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In the 11th episode of the series Better cities: The contribution of digital technology, I will apply the ethical principles from episode 9 to the design and use of artificial intelligence.
Before, I will briefly summarize the main features of artificial intelligence, such as big data, algorithms, deep-learning, and machine learning. For those who want to know more: Radical technologies by Adam Greenfield (2017) is a very readable introduction, also regarding technologies such as blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things, and robotics, which will be discussed in next episodes.
Artificial intelligence has valuable applications but also gross forms of abuse. Valuable, for example, is the use of artificial intelligence in the layout of houses and neighborhoods, taking into account ease of use, views and sunlight with AI technology from Spacemaker or measuring the noise in the center of Genk using Nokia's Scene Analytics technology. It is reprehensible how the police in the US discriminate against population groups with programs such as PredPol and how the Dutch government has dealt in the so called ‘toelagenaffaire’.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, a computer can independently recognize patterns. Recognizing patterns as such is nothing new. This has long been possible with computer programs written for that purpose. For example, to distinguish images of dogs and cats, a programmer created an "if....then" description of all relevant characteristics of dogs and cats that enabled a computer to distinguish between pictures of the two animal species. The number of errors depended on the level of detail of the program. When it comes to more types of animals and animals that have been photographed from different angles, making such a program is very complicated. In that case, a computer can be trained to distinguish relevant patterns itself. In this case we speak of artificial intelligence. People still play an important role in this. This role consists in the first place in writing an instruction - an algorithm - and then in the composition of a training set, a selection of a large number of examples, for example of animals that are labeled as dog or cat and if necessary lion tiger and more . The computer then searches 'itself' for associated characteristics. If there are still too many errors, new images will be added.
The way in which the animals are depicted can vary endlessly, whereby it is no longer about their characteristics, but about shadow effect, movement, position of the camera or the nature of the movement, in the case of moving images. The biggest challenge is to teach the computer to take these contextual characteristics into account as well. This is done through the imitation of the neural networks. Image recognition takes place just like in our brains thanks to distinguishing layers, varying from distinguishing simple lines, patterns, and colors to differences in sharpness. Because of this layering, we speak of 'deep learning'. This obviously involves large data sets and a lot of computing power, but it is also a labor-intensive process.
Learning how to apply algorithms under supervision produces reliable results and the instructor can still explain the result after many iterations. As the situation becomes more complicated and different processes are proceeding at the same time, guided instruction is not feasible any longer. For example, if animals attack each other, surviving or not, and the computer must predict which kind of animals have the best chance of survival under which conditions. Also think of the patterns that the computer of a car must be able to distinguish to be able to drive safely on of the almost unlimited variation, supervised learning no longer works.
In the case of unsupervised learning, the computer is fed with data from many millions of realistic situations, in the case of cars recordings of traffic situations and the way the drivers reacted to them. Here we can rightly speak of 'big data' and 'machine learning', although these terms are often used more broadly. For example, the car's computer 'learns' how and when it must stay within the lanes, can pass, how pedestrians, bicycles or other 'objects' can be avoided, what traffic signs mean and what the corresponding action is. Tesla’s still pass all this data on to a data center, which distills patterns from it that regularly update the 'autopilots' of the whole fleet. In the long run, every Tesla, anywhere in the world, should recognize every imaginable pattern, respond correctly and thus guarantee the highest possible level of safety. This is apparently not the case yet and Tesla's 'autopilot' may therefore not be used without the presence of a driver 'in control'. Nobody knows by what criteria a Tesla's algorithms work.
Unsupervised learning is also applied when it comes to the prediction of (tax) fraud, the chance that certain people will 'make a mistake' or in which places the risk of a crime is greatest at a certain moment. But also, in the assessment of applicants and the allocation of housing. For all these purposes, the value of artificial intelligence is overestimated. Here too, the 'decisions' that a computer make are a 'black box'. Partly for this reason, it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace and correct any errors afterwards. This is one of the problems with the infamous ‘toelagenaffaire’.
The cybernetic loop
Algorithmic decision-making is part of a new digital wave, characterized by a 'cybernetic loop' of measuring (collecting data), profiling (analyzing data) and intervening (applying data). These aspects are also reflected in every decision-making process, but the parties involved, politicians and representatives of the people make conscious choices step by step, while the entire process is now partly a black box.
The role of ethical principles
Meanwhile, concerns are growing about ignoring ethical principles using artificial intelligence. This applies to near all principles that are discussed in the 9th episode: violation of privacy, discrimination, lack of transparency and abuse of power resulting in great (partly unintentional) suffering, risks to the security of critical infrastructure, the erosion of human intelligence and undermining of trust in society. It is therefore necessary to formulate guidelines that align the application of artificial intelligence again with these ethical principles.
An interesting impetus to this end is given in the publication of the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers: Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. The Rathenau Institute has also published several guidelines in various publications.
The main guidelines that can be distilled from these and other publications are:
1. Placing responsibility for the impact of the use of artificial intelligence on both those who make decisions about its application (political, organizational, or corporate leadership) and the developers. This responsibility concerns the systems used as well as the quality, accuracy, completeness, and representativeness of the data.
2. Prevent designers from (unknowingly) using their own standards when instructing learning processes. Teams with a diversity of backgrounds are a good way to prevent this.
3. To be able to trace back 'decisions' by computer systems to the algorithms used, to understand their operation and to be able to explain them.
