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IoT has a fluid state now; as we live and interact in an increasingly connected reality. We also see this evolving into new extremes, such as the discussions about Web3, the metaverse, and digital twins. At ThingsCon we feel the need to extend this discourse into understanding more about what is the real//real and what is virtual//real. 9 & 10 June the ThingsCon will meet again in person after two online editions in Rotterdam to exchange the latest insights and mark this new reality.
De Britse innovatiestichting Nesta lanceert vandaag een rapport met aanbevelingen voor het beschermen van de privacy van burgers in de digitale openbare ruimte. Nesta roept steden en lokale overheden op om lokale bevoegdheden slim in te zetten om het gat te vullen tussen de technologische ontwikkelingen en regulering op nationaal en Europees niveau.
In opdracht van de Cities Coalition for Digital Rights (CC4DR), waar Amsterdam deel van uitmaakt, heeft innovatiestichting Nesta onderzocht hoe Europese steden en regio's de privacy van hun inwoners beter kunnen beschermen, vooral als het gaat om gegevens die door de private sector worden ingewonnen. Denk aan eye-tracking-camera's die in billboards zijn ingebouwd, of incassobedrijven die gebruik maken van nummerplaatherkenning (ANPR-camera’s), of het gebruik van wifitracking door ondernemers.
Uit de praktijkvoorbeelden die het in rapport When Billboards Stare Back. How Cities Can Reclaim The Digital Public Space zijn verzameld, blijken gemeenten voorop te lopen met innovatief beleid voor sensoren in de openbare of semi-private ruimtes, dat de inzet van onder meer camera’s of geluidssensoren beperkt en ervoor zorgt dat het recht op privacy niet wordt ondermijnd. De gemeente Amsterdam heeft bijvoorbeeld om deze reden een meldingsplicht voor sensoren opgenomen in de Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening.
Het rapport laat zien dat nationale overheden de technologische ontwikkelingen in de publieke ruimte niet altijd goed kunnen bijbenen. Ook blijkt dat er onvoldoende Europese of nationale wetgeving is om technologische ontwikkelingen altijd goed te reguleren. Als er wetgeving is dan zijn de regels veelal abstract, waardoor ze in de praktijk niet altijd goed zijn toe te passen.
Daarom roept Nesta steden en lokale overheden op om het gat tussen de technologische ontwikkelingen en regulering op nationaal en Europees niveau op te vullen door slim gebruik te maken van bevoegdheden. Daarbij is het belangrijk dat steden privacy en grondrechten van hun burgers vooropstellen en tegelijkertijd verantwoorde nieuwe manieren van dienstverlening en innovatie van de private sector stimuleren. Zo wordt de persoonlijke levenssfeer van burgers ook beschermd in de publieke ruimte.
Aanbevelingen voor steden en lokale overheden
Het rapport bevat een aantal concrete acties die steden kunnen ondernemen om hun invloed en effectiviteit te vergroten bij het beschermen van de gegevens van hun inwoners en bezoekers.
• Maak effectief en slim gebruik van de bevoegdheden en instrumenten die steden al hebben zoals vergunningverlening en inkoop, zodat private partijen verantwoord omgaan met de inzet van sensoren in de publieke ruimte.
• Betrek private partijen, burgers en het maatschappelijk middenveld op een ‘bottom-up’ manier. Pak daarbij een communicatieve en bemiddelende rol.
• Zorg dat gegevensbescherming standaard onderdeel uitmaakt van het werk en integreer privacy expertise in de organisatie.
• Pas de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming aan door het introduceren van een plicht om Data Protection Impact Assessments vooraf aan datacollectie in de publieke ruimte te melden bij lokale overheden en de toezichthouders.
• Zorg voor bewustwording over de positie van steden bij datacollectie door private partijen en lobby voor effectiever toezicht op sensoren in de fysieke publieke ruimte, en specifiek voor publieke ruimten die beheerd worden door private partijen.
De Cities Coalition for Digital Rights (CC4DR) is een internationaal netwerk van steden die samen optrekken op het gebied van digitale rechten en beleidsvorming. De coalitie is in november 2018 gelanceerd door Amsterdam, Barcelona en New York en inmiddels zijn zo’n 50 steden wereldwijd lid van de coalitie.
De coalitie zet zich in voor het bevorderen en verdedigen van digitale rechten in de stedelijke context door middel van juridische, ethische en operationele kaders om mensenrechten in digitale omgevingen te bevorderen. Gezamenlijke acties in netwerken zoals de CC4DR zijn essentieel om als gemeenten samen de uitdagingen aan te gaan die digitale technologieën met zich meebrengen. Gemeente Amsterdam is een van de oprichters van de coalitie en de uitdaging die aanleiding was voor het onderzoeksrapport van Nesta speelt ook in Amsterdam: sensoren en apparaten in de fysieke openbare en semi-private ruimte waarmee bedrijven persoonlijke gegevens verzamelen en waarmee het recht op privacy wordt ondermijnd. In samenwerking met andere steden en organisaties wordt samengewerkt om hier een antwoord op te vinden.
