtained.
Check out the case on heuristieken.nl.
DECODE is an EU funded project to make tools that put people in control of whether they keep their personal information private or share it for the public good.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon
2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 732546.
An innovative and intuitive platform made for streamlining and forging meaningful connections between like-minded, influential, and invested partners in order to efficiently make real progress towards achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for a better world.