4. To be able to scientifically substantiate the model that underlies the algorithm and the choice of data.
5. Manually verifying 'decisions' that have a negative impact on the data subject.
6. Excluding all forms of bias in the content of datasets, the application of algorithms and the handling of outcomes.
7. Accountability for the legal basis of the combination of datasets.
8. Determine whether the calculation aims to minimize false positives or false negatives.
9. Personal feedback to clients in case of lack of clarity in computerized ‘decisions’.
10. Applying the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity, which means determining on a case-by-case basis whether the benefits of using artificial intelligence outweigh the risks.
11. Prohibiting applications of artificial intelligence that pose a high risk of violating ethical principles, such as facial recognition, persuasive techniques and deep-fake techniques.
12. Revocation of legal provisions if it appears that they cannot be enforced in a transparent manner due to their complexity or vagueness.
The third, fourth and fifth directives must be seen in conjunction. I explain why below.
The scientific by-pass of algorithmic decision making
When using machine learning, computers themselves adapt and extend the algorithms and combine data from different data sets. As a result, the final ‘decisions’ made by the computer cannot be explained. This is only acceptable after it has been proven that these decisions are 'flawless', for example because, in the case of 'self-driving' cars, if they turn out to be many times safer than ordinary cars, which - by the way - is not the case yet.
Unfortunately, this was not the case too in the ‘toelagenaffaire’. The fourth guideline could have provided a solution. Scientific design-oriented research can be used to reconstruct the steps of a decision-making process to determine who is entitled to receive an allowance. By applying this decision tree to a sufficiently large sample of cases, the (degree of) correctness of the computer's 'decisions' can be verified. If this is indeed the case, then the criteria used in the manual calculation may be used to explain the processes in the computer's 'black box'. If there are too many deviations, then the computer calculation must be rejected at all.
In the US, the use of algorithms in the public sector has come in a bad light, especially because of the facial recognition practices that will be discussed in the next episode. The city of New York has therefore appointed an algorithm manager, who investigates whether the algorithms used comply with ethical and legal rules. KPMG has a supervisory role in Amsterdam. In other municipalities, we see that role more and more often fulfilled by an ethics committee.
In the European public domain, steps have already been taken to combat excesses of algorithmic decision-making. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in 2018, has significantly improved privacy protection. In April 2019, the European High Level Expert Group on AI published ethical guidelines for the application of artificial intelligence. In February 2020, the European Commission also established such guidelines, including in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and an AI regulation. The government also adopted the national digitization strategy, the Strategic Action Plan for AI and the policy letter on AI, human rights, and public values.
I realize that binding governments and their executive bodies to ethical principles is grist to the mill for those who flout those principles. Therefore, the search for the legitimate use of artificial intelligence to detect crime, violations or abuse of subsidies and many other applications continues to deserve broad support.
Follow the link below to find one of the previous episodes or see which episodes are next, and this one for the Dutch version.
Free, open access toolkit of user-centered methods for urban planners, designers, and advocates to make cycling inclusive and accessible to all.
Vind jij het leuk om met verschillende acties tegelijkertijd bezig te zijn? Ben je goed in plannen, een denker én een doener? En ook nog eens heel handig met allerlei programma’s en tools? Amsterdam Economic Board zoekt een Projectmedewerker zoals jij voor 32-40 uur per week. Stuur ons uiterlijk 24 januari je CV en motivatie.
House of Skills is op zoek naar ondersteuning op administratief en organisatorisch vlak. Ben jij een goede Secretaresse, houd je van werken in een hecht team met heel verschillende mensen en zoek je een baan voor 32 uur per week? Reageer dan uiterlijk maandag 17 januari.
The 9th episode of the series Building sustainable cities: the contribution of digital technology deals with guidelines and related ethical principles that apply to the design and application of digital technology.
One thing that keeps me awake at night is the speed at which artificial intelligence is developing and the lack of rules for its development and application said Aleksandra Mojsilović, director of IBM Science for Social Good. The European Union has a strong focus on regulations to ensure that technology is people-oriented, ensures a fair and competitive digital economy and contributes to an open, democratic and sustainable society. This relates to more than legal frameworks, also to political choices, ethical principles, and the responsibilities of the profession. This is what this post is about.
Politicians are ultimately responsible for the development, selection, application and use of (digital) technology. In this respect, a distinction must be made between:
• Coordination of digital instruments and the vision on the development of the city.
• Drawing up policy guidelines for digitization in general.
• Recognizing related ethical principles next to these policy guidelines.
• Creating the conditions for democratic oversight of the application of digital technology.
• Make an appeal to the responsibilities of the ICT professional group.
Guidelines for digitization policy
In the previous post I emphasized that the digital agenda must result from the urban policy agenda and that digital instruments and other policy instruments must be seen in mutual relation.
Below are five additional guidelines for digitization policy formulated by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. 36 cities are involved in this initiative, including Apeldoorn, as the only Dutch municipality. The cities involved will elaborate these guidelines soon. In the meantime, I have listed some examples.
Equity, inclusiveness, and social impact
• Enabling every household to use the Internet.
• Making information and communication technology (ICT) and digital communication with government accessible to all, including the physically/mentally disabled, the elderly and immigrants with limited command of the local language.
• Assessing the impact of current digital technology on citizens and anticipating the future impact of this policy.
• Facilitating regular education and institutions for continuous learning to offer easily accessible programs to develop digital literacy.