Lees het volledige rapport hier
Fotocredit: Sandro Gonzalez
Vorige week heb ik de community geattendeerd op de publicatie van mijn e-book Better cities and digitization. Dat is een compilatie van de 23 posts op deze website het afgelopen half jaar.
Inmiddels is ook de Nederlandstalige versie Steden en digitalisering beschikbaar. Ik sta daarin eerst stil bij de technocentrische en de mensgerichte benadering van smart cities. Daarna problematiseer ik de roep om 'datagestuurd beleid'. Ik ga vervolgens uitvoerig in op ethische principes bij de beoordeling van technologieën. Vervolgens beschrijf ik een procedure hoe steden met digitalisering zouden kunnen omgaan, te beginnen met Kate Raworth. Ook het digitaliseringsbeleid van Amsterdam krijgt aandacht. Daarna komen vier toepassingen aan de orde: bestuur, energie, mobiliteit en gezondheidszorg. Wie doorleest tot op de laatste bladzijde ziet dat Amsterdam Smart City het laatste woord krijgt;-)
Via de link hieronder kun je dit boek gratis downloaden.
De komende jaren pakt Europa haar rol op het gebied van digitalisering en technologisering. Er komen maar liefst 19 Europese wetten aan die stuk voor stuk net zo ingrijpend zijn als de AVG. Tijdens een webinar op 2 juni van 16.00 - 1700.00 uur leert u van Jonas Onland (VNG) wat dat voor uw organisatie betekent.
De Europese wetten hebben veel impact op de macht van de techbedrijven. Maar ook op de manier waarop de slimme stad wordt ontwikkeld. Maar zijn we wel goed voorbereid op de komst van die nieuwe wetten? En wat houden ze precies in? Wat zijn de gevolgen van die wetten voor de ontwikkeling van smart cities? Zijn bedrijven en gemeenten voorbereid?
Daarover geeft Jonas Onland (Programma leider Digital Transformation & Europe VNG) op 2 juni 2022 een presentatie én gaat met u in gesprek.
Datum: 2 juni van 16.00 – 17.00 uur
Locatie: Online (u ontvangt een dag van tevoren de link)
Heeft u vragen voor Jonas Onland? Stel ze dan alvast via het aanmeldformulier.
For 23 weeks I have published weekly episodes of the series Better Cities. The role of digital technology on this site. I have edited and compiled these episodes in an e-book (88 pages). You can download this for free via the link below. The book has 17 chapters that are grouped into six parts:
1. Hardcore: Technology-centered approaches
2. Towards a humancentric approach
3. Misunderstanding the use of data
4. Ethical considerations
5. Embedding digitization in urban policy
6. Applications (government, mobility, energy and healthcare)
7. Wrapping up: Better cities and technology
Het rijk geïllustreerde Kennisdossier Duurzame energie (150 pagina’s) is een compilatie van 75 artikelen en blogposts over de energietransitie. Je kunt het via onderstaande link gratis downloaden.
Het bevat de volgende hoofdstukken:
1. Feiten om te onthouden
2. Bronnen van duurzame energie in Nederland
3. Openstaande keuzen: Vier scenario’s
4. Hoeveel zonnepanelen passen in Nederland
5. Energietransitie mogelijk dankzij de zonnecel
6. Van zonnepaneel naar zonnedak en zonnepan
7. Zonnepanelen kunnen (bijna) overal liggen
8. Recycling zonnepanelen: naar de maan en terug
9. Manieren om netwerkverzwaring te voorkomen
10. Smart grids: Waar techniek, digitale en sociale innovatie samenkomen
11. Samenwerken in een energiecoöperatie
12. Duurzaam maken van je woning: Voor jezelf en de aarde
13. Naar een rechtvaardige energietransitie
14. Zonder energieopslag geen energietransitie
17. Verwijderen, opvangen en opslaan van CO2
18. Kernsplitsing en kernfusie
20. Onze toekomstige energievoorziening
In de afgelopen maanden is de maatschappelijke en politieke discussie over de vestiging van datacentra in een stroomversnelling geraakt. Naar aanleiding van de plannen voor de bouw van een groot datacentrum bij Zeewolde is veel gesproken over nut, noodzaak en wenselijkheid van vestiging van dit soort faciliteiten in Nederland. Daarbij kwamen zorgen naar boven over de verhouding tussen het energie- en grondstoffengebruik van datacentra en hun maatschappelijke en economische meerwaarde. Ook was er kritiek op hoe de besluitvorming over de vestiging van datacentra bestuurlijk is ingericht.