• Challenging neighborhoods and community initiatives to explore the supportive role of digital devices in their communication and actions.
Security and resilience
• Developing a broadly supported vision on Internet security and its consequences.
• Mandatory compliance with rules and standards (for instance regarding IoT) to protect digital systems against cyberthreats.
• Becoming resilient regarding cybercrime by developing back-up systems that seamless take over services eventually.
• Building resilience against misuse of digital communication, especially bullying, intimidation and threats.
• Reducing the multitude of technology platforms and standards, to limit entry points for cyber attackers.
Privacy and transparency
• The right to move and stay in cities without being digitally surveilled, except in case of law enforcement with legal means.
• Establishing rules in a democratic manner for the collection of data from citizens in the public space.
• Minimalist collection of data by cities to enable services.
• Citizens' right to control their own data and to decide which ones are shared and under which circumstances.
• Using privacy impact assessment as a method for identifying, evaluating, and addressing privacy risks by companies, organizations, and the city itself.
Openness and interoperability
• Providing depersonalized data from as many as possible organizations to citizens and organizations as a reliable evidence base to support policy and to create open markets for interchangeable technology.
• Public registration of devices, their ownership, and their aim.
• Choosing adequate data architecture, including standards, agreements, and norms to enable reuse of digital technology and to avoid lock-ins.
Operational and financial sustainability
• Ensuring a safe and well-functioning Internet
• The coordinated approach ('dig once') of constructing and maintenance of digital infrastructure, including Wi-Fi, wired technologies and Internet of Things (IoT).
• Exploring first, whether the city can develop and manage required technology by itself, before turning to commercial parties.
• Cities, companies, and knowledge institutions share data and cooperate in a precompetitive way at innovations for mutual benefit.
• Digital solutions are feasible: Results are achieved within an agreed time, with an agreed budget.
The guidelines formulated above partly converge with the ethical principles that underlie digitization according to the Rathenau Institute. Below, I will summarize these principles.
• Citizens' right to dispose of their own (digital) data, collected by the government, companies and other organizations.
• Limitation of the data to be collected to those are functionally necessary (privacy by design), which also prevents improper use.
• Data collection in the domestic environment only after personal permission and in the public environment only after consent by the municipal council.
• The right to decide about information to be received.
• The right to reject or consent to independent decision making by digital devices in the home.
• No filtering of information except in case of instructions by democratically elected bodies.
• Ensuring protection of personal data and against identity theft through encryption and biometric recognition.
• Preventing unwanted manipulation of devices by unauthorized persons.
• Providing adequate warnings against risks by providers of virtual reality software.
• Securing exchange of data
• Ensuring public participation in policy development related to digitization
• Providing transparency of decision-making through algorithms and opportunity to influence these decisions by human interventions.
• Decisions taken by autonomous systems always include an explanation of the underlying considerations and provide the option to appeal against this decision.
• Using robotics technology mainly in routinely, dangerous, and dirty work, preferably under supervision of human actors.
• Informing human actors collaborating with robots of the foundations of their operation and the possibilities to influence them.
• Ensuring equal opportunities, accessibility, and benefits for all when applying digital systems
• If autonomous systems are used to assess personal situations, the result is always checked for its fairness, certainty, and comprehensibility for the receiving party.
• In the case of autonomous analysis of human behavior, the motives on which an assessment has taken place can be checked by human intervention.
• Employees in the gig economy have an employment contract or an income as self-employed in accordance with legal standards.
• The possibility of updating software if equipment still is usable, even if certain functionalities are no longer available.
• Companies may not use their monopoly position to antagonize other companies.
• Ensuring equal opportunities, accessibility, and benefits for all when applying digital systems.
The above guidelines and ethical principles partly overlap. Nevertheless, I have not combined them as they represent different frames of reference that are often referred to separately. The principles for digitization policy are particularly suitable for the assessment of digitization policy. The ethical principles are especially useful when assessing different technologies. That is why I will use the latter in the following episodes.
In discussing the digitalization strategy of Amsterdam and other municipalities in later episodes, I will use a composite list of criteria, based on both the above guidelines and ethical principles. This list, titled 'Principles for a socially responsible digitization policy' can already be viewed HERE.
Currently, many municipalities still lack sufficient competencies to supervise the implementation and application of the guidelines and principles mentioned above. Moreover, they are involved as a party themselves. Therefore, setting up an independent advisory body for this purpose is desirable. In the US, almost every city now has a committee for public oversight of digitization. These committees are strongly focused on the role of the police, in particular practices related to facial recognition and predictive policing.
Several cities in the Netherlands have installed an ethics committee. A good initiative. I would also have such a committee supervise the aforementioned policy guidelines and not just the ethical principles. According to Bart Wernaart, lecturer in Moral Design Strategy at Fontys University of applied sciences, such a committee must be involved in digitization policy at an early stage, and it should also learn from mistakes in the field of digitization in the past.
The latter is especially necessary because, as the Dutch Data Protection Authority writes, the identity of an ethically responsible city is, is not set in stone. The best way to connect ethical principles and practice is to debate and questions the implications of policy in practice.
Experts’ own responsibility
A mature professional group has its own ethical principles, is monitoring their implementation, and sanctioning discordant members. In this respect, the medical world is most advanced. As far as I know, the ICT profession has not yet formulated its own ethical principles. This has been done, for example, by the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in the field of artificial intelligence. Sarah Hamid: Data scientists are generally concerned more with the abstract score metric of their models than the direct and indirect impact it can have on the world. However, experts often understand the unforeseen implications of government policy earlier than politicians. Hamid addresses the implications for professional action: If computer scientists really hoped to make a positive impact on the world, then they would need to start asking better questions. The road to technology implementation by governments is paved with failures. Professionals have often seen this coming, but have rarely warned, afraid of losing an assignment. Self-confident professionals must therefore say 'no' much more often to a job description. Hamid: Refusal is an essential practice for anyone who hopes to design sociotechnical systems in the service of justice and the public good. This even might result in a better relationship with the client and more successful projects.
Establishing policy guidelines and ethical principles for municipal digitization requires a critical municipal council and an ethics committee with relevant expertise. But it also needs professionals who carry out the assignment and enter the debate if necessary.
The link below opens a preliminary overview of the already published and upcoming articles in the series Building sustainable cities: the contribution of digital technology. Click HERE for the Dutch version.
This is the second part of a 5-piece movie on RESILIO blue-green roofs. We meet an expert on participation from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences ánd a resident from a social housing association de Alliantie complex on which a RESILIO Smart Blue-Green Roof just has been realized. We asked ourselves during the whole lifespan of RESILIO: How can we make smart sustainable solutions a hot and urgent topic for our citizens?
#participatie #socialhousing #heatstress #verduurzaming #resilientcommunities #residentengagement #indischebuurt
How do we develop sustainable and nature-inclusive cities? Starting from this question, earth-scientist and artist Esmee Geerken created the course 'Urban Ecology: building as being' for the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture. Young architecture professionals examined crossovers between ecology and architecture, and ways to apply this by building in interaction with the environment.
Within a case study at the Amsterdam Science Park, they designed building proposals in which complexity, biodiversity, ecology and self-organization are central. Their ideas show us possibilities on how we can make urban areas more inclusive, sustainable and diverse.
On Saturday January 15 from 15:00 to 16:30 hrs, they will present their designs. Register now to attend the presentations online.
At the Digital Society Showcase (DSS) we proudly share how our projects and courses activate a new generation’s potential to positively impact the digital transformation of society. Find out how to obtain a responsible, inclusive mindset, how to integrate technology in society and how to design for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
16:00 CET | start of live talkshow
16:30 CET | opening expo (ongoing)
17:00 CET | closing the live talkshow
18:15 CET | closing the expo
Live Talk Show
At 16:00 we kick-off with an interactive and live talkshow about Transformational Leadership, Learning Revolution and Sustainability, Diversity and Digital transformation.
With topic experts we discuss the following questions:
- What is needed to lead the transformation of todays world and digital society to become more inclusive, sustainable and living-future-proof?
- How is DSS changing the learning game from within the AUAS? What impact do we think education has on the needed transformation of crumbling systems around us?
- How is the AUAS growing these topics within the organisation, education and research? And how is DSS impacting these topics via our programs and products?
Discover the 7 projects
In 20 weeks an international, highly talented group of trainees worked on finding solutions for the most urgent challenges that relate to the digital transformation of society. In multidisciplinary teams they worked with our project partners, under the guidance of a ‘Digital Transformation Designer’, their track community, and the rest of the Digital Society School team.
During the showcase the teams will show you the prototypes and explain how they contributed to the Digital Transformation of Society and the Sustainable Development Goals. The different tracks (thematic programs) will also present themselves and discuss how design, tech and social innovation can have a positive impact on sustainable development.
Amsterdam krijgt de eerste Cyberbank van Nederland; een soort voedselbank voor laptops en digitale ondersteuning. 💻♻️
Heb jij een laptop of heeft jouw organisatie laptops die de Cyberbank een tweede leven kan geven? Vraag je werkgever oude laptops te doneren aan de Cyberbank en deel deze oproep binnen je netwerk!
Hoe meer laptops, hoe meer mensen er blij gemaakt kunnen worden.
Hoe het werkt?
➡️ Organisaties en particulieren doneren hun oude laptops.
➡️ Jongeren met een afstand tot de arbeidsmarkt knappen ze op.
➡️ Mensen met een Stadspas met groene stip kunnen tegen statiegeld van €20 euro aanspraak maken op een laptop. De eerste opgeknapte laptops worden begin 2022 verdeeld.
Informatie over de inzameling van gebruikte laptops en de eisen vind je op https://decyberbank.nl/
Kom naar het 'Digital Rights Day' weekend op 10-12 december! Een weekend met talks, exposities en film screenings over het thema digitale rechten.
Meld je nu aan voor onderstaande gratis (online) activiteiten:
➡️ Digital Rights Talk – 10 december (online streaming van Pakhuis de Zwijger)
➡️ Online vertoning You Are Your Profile II – 11 december (online streaming)
➡️ Tentoonstelling NEMO Studio- Bits of You + Zintuigen van Amsterdam – 11 december
Voor meer activiteiten van Digital Rights Day en om je aan te melden, ga naar https://www.amsterdam.nl/innovatie/digital-rights-day/
Did you already register for State of the Region 2021?
State of the Region is the annual event of the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam , Amsterdam Economy, Amsterdam Economic Board and amsterdam&partners in which we take a look at the joint challenges, the strength and the capacity of our region. The central theme this year is ‘Investing in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area’. Listen to the speech of the Mayor of Amsterdam, the challenging labourmarket and a keynote about the future of the city. See you the 10th of february at 15:45!
(*event is in Dutch, the keynote is English spoken).
I am currently conducting research on climate adaptation strategies in London and Amsterdam for the university of Amsterdam. I am approaching this topic from a social justice lens, i.e. understanding how the city is incorporating social justice in its climate adaptation strategies and policies.
I am currently looking for community organisations that are involved in projects that are directly or indirectly involved with tackling the urban heat island effect. This could be projects that seek to increase green spaces, improve how homes perform during heatwaves or even raise awareness on these issues in their community.
Any help is appreciated!
The Responsible IT research group at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is offering a fellowship to an artistic researcher or an artist, aiming to create fresh future-oriented perspectives on digitization and public values.
For your call for proposal see the following link.
SHARE Meets gaat dit keer over Healthy Urban Living & Working. Van lang, gezond, vitaal, sociaal en zelfstandig samenleven. Rode draad tijdens deze ondernemersbijeenkomst zijn Landgoed Wickevoort en een proef met geluidadaptief bouwen op Schiphol Trade Park. Landgoed Wickevoort is een nieuw duurzaam woongebied in het historische dijkdorp Cruquius. Centraal staat 'Gezond Stedelijk wonen & werken': gezond, vitaal en sociaal samenleven. Hoe maakt ontwikkelaar AM dit waar? Bram Breedveld van Landlab vertelt welke klimaatadaptieve maatregelen zijn meegenomen voor minder hittestress, regenbestendigheid en meer natuur. Verder komen de nieuwe stadsboeren Martin Verzijden en zus Ada de Graaff-Verzijden van Wickevoort aan het woord.
Hoe versterken we innovatie in de metropoolregio Amsterdam?
De uitdagingen waar we voor staan, zijn immens. We kunnen het alleen oplossen door dingen fundamenteel anders te doen, innovatie dus. Niet alleen door bestaande partijen, maar ook door startups en andere nieuwkomers. Nieuwe technieken zijn daarin essentieel. Daarmee kunnen we zorgen dat mensen anders met energie omgaan en veel beter onze grondstofstromen plannen. In de afgelopen tijd zijn deze verandering erg snel gegaan. Wat willen we hiervan behouden? En hoe zorgen we dat innovatie echt waarde toevoegt en bijdraagt aan een leefbare bruisende stad voor iedereen? Hoe zorgen we dat we tijdig de goede nieuwe ideeën spotten en groot maken?
Leonie van den Beuken Amsterdam Smart City
Zita Pels Provincie Noord-Holland
De overige sprekers en meer informatie volgen snel. Aanmelden kan via de website van Pakhuis de Zwijger.
The 9th of November, the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award finale of 2021 will take place. Join us online and be a witness to exciting new ideas that will create a positive impact on society! Nine finalists will pitch their ideas and compete for three Innovation Awards in the categories Environment & Climate, Health and Society and € 10.000 to bring their idea a step closer to application. Also, three researchers will be honored with an Impact Award for their significant impact on society: Halleh Ghorashi (VU Amsterdam), Hergen Spits (Amsterdam UMC) and Jeroen Kluck Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA).
When: Tuesday 9 November 2021
Time: 15:00 - 17:00
This post is the third and last in a series of articles about the startup ecosystem in Amsterdam Delta (Amsterdam metropolitan region). The first dealt with the dual challenge for start-ups to become socially and environmentally sustainable and to empower employees to be entrepreneurial through shared leadership. The second one was a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the Amsterdam startup ecosystem by the authors of the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystems Ranking.
Weaknesses and strengths
The 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report revealed several weaknesses in the Amsterdam startup ecosystem, which – I accentuate - should not overshadow the city’s position of Amsterdam as the world number 13 startup ecosystem. In terms of market reach, the overall score is satisfactory (7), but the Amsterdam Delta startups are primarily focused on global markets and score low on the local market. In the field of talent, the overall score is more than sufficient (7), due to the quality of technology students and graduates, but their number is inadequate, resulting in high vacancies and salary costs. Partly related to this, the growth potential (scalability) of the Amsterdam startup ecosystem is also insufficient, due to a limited reservoir of experienced entrepreneurs. Overall knowledge success is assessed as poor (1!) due to the unsatisfactory number of life science patents.
Amsterdam Policy plan 2019 - 2022
Most of the underlying data of the 2021 report is from 2019 – 2021, a time frame that coincides with the start of the new policy plan for startups in Amsterdam in the period 2019 - 2022. The inventory of challenges in this report mirrors several weaknesses mentioned above. Looking at the future, the report states: We have reached a point where growth of the local ecosystem does not have to mean that the local government wants to encourage as many companies in Amsterdam as possible but encourages activity that adds value to the city in new ways. In the coming years, we must also lay the foundations for a more inclusive society, in which the local startup and scaleup ecosystem also plays a role. A step towards inclusiveness means significantly increasing the business sector’s ambitions for social responsibility. In other words, a focus on quality in general that is aligned with at least the first challenge in the first post I referred to above.
How cities can support their startup ecosystem?
Below, I discuss highlights from the policy report 2019 - 2022 within a broader vision of possibilities for municipalities to support start- and scale-ups, partly based on an earlier edition of a The Global Startup Ecosystem Report.
According to the 2021Global Startup Ecosystems Report, the funding of new businesses is not a big problem in Amsterdam Delta, also because of the generous tax facilities(!) in the Netherlands. However, investment relies heavily on local investors and governmental grants: 54% of the capital flowing into the ecosystem comes from domestic sources, 25% from the rest of Europe, and just 21% from the rest of the world.
The City of Amsterdam subsidized the Innovation Center for AI (ICAI) at Amsterdam Science Park, requiring that at least 20% of its revenues will be reserved for innovative SMEs and startups.
While funding is not an overriding problem, Amsterdam can improve its coordinating role in providing financial support, as for example Seoul has done by the creation of the Dream bank, a one-stop agency for all financial matters.
Growth of markets
The market position of Amsterdam start- and scaleups can be improved, especially in the home market, but also internationally. Besides, every new startup must start from scratch by creating a market. An agency called Amsterdam Trade and Innovate has commissioned trade developers to organize domestic and international activities that support promising companies in clusters such as technology, health, life sciences, and creative industry.
Expanding the reservoir of entrepreneurs
Amsterdam focuses on women and young people with a migration background, most of whom never received tech-related training. Initiatives such as House of Skills, Action Plan W&T, House of Digital offer a range of technology-based courses to make up for these shortcomings, alongside startup schools such as BSSA, Growth Tribe and The Talent Institute.
In December 2020, the City of Amsterdam announced it will invest yearly US$ 856,500 in RISE, the Female Hub Amsterdam. There is a high demand in sectors such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, life science and energy storage, while relatively many university students in technology seem to prefer media studies and gaming and the fintech market is almost satorized. Studying will become more attractive by combining study and jobs and affordable (co-)housing and childcare options, both of which are both are seriously lacking.
In addition, the ‘Warm Welcome’ program aims to attract ambitious tech talent from abroad. Unfortunately, the pandemic has significantly reduced the influx of potential talent from abroad while market opportunities for innovative tech startups and scaleups were improving.
Innovative and research-oriented start-ups prefer the proximity of comparable small and medium-sized companies in campuses. They also prefer locations in mixed urban environments. A campus offers space for complementary companies, large and small, and facilities to collaborate, such as shared laboratory spaces. Amsterdam develops urban innovation districts through regional development and transformation. These areas that can accommodate rapid growth and opportunity for clustering ‘anchor companies’, leading (knowledge) institutions, startups, scaleups, incubators and accelerators. The main areas are: West Innovation Park, Amsterdam Sciencepark, Marineterrein , AMC-Amstel III and VU-Kenniskwartier/Zuidas.
Participation in the network of incubators and accelerators
Startups and scaleups need support. Incubators help companies to settle, accelerators help them to grow steadily. One of the best things any city can do is actively participation in these incubators and accelerators. They can become a one shop-stop for all prospective participants, providing virtually all the support start- and scaleups need. 31 of the 89 incubators and accelerators in the Netherlands, are active in the Amsterdam metropolitan area. A rich pallette of incubators and co-working spaces such as TQ, WeWork, Spaces, Startup Village, Rent24 and B.Amsterdam have been set up. Accelerators are Rockstart, Startupbootcamp, Fashion for Good, ACE and Collider.
Within an incubator or accelerator, the municipality can be primary responsible for legal matters, offering work- and living spaces (initially for free and later rented out at attractive rates), trade missions and procurement.
In some cities, startups can practice aspects of social and environmental sustainability in public administration. An example is the Startup in Residence program that started in Amsterdam and has now been spread over 20 other Dutch cities, regional governments, and ministries. The program is open to both Dutch and foreign entrepreneurs. Professional coaches provide intensive training and support. Workspace is available too. Under certain conditions, local, regional, and national governments become launching customers or partners. A report provides a detailed overview of the program in Amsterdam and its impact on the participants and the community.
Taking care of starters in general
Only a small but previously unknown part of all starters becomes a startup. Moreover, the number of starters outsizes that of startups and some can become valued companies too In the Netherlands, each year more than 100.000 starters are registered with the Chamber of Commerce.
Short evaluation Amsterdam policy plan 2019 - 12022
I doubt whether the current Amsterdam policy on start- and scaleups will result in a better ranking next year, also because in many cities startup ecologies are growing faster. Personally, I believe that consolidating a position in the top 20 is the best possible and still admirable result. This certainly applies if Amsterdam can achieve its ambitions in the field of qualitative rather than quantitative growth. Amsterdam wants to become an inclusive community and the first circular city in the world. The city wants that start- and scaleups becoming forerunners in reaching these objectives. I am partly disappointed in the content of the policy report 2019 - 2022 regarding this ambition. Indeed, becoming a more inclusive community is reflected in supporting the growth of the number female entrepreneurs. However, I looked in vain at policies encourage activity regarding developing start- and scaleups that add value to the city in new ways for instance contributing to the development of the circular economy. These businesses will make the difference in the future startup ecosystem.
I will regularly share ‘snapshots’ of the challenge of bringing socially and ecologically sustainable cities closer using technology if useful. These posts represent findings, updates, and additions to my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful, chapter 4 in particular. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
25 oktober - 20:00 uur - IJzaal PDZ, op locatie en livecast
De echte waarde van kunst
Kunst geeft de stad uitstraling, biedt levendigheid, verrast en daagt uit. Het kan tot nadenken zetten en het kan ook gewoon inspirerend en mooi zijn. Het is een belangrijke reden voor mensen om in een stad te willen wonen, werken en recreëren. Kunst is dus belangrijk om de stad leefbaar te houden, maar is er nog wel ruimte voor de creatieve makers in de stad en staat de economische waarde van kunst wel in verhouding tot de maatschappelijke waarde die het heeft?
In deze tweede aflevering van Centre of Expertise for Creative Innovation x Designing Cities for All gaan we hierover in gesprek met onderzoekers, beleidsmakers en natuurlijk kunstenaars. Ook gaan we het hebben over het maatschappelijk verdienvermogen. Wat is het, hoe bereik je het en wat voor rol kunnen kunstenaars en ontwerpers hierin hebben?
Met in dit programma:
Sepp Eckenhaussen is cultuurcriticus, onderzoeker en initiatiefnemer. Hij werkt als onderzoeker bij het Instituut voor Netwerkcultuur (Hogeschool van Amsterdam), waar hij zich bezighoudt met zelforganisatie, beleid en alternatieve verdienmodellen in (digitale) cultuur. Ook is Sepp co-directeur van Platform BK, een ledenvereniging en actieve denktank die de rol van kunst in de maatschappij onderzoekt en strijdt voor een beter kunstklimaat en een sterkere positie van de kunstenaar.
Gerbrand Bas is als productontwerper opgeleid aan de toenmalige Akademie voor Industriële Vormgeving. Na een carrière als ontwerper houdt hij sinds 15 jaar vooral bezig met het verbeteren van de randvoorwaarden voor design en de culturele en creatieve sector in het algemeen. Hij doet dat vooral in zijn functie als directeur van Designlink, als uitvoerende secretaris van de Federatie Creatieve Industrie en via diverse advies- en bestuursfuncties in de creatieve industrie.
Kevin de Randamie, als hiphopartiest bekend onder de naam Blaxtar, is oprichter van Braenworks Academy, een business school voor creatieve professionals. In 2010 ondervond De Randamie tijdens de economische crisis de gevolgen van een slecht ontwikkelde businesskant. Hij begon daarop een onderzoek naar het gebrek aan zakelijk inzicht bij hemzelf, artiesten en andere creatieven. Hij werd een businesscoach voor andere artiesten, maar ook designers, dansers en producenten. Daaruit kwam Braenworks voort, een businessplatform waar creatieve professionals elkaar vinden en versterken op zakelijk gebied. Als lid van het Topteam Creatieve Industrie wil de Randamie de werelden van sociale innovatie, human capital en mind-settraining bij elkaar brengen.
Josien Pieterse is mede-oprichter en co-directeur van Framer Framed. Framer Framed is een platform voor kunst en cultuur, met een expositieruimte in Amsterdam. De exposities bevinden zich op het snijvlak van hedendaagse kunst, visuele cultuur en politiek. De exposities tonen werk van bekende en onbekende kunstenaars die wereldwijd actief zijn en zich verhouden tot maatschappelijke vraagstukken. Bij het samenstellen van tentoonstellingen biedt Framer Framed een platform aan zowel gevestigde curatoren als nieuwe namen.
Frank Kresin is decaan van de Faculteit Digitale Media en Creatieve Industrie van de Hogeschool van Amsterdam en bestuurslid van ons CoECI en ARIAS Amsterdam. Hij heeft een achtergrond als filmmaker, een universitair diploma AI en stond aan de wieg van een groot aantal onderzoeksprogramma’s en -projecten op het snijvlak van kunst, wetenschap en technologie. Hij is nauw betrokken bij de thema’s Digital Social Innovation, Citizen Science, Critical Making en Responsible Design.
Raul Balai is een kunstenaar wiens focus ligt op thema’s als culturele ‘clashes’, hybriditeit, uitwisselingen en transformaties. Hij is gefascineerd door de manier waarop het dominante historisch narratief de status quo bepaalt. Verklaringen, verslaggeving en geschiedschrijving vanuit de status quo worden in zijn ogen vaak als hoogste waarheid gezien. De rode lijn in al zijn werk wordt gevormd door de vragen: hoe werkt geschiedenis, wie bepaalt het narratief, hoe wordt dit gereproduceerd en verspreid en in welke vorm en waar vindt dit zijn plek binnen de hedendaagse cultuur?
De Knowledge Mile Learning Community HvA en het Centre of Expertise for Creative Innovation organiseren donderdag 28 oktober van 08.30 tot 09.30 uur weer een Knowledge Mile Morning Meetup. Dit keer zijn we te gast bij onze partner Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (AHK) en wel bij het Heritage Lab, de innovation hotspot op het gebied van cultureel erfgoed en inclusieve participatie op de Knowledge Mile.
Heb je affiniteit met, ben je werkzaam in de creatieve industrie of wil je samenwerken met het Heritage Lab? Kom dan vooral langs. Tijdens deze meet-up staan innovatie in het erfgoedveld, zoals het co-creëren van interdisciplinaire herdenkingsvormen, onderzoek naar erfgoed in religieuze settings en de rol die het Heritage Lab kan spelen bij het innoveren van de erfgoedsector centraal.
08:30 | Inloop met koffie en croissantje
08:40 | Welkom door Hester Dibbits (onderzoeker Cultureel Erfgoed aan de Reinwardt Academie, AHK)
08:50 | Weet wat er speelt binnen het Heritage Lab
09:15 | Tijd om nieuwe mensen te leren kennen
09:30 | Afloop
‘Sensing Walk’ Heritage Lab (max. plek voor 15 personen)
Na afloop van het programma is er de mogelijkheid om deel te nemen aan een korte wandeling over de Knowledge Mile. Hester neemt ons tijdens deze wandeling (+/- 30min) mee naar het Dankbaarheidsmonument waar we in een korte sessie de methodiek Emotienetwerken met elkaar ervaren.
Meer weten over de methodiek Emotienetwerken? 👉🏻 Lees hier meer en bekijk de video
De meetup zal plaatsvinden bij het Heritage Lab op de Reinwardt Academie
Adres: Hortusplantsoen 2, in de aula eerste op de eerste verdieping
We kijken uit naar je komst! Maak kennis met het Heritage Lab, de Knowledge Mile Learning community HvA én leer nieuwe mensen kennen!
I am looking for inspiration on nature-based solutions in Amsterdam. I have a full day in Amsterdam the 6 th of October 2021, and I would love to visit locations having implemented nature-based solutions in impressive ways. I am curious about how Amsterdam has worked with urban biodiversity and how Amsterdam has implemented large-scale nature-based solutions, e.g. green corridors or other kinds of 'wild nature' in the city, for the benefit of people and other species :)
I hope you can help me with advices on where to go and whom to talk with?
My research project: Biocities of the future
The ambition is to develop initiatives that can help urban stakeholders integrate nature-based ideas and design strategies in urban development. The project includes prototyping a dialogue tool and testing if it could supplement the international certification tool DGNB Urban Districts.
I study how nature-based ideas integrate in urban development of today, and I identify some of the main drivers, paradoxes, consequences, and challenges, related to these integrations. The project focus is urban development inspired by nature’s ability to regenerate, through e.g., biomimicry and regenerative and biophilic design thinking.
My research is based on a cooperation between three Danish organisations:
City & Port - develop large scale urban areas in Copenhagen, DK
The Royal Danish Academy - Architecture, Design, Conservation
Bloxhub Science Forum - a nordic innovation hub for sustainable urbanization
You can read more about the research project using the website link
Barcelona is one of the oldest examples of a city that deploys technology as part of its government. Sensor networks have been producing an array of data on transport, energy usage, noise levels, irrigation, and many other topics without having much impact on the life of citizens or solving the underlying problems.
In 2015, Francesca Bria, chief technology, together with mayor Ada Colau started to reverse the smart city paradigm: Instead of starting from technology and extracting all the data we started aligning the tech agenda with the agenda of the city, she said.
One of the first challenges was using technology to increase ordinary citizen’s impact on policy. A group of civic-minded coders and cryptographers created a brand-new participatory platform, Decidem (which means We Decide in Catalan). For more information watch the video below.
Spain offers more inspiring examples. The city of Madrid has also created a participatory citizen platform, not for chance called Decide Madrid, which is in many respects comparable with Decidem, as this short video demonstrates.
The most important features of both platforms are:
Active participation in policy making
Citizens are stimulated to suggest ideas, debating them, and vote. In Barcelona, more than 40.000 citizens have suggested proposals, which form 70% of the agenda of the city administration. The most frequently mentioned concerns are affordable housing, clean energy, air quality and the public space.
The Municipal Action Plan of Barcelona includes almost 7,000 proposals from citizens. Decidem enables citizens to monitor the state of implementation of each of them to increase citizen’s engagement.
Decide Madrid and Decidem emphasize the value of being informed as starting point for deliberation. Citizens can start discussions on their own and participate in threaded discussions started by others.
As soon as citizens feel informed and have exchanged opinions voting can start. Both Decide Madrid as Decidemhave a space where citizens can make proposals and seeks support. Proposals that reach enough support are prepared for voting. These votes generally are advising the city council.
Decide Madrid enables citizens amendment legislative texts. The public is allowed to commend any part of it and to suggest alternatives. This also might result in discussions and the suggestions are used to improve the formulations.
Decidem and Decide Madrid are also data portals that show data that have been collected in the city, partly on citizens themselves. Decidem has the intention, because of its participation in the European project Decode to enable citizens to control the use of data of their own for specific purposes.
As not every citizen has a computer or is skilled to use the Internet platforms, both cities combine virtual discussions and discussion in a physical space.
It is not only the traditional rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid that has inspired the development of two comparable systems, independently from each other. It is also the fact that the Spanish people had to fight for democracy until rather recently. Democratic institutions that have long existed in many other countries had to be reinvented, but with a 20th-century twist.
The community of Madrid has developed Decide Madrid together with CONSUL, a Madrid-based company. CONSUL enables cities to develop citizen participation on the Internet quickly and save. The package is very comprehensive. The software and its use are free. CONSUL can be adjusted by each organization to meet its own needs. As a result, Consul is in use in 130 cities and organizations in 33 countries (see the map above) and reaches out around 90 million citizens worldwide.
In contrast with e-Estonia, the topic of a former post, the footing of Decidem and Decide Madrid is enabling citizens to make their voice heard and to participate in decision-making. Both cities offer excellent examples of e-governance. e-Governance reflects the mutual communication between municipal authorities and citizens using digital tools to align decision making with the needs and wants of citizens. Instead, the intention of e-Estonia is to improve the efficiency of the operation of the state. Both aims are complementary.
I will regularly share ‘snapshots’ of the challenge of bringing socially and ecologically sustainable cities closer using technology if useful. These posts represent findings, updates, and additions to my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.