Het rapport 'Beter beslissen over datacentra' van het Rathenau Instituut onderzoekt de maatschappelijke betekenis van datacentra en de besluitvorming over hun vestiging. Het maakt inzichtelijk wat datacentra zijn, hoe ze werken en hoe ze onderling van elkaar verschillen, welke kwesties er spelen en hoe deze kwesties op dit moment bestuurd worden op lokaal, regionaal en nationaal niveau. De analyse mondt uit in vijf aanbevelingen voor een goede publieke governance van de digitale infrastructuur.
Het Rathenau Instituut pleit ervoor om bij de ontwikkeling van beleid, niet te focussen op de (grote) datacentra die nu volop in de belangstelling staan, maar te kijken naar de hele infrastructuur die de digitalisering van onze samenleving mogelijk maakt. Daarbij gaat het ook om kabels, zendmasten, ontvangers, schakelaars en routers, plus de functies die zij in samenhang vervullen. Wat willen we in Nederland met deze infrastructuur? Die vraag zou het voorwerp moeten zijn van een maatschappelijk debat. Naast bestuurders en deskundigen, moeten ook burgers daarbij betrokken zijn. Om het debat te voeden, is ook meer kennis nodig, bijvoorbeeld over de financieel-economische voordelen van datacentra.
De digitale infrastructuur is inmiddels zo belangrijk geworden voor de samenleving dat ze kenmerken heeft van een nutsvoorziening: een essentiële voorziening van algemeen belang. Dit betekent dat publieke waarden leidend moeten zijn bij de governance van deze infrastructuur. Het bestaande energiebeleid kan daartoe als model dienen. Het onderzoek laat zien dat relevante publieke waarden voor de digitale infrastructuur, veel gelijkenis vertonen met de waarden die ten grondslag liggen aan het Nederlandse energiebeleid. Ook hier immers gaat het om betrouwbaarheid, veiligheid, betaalbaarheid, duurzaamheid en goede ruimtelijke inpassing.
Meer hierover kunt u lezen op https://www.rathenau.nl/nl/digitale-samenleving/beter-beslissen-over-datacentra.
Foto bij bericht: Shutterstock
In the last episode of the Better cities: The contribution of digital technology-series, I will answer the question that is implied in the title of the series, namely how do we ensure that technology contributes to socially and environmentally sustainable cities. But first a quick update.
Smart city, what was it like again?
In 2009, IMB launched a global marketing campaign around the previously little-known concept of 'smart city' with the aim of making city governments receptive to ICT applications in the public sector. The initial emphasis was on process control (see episode 3). Especially emerging countries were interested. Many made plans to build smart cities 'from scratch', also meant to attract foreign investors. The Korean city of Songdo, developed by Cisco and Gale International, is a well-known example. The construction of smart cities has also started in Africa, such as Eko-Atlantic City (Nigeria), Konzo Technology City and Appolonia City (Ghana). So far, these cities have not been a great success.
The emphasis soon shifted from process control to using data from the residents themselves. Google wanted to supplement its already rich collection of data with data that city dwellers provided with their mobile phones to create a range of new commercial applications. Its sister company Sidewalk Labs, which was set up for that purpose, started developing a pilot project in Toronto. That failed, partly due to the growing resistance to the violation of privacy. This opposition has had global repercussions and led in many countries to legislation to better protect privacy. China and cities in Southeast Asia - where Singapore is leading the way - ignored this criticism.
The rapid development of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, gave further impetus to discussion about the ethical implications of technology (episodes 9-13). Especially in the US, applications in facial recognition and predictive police were heavily criticized (episode 16). Artificial intelligence had meanwhile become widespread, for example to automate decision-making (think of the infamous Dutch allowance affair) or to simulate urban processes with, for example, digital twins (episode 5).
This current situation - particularly in the Netherlands - can be characterized on the one hand by the development of regulations to safeguard ethical principles (episode 14) and on the other by the search for responsible applications of digital technology (episode 15). The use of the term 'smart city' seems to be subject to some erosion. Here we are picking up the thread.
The dozens of descriptions of the term 'smart city' not only vary widely but they also evoke conflicting feelings. Some see (digital) technology as an effective means of urban growth; others see it as a threat. The question is therefore how useful the term 'smart city' is still. Touria Meliani, alderman of Amsterdam, prefers to speak of 'wise city' than of 'smart city' to emphasize that she is serious about putting people first. According to her, the term 'smart city' mainly emphasizes the technical approach to things. She is not the first. Previously, Daniel Latorre, place making specialist in New York and Francesco Schianchi, professor of urban design in Milan also argued for replacing 'smart' with 'wise'. Both use this term to express that urban policy should be based profoundly on the wishes and needs of citizens.
Whatever term you use, it is primarily about answering the question of how you ensure that people - residents and other stakeholders of a city - are put in the center. You can think of three criteria here:
1. An eye for the impact on the poorest part of the population
There is a striking shift in the literature on smart cities. Until recently, most articles focused on the significance of 'urban tech' for mobility, reduction of energy use and public safety. In a short time, much more attention has been paid to subjects such as the accessibility of the Internet, the (digital) accessibility of urban services and health care, energy and transport poverty and the consequences of gentrification. In other words, a shift took place from efficiency to equality and from physical interventions to social change. The reason is that many measures that are intended to improve the living environment led to an increase in the (rental) price and thus reduce the availability of homes.
2. Substantial share of co-creation
Boyd Cohen distinguishes three types of smart city projects. The first type (smart city 1.0) is technology- or corporate-driven. In this case, companies deliver instruments or software 'off the shelf'. For example, the provision of a residential area with adaptive street lighting. The second type (smart city 2.0) is technology enabled, also known as government-driven. In this case, a municipality develops a plan and then issues a tender. For example, connecting and programming traffic light installations, so that emergency services and public transport always receive the green light. The third type (smart city 3.0) is community-driven and based on citizen co-creation, for example an energy cooperative. In the latter case, there is the greatest chance that the wishes of the citizens concerned will come first.
A good example of co-creation between different stakeholders is the development of the Brain port Smart District in Helmond, a mixed neighborhood where living, working, generating energy, producing food, and regulating a circular neighborhood will go hand in hand. The future residents and entrepreneurs, together with experts, are investigating which state-of-the-art technology can help them with this.
Bias among developers plays a major role in the use of artificial intelligence. The best way to combat bias (and for a variety of other reasons, too) is to use diversity as a criterion when building development teams. But also (ethical) committees that monitor the responsible purchasing and use of (digital) technologies are better equipped for their task the more diverse they are.
Respecting urban complexity
In his essay The porous city, Gavin Starks describes how smart cities, with their technical utopianism and marketing jargon, ignore the plurality of the drivers of human behavior and instead see people primarily as homo economicus, driven by material gain and self-interest.
The best example is Singapore – the number 1 on the Smart City list, where techno-utopianism reigns supreme. This one-party state provides prosperity, convenience, and luxury using the most diverse digital aids to everyone who exhibits desirable behavior. There is little room for a differing opinion. A rapidly growing number of CCTV cameras – soon to be 200,000 – ensures that everyone literally stays within the lines. If not, the culprit can be quickly located with automatic facial recognition and crowd analytics.
Anyone who wants to understand human life in the city and does not want to start from simplistic assumptions such as homo economicus must respect the complexity of the city, try to understand it, and know that careless intervention might have huge unintended consequences.
The complexity of the city is the main argument against the use of reductionist adjectives such as 'smart', but also 'sharing', circular, climate-neutral', ‘resilient' and more. In addition, the term smart refers to a means that is rarely seen as an aim as such. If an adjective were desirable, I prefer the term 'humane city'.
But whatever you name a city, it is necessary to emphasize that it is a complex organism with many facets, the coherence of which must be well understood by all stakeholders for the city to prosper and its inhabitants to be happy.
Digitization. Two tracks
City authorities that are aware of the complexity of their city can best approach digitization along two tracks. The first aims to translate the city's problems and ambitions into policy and consider digital instruments a part of the whole array of other instruments. The second track is the application of ethical principles in the search for and development of digital tools. Both tracks influence each other.
Track 1: The contribution of digital technology
Digital technology is no more or less than one of the instruments with which a city works towards an ecologically and socially sustainable future. To articulate what such a future is meaning, I introduced Kate Raworth's ideas about the donut economy (episode 9). Designing a vision for the future must be a broadly supported democratic process. In this process, citizens also check the solution of their own problems against the prosperity of future generations and of people elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, policy makers must seamlessly integrate digital and other policy instruments, such as legislation, funding, and information provision (episode 8).
The most important question when it comes to (digital) technology is therefore which (digital) technological tools contribute to the realization of a socially and ecologically sustainable city.
Track 2: The ethical use of technology
In the world in which we realize the sustainable city of the future, digital technology is developing rapidly. Cities are confronted with these technologies through powerful smart city technology marketing. The most important question that cities should ask themselves in this regard is How do we evaluate the technology offered and that we want to develop from an ethical perspective. The first to be confronted with this question—besides hopefully the industry itself—is the department of the Chief Information or Technology officer. He or she naturally participates in the first track-process and can advise policymakers at an early stage. I previously inventoried (ethical) criteria that play a role in the assessment of technological instrument.
In the management of cities, both tracks come together, resulting in one central question: Which (digital) technologies are eligible to support us towards a sustainable future in a responsible way. This series has not provided a ready-made answer; this depends on the policy content and context. However, the successive editions of this series will have provided necessary constituents of the answer.
In my e-book Cities of the Future. Always humane, smart if helpful, I have carried out the policy process as described above, based on current knowledge about urban policy and urban developments. This has led to the identification of 13 themes and 75 actions, with references to potentially useful technology. You can download the e-book here:
How can European cities and regions use “sandboxing” methodologies to develop their data ecosystems? This is the central question explored in the project: "Regional and local data-driven
innovation through collective intelligence and sandboxing”.
The purpose of the project is to support the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in identifying and assessing the impact of the development of regional and local data ecosystems on policy and data-driven public sector innovation.
The project has analyzed existing data ecosystems at local and regional level and has supported the cities of Barcelona, Helsinki, Milan and Poznan in experimenting with different sandboxing approaches, aiming to strengthen their data ecosystems, and draw policy lessons for data-driven innovation.
In the context of this project, “sandboxing” refers to testing solutions in a safe environment, with a focus on technical and organizational innovations to enable more efficient and effective delivery of public services through data sharing and reuse. As a result of ongoing interaction with cities, we learnt that it is helpful to differentiate between three types of sandboxing:
- Technical sandboxing: This refers to the process of safely developing and testing new applications before operationalising them. Within the project, technical sandboxing focused on enabling more visualization and analytics tools, as different data sources were combined.
- Traditional (technical) sandboxing: Traditionally, new applications are developed and tested in an isolated technical environment or sandbox before incorporating them into the operating environment. This continues to be a well-used and effective mechanism. There are, however, other options that allow development and testing to take place in a carefully managed way within an operating environment.
- Institutional sandboxing: While the sandbox is primarily a technical environment, the main barriers to developing and producing value in data ecosystems are non-technical. Institutional sandboxing refers to activities aimed at developing and testing solutions to these institutional barriers. Within the project, the institutional sandboxing focused on best practices and policies for Business to Government (B2G) data sharing, such as
incentives, contracts and partnerships to acquire private sector data.
To better understand the experience from other European cities and their stakeholders in using sandboxing to improve data-driven innovation, the project team invites all stakeholders to share their experience with using sandboxing activities to develop data ecosystem via our short Validation Survey which should only take 10-15 min to complete: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcucuuprDIvH9z1j6XP-fMtM6dxgYuySWaX
All interested stakeholders are also invited to participate in a Validation Workshop on April 28, 14:00-16:00 CET, where the project team will present and validate the key findings from the project which focus on challenges and best practices in implementing sandboxing to develop data ecosystems.
The agenda for the workshop will be communicate shortly. Registration is possible via the following link:
The 22nd and penultimate episode in the *Better cities: The contribution of digital technology-*series will discuss two ambitious ‘smart city’plans of two governments and the associated risks.
Recently, the European Commission launched a 100-city plan, the EU Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities. One hundred European cities that aspire to be climate neutral by 2030 (you read that correctly) can register and count on supplemental funding. I immediately thought of another 100-city plan, India's Smart City Mission. In 2015, Prime Minister Modi announced that in six years 100 Indian cities would become 'smart'. The official term of the project has now ended, and I will examine below whether this goal has been achieved, I discuss the two plans and then explain why I call both of them a leap forward. At the end I will make a few suggestions for how the European mission can still learn from the Indian one.
India's Smart City Mission
In India, 377 million people live in cities. In 15 years, 200 million will have been added. Already, traffic in Indian cities has come to a complete standstill, each year more than 600,000 people die from air pollution, half of the urban areas have no drinking water connection, waste collection is poor and only 3% of sewage is treated. The rest is discharged into surface water, which is also the main source of drinking water.
The Smart City Mission was intended to implement substantial improvements on all these problems in 100 cities, which together comprise 30% of the population. In the improvements digital technology had to play an important role.
The 100 cities were selected because of favorable prospects and the quality of the plans, which usually consisted of a long series of projects.
The regular city governing bodies were deemed incompetent to lead the projects. That is why management boards (‘special purpose vehicles’) have been appointed, operating under company law and led by a CEO, supported by international consultancy firms. All rights and duties of the City Council regarding the execution of the mission were delegated to the appointed boards, including the power to collect taxes! Not surprisingly, this decision has been challenged in many places. Several cities have withdrawn from 'the mission' for this reason.
To implement their projects, each city would receive $150 million over five consecutive years. This money should be seen as seed capital to be supplemented from additional sources such as public-private partnerships, commercial bank lending, external financing, loans, and foreign investment.
Area-oriented and pan-urban approach
The plans contain two components: an area-oriented and a pan-urban approach. The first aims at adapting, retrofitting or new construction and should relate to a wide range of 'smart services'. For example high-speed internet, waste facilities, parking facilities, energy-efficient buildings, but also replacement of slums by high-rise buildings. The slick 'architectural impressions' that circulated at the beginning of the planning period (see above) mainly concern the area-oriented approach.
The pan-urban approach includes at least one 'smart' facility for a larger part of the city. The choice is often made to improve the transport infrastructure, for example the construction of new roads and highways and the purchase of electric buses. No fewer than 70 cities have built a 'smart' control center based on the example of Rio de Janeiro, which I believe was rather premature.
Now that the official term of 'the mission' has ended, a first inventory can be made, although observers complain about a lack of transparency about the results. About half of all the 5000 projects that have been started have not (yet) been completed and a significant part of the government funds have not yet been disbursed. This could still happen in the coming years. This is also because attracting external resources has lagged behind expectations. These funds came mainly from governments, and large technology companies. This has had an impact on the implementation of the plans.
The slow progress of most projects is partly because most of the population was barely aware of the mission and that city councils were not always cooperative either.
It was foreseen that half of the available resources would go to area-oriented projects; this eventually became 75-80%. As a result, on average only 4% of the inhabitants of the cities involved have benefited from 'the mission' and even then it is not clear what the benefits exactly entail. The city of New Delhi covers an area of almost 1500 km2, while the area concerned is only 2.2 km2: So you're not even going to have 100 smart cities. You're going to have 100 smart enclaves within cities around the country, said Shivani Chaudhry, director of the Housing and Land Rights Network.
It soon became clear that the mission would be no more than a drop in the ocean. Instead of $150 million, it would take $10 billion per city, $1000 billion in total, to address all ambitions, according to an official calculation. Deloitte was a little more modest, calculating the need for $150 billion in public money and $120 billion from private sources.
Type of projects
The many topics eligible for funding have resulted in a wide variety of projects. Only one city has put the quality of the environment first. Most cities have initiated projects in the areas of clean energy, improving electricity supply, reducing air pollution, construction of new roads, purchasing electric buses, waste disposal and sanitation. What is also lacking, is a focus on human rights, gender, and the interests of the poorest population groups.
In some places, it has been decided to clear slums and relocate residents to high-rise buildings on the outskirts of the city. Indian master architect Doshi warns that the urban vision behind the smart city plans will destroy the informality and diversity that is the cornerstone of the country's rural and urban society. He challenges planners to shift the emphasis to rural areas and to create sufficient choices and opportunities there.
The European Mission on Climate-neutral and Smart Cities
Cities produce more than 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and use more than 65% of total energy. In addition, cities in Europe only cover 4% of the total surface area and accommodate 75% of the population. The ecological footprint of the urban population is more than twice what it is entitled to, assuming a proportional distribution of the earth's resources.
On November 25, 2021, the European Commission called on European cities to express their interest in a new European mission on Climate-neutral and smart cities. The mission aims to have 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, which will act as a model for all other European cities.
The sectors involved in this transformation process are the built environment, energy production and distribution, transport, waste management, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, forestry, and other land uses and large-scale deployment of digital technology. That is why the European Commission talks of a green and digital twin, or a simultaneous green and digital transformation.
Reaching the stated goal requires a new way of working and the participation of the urban population, hence the motto 100 climate neutral cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens.
According to the plan's authors, the main obstacle to climate transition is not a lack of climate-friendly and smart technology, but the inability to implement it. The current fragmented form of governance cannot bring about an ambitious climate transition. Crucial to the success of the mission is the involvement of citizens in their various roles as political actors, users, producers, consumers, or owners of buildings and means of transport.
The additional investment to achieve the mission is estimated at €96 billion for 100 European cities by 2030, with a net positive economic benefit to society of €25 billion that will increase further in the period thereafter. The European Commission will provide €360 million in seed funding.
The overwhelming amount of funding will have to come from banks, private equity, institutional investors, and from the public sector at the local, regional and national level.
What went wrong with the Indian Mission and its follow-up
The gap between ambitions and reality
Almost all comments on 'the mission' emphasize that three necessary conditions were not met from the start, namely a widely accepted governance model, adequate funding, and involvement of the population and local government. There was an unbridgeable gap between ambitions and available resources, with the contribution of external capital being grossly overestimated.
The biggest problem, however, is the gap between the mission's ambitions and the nature of the problems that India it faces: Cities are bursting at the seams because of the millions of poor people who flock to cities every year in search of work and a place to live that find them only in the growing slums. The priorities for which the country must find a solution are therefore: improving life in rural areas, improving housing in the cities, ensuring safe drinking water, waste disposal, sanitation, and purification of wastewater, good (bus) transport and less polluting car traffic. Urgently needed is a sustainable development model that addresses ecological problems, makes urbanization manageable, controls pollution and will use resources efficiently.
The 'Mission' is a leap forward, which does not tackle these problems at the root, but instead seeks a solution in 'smartification'. Policymakers were captivated by the promises made by IBM and other technology companies that ICT is the basis for solving most urban problems. A view that I objected in the third episode of this series. IC solutions have been concentrated in enclaves where businesses and prosperous citizens are welcomed. The Government of India Special Rapporteur on Housing therefore notes that the proposals submitted had a predominant focus on technology rather than prioritizing affordable housing and doubts the correctness of this choice.
Instead of emphasizing the role of digital technology, the focus should have been on equitable, inclusive, and sustainable living areas for all. Not the area-oriented but the pan-urban approach should have prevailed.
Several authors suggest future actions consistent with the above comments:
• Setting a longer time horizon, which is much more in line with the problems as they are felt locally.
• Decentralization, coupled with strengthening local government in combination with citizen participation.
• A more limited number of large-scale pan-urban projects. These projects should have an immediate impact on all 4000 Indian cities and the surrounding countryside.
• More attention for nature and the environment instead of cutting down trees to widen motorways.
• Training programs in the field of urbanization, partly to align urban development with Indian culture.
The European mission revisited
Europe and India are incomparable in many ways, but I do see similarities between the two missions.
With the proclamation of the 'mission', the Indian government wanted to show the ultimate – perhaps desperate – act of determination to confront the country's overwhelming problems. I therefore called this mission a flight forward in which the image of the 'smart city' was used as a catalyst. However, the country’s problems are out of proportion to this, and the other means employed.
It is plausible that the European Union Commission also wanted to take an ultimate act. After the publication of the ambitious European Green Deal, each national governments seems to be drawing its own plan. The ‘100 cities mission’ is perhaps intended as a 'booster', but here too the feasibility of this strategy is doubtful.
Smart and green
The European Union cherishes the image of a 'green and digital twin', a simultaneous green and digital transformation. Both the Government of India and the European Commission consider digital technology an integral part of developing climate neutral cities. I hope to have made it clear in the previous 21 episodes of this series that digital technology will certainly contribute. However, the reduction of greenhouse gases and digitization should not be seen as an extension of each other. Making a city climate neutral requires way more than (digital) technology. Moreover, suitable technology is still partly under development. It is often forgotten that technology is one of the causes of global warming. Using the image of green and smart twins will fuel the tension between the two, just like it happened in India. In that case, it remains to be seen where the priority will lie. In India it was 'smart'.
Funding of the Indian mission fell short; much is still unclear about funding of the European mission. It is highly questionable whether European states, already faced with strong opposition to the costs of 'climate', will be willing to channel extra resources to cities.
The European mission wants to be by and for the citizens. But the goal has already been established, namely becoming climate neutral by 2030. A new 'bottom-up' governmental approach would have been to investigate whether there are cities where a sufficiently large part of the population agrees with becoming climate neutral earlier than in 2050 and how much sooner that could be and next, leave it to these cities themselves to figure-out how to do this.
Can Europe still prevent its mission from failing like India's? I propose to look for in the same direction as India seems to be doing now:
• Opt for one unambiguous goal: Reducing greenhouse gases significantly earlier than 2050.
• Challenge a limited number of cities each to form a broad coalition of local stakeholders that share this ambition.
• Make extra resources available, but also ask the cities themselves to make part of the necessary investments.
• Stimulate universities and industry to provide a European response to Big Tech and to make connections with the 'European Green Deal'.
My e-book Smart City Tales contains several descriptions of intended and alleged smart cities, including the much-discussed Saudi Arabian Neom. The Dutch version is here.
De inzet van drones in steden is volop in ontwikkeling en kan in de nabije toekomst helpen bij het oplossen van allerlei vraagstukken. Maar naast kansen brengt de technologie ook risico’s met zich mee, zoals schending van privacy en dreigingen op het gebied van veiligheid en cybersecurity. Wat is er nodig om drones verantwoord toe te passen?
Het Responsible Sensing Lab, Amsterdam Drone Lab en Amsterdam Smart City sloegen de handen ineen om deze vraag te beantwoorden middels een reeks kennis- en designsessies in het Responsible Drones project. Het Lab brengt nu een rapport uit vol inzichten en adviezen voor verantwoord dronegebruik. De vijf inzichten die centraal staan:
De gemeente Amsterdam onderzoekt op basis van de 4 vastgestelde rollen (gebruiker, regelgever, faciliteerder en beschermheer) de kansen van zinvolle drone toepassingen in de openbare ruimte.
Voor verantwoord droneverkeer moet de proportionaliteit van de toepassing getoetst worden. Vandaag de dag zijn er nog geen spelregels rondom de maatschappelijke proportionaliteit van drones.
Bewoners en maatschappelijke organisaties moeten bij ontwikkelingen rondom drones sterker worden aangehaakt én aangehaakt blijven. Momenteel vinden projecten rondom de toepassing van drones voornamelijk plaats in de vorm van publiek-private samenwerkingen waarin marktpartijen sterk vertegenwoordigd zijn.
Toekomstscenario’s met drones lijken voor veel mensen nog ver weg en er is over het algemeen weinig kennis over dit onderwerp. Door de complexiteit is de dialoog met burgers over drones een uitdaging.
Drones roepen snel argwaan op bij burgers. Heldere communicatie over drones verhoogt de publieke acceptatie en maakt tegenspraak door burgers mogelijk.
Benieuwd naar de toelichting en bijbehorende adviezen van deze vijf inzichten? Download een korte of lange versie van het rapport op: https://responsiblesensinglab.org/nl/projecten/responsible-drones#report.
Afbeelding: © Dutch Drone Delta, Antea Group
Tijdens de Staat van het Internet 2022 steekt Waag samen met SIDN Fonds, De Groene Amsterdammer, CTO Amsterdam en de OBA de peilstok in het internet.
Nani Jansen Reventlow, mensenrechtenadvocaat, geeft dit jaar de lezing, die zowel online als live bij te wonen is vanuit de centrale OBA in Amsterdam. Coreferent is Renske Leijten, kamerlid voor de SP en bekend vaan haar werk in de commissie digitale zaken en bij het blootleggen van het toeslagenschandaal.
In de begindagen van het internet waren de idealen groot: een open, nieuwe, vrije wereld waarin iedereen gelijk is. Maar 25 jaar later staan we er heel anders voor.
De kritiek op big tech zwelt aan. Waar sociale media en online diensten lang konden opereren onder troebele gebruiksvoorwaarden en met ondoorzichtige algoritmes, komt nu schandaal na schandaal aan het licht. Of het nu gaat om Meta, het moederbedrijf van Facebook en Instagram, of Google: ze liggen onder vuur voor de onduidelijke manier waarop ze gebruikersdata verzamelen, en voor het aanzwengelen van polarisatie.
Het scala aan problemen omvat grote vraagstukken als privacy, zelfbeschikking, propaganda en platformisering. De meer humane en eerlijke ‘samenleving’ die we ons begin jaren negentig voorstelden, klinkt inmiddels als een utopie. Discriminerende algoritmes, datalekken, conspiracy theories en bedreigingen zijn aan de orde van de dag.
In het nieuwe coalitieakkoord lezen we: ‘het is extra belangrijk dat er een publiek mediadomein is: een herkenbare, onafhankelijke en betrouwbare bron van informatie.’ Waag doet bijvoorbeeld binnen het project PublicSpaces onderzoek naar een veilige digitale publieke ruimte, en hoe we deze moeten inrichten.
Maar de vraag blijft: hoe komen we tot een internet dat open, eerlijk en inclusief is? En wat is er echt nodig om over te stappen van de oude, troebele sociale media naar nieuwe initiatieven? Tijd om te rebooten. In de Staat van het Internet 2022 starten we Operatie Opnieuw Opstarten.
Bij de Staat van het Internet steekt Waag jaarlijks de peilstok in het internet. De lezing wordt dit jaar gegeven door Nani Jansen Reventlow, prijswinnende mensenrechtenadvocaat, gespecialiseerd in strategische procesvoering op het snijvlak van mensenrechten, sociale rechtvaardigheid en technologie.
Waar: Theaterzaal, Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA Oosterdok). Online bijwonen kan ook (beide gratis).
Wanneer: donderdag 31 maart, 16:00-18:00 uur.
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.
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’.
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.
Volgende week donderdag 17 maart vindt de tweede editie van Demodag #15 plaats. De thema’s Digitaal en Mobiliteit staan centraal, en het programma is inmiddels rond. Naast een paar mooie initiatieven en complexe vraagstukken, wordt er dit keer ook een korte webinar gegeven door de Hogeschool van Amsterdam en de Johan Cruijff ArenA. Deze introductie van datamanagement geeft een goede theoretische basis voor een van de daaropvolgende werksessie.
De Demodagen zijn onderdeel van ons innovatieproces en bedoeld om de voortgang van verschillende innovatieprojecten te stimuleren, hulpvragen op tafel te leggen, dilemma's te delen en anderen te betrekken bij projecten of uitdagingen. Meer informatie over wat de Demodagen precies zijn en waarom je mee wilt doen, vind je hier.
Klinkt het programma interessant? Je bent meer dan welkom om aan te sluiten. Laat het ons weten in de comments of mail naar firstname.lastname@example.org!
Amaze Mobility - Amaze Mobility
Amaze is een gedreven startup, die nauw samenwerkt met deelmobiliteit-aanbieders om het doolhof van gedeelde en duurzame mobiliteit te ontrafelen. Ondersteund door een consortium van experts uit de industrie, won Amaze een openbare aanbesteding in Amsterdam. Afgelopen jaren heeft Amaze met een ervaren team van 11 man geïnvesteerd in het ontwerpen en bouwen van een platform en app. Met deze app kunnen gebruikers kiezen hoe ze willen reizen op het moment dat zij dat nodig hebben.
Schinkelkwartier - Architectural Prescription
[PITCH IN ENGLlSH] Based on the example of Schinkelkwartier (The best masterplan in the Netherlands in 2021) the head of Architectural Prescription will deconstruct dilemmas of urban design using parametric analytics and computational tools. Feedback from the community on the digital approach to optimize urban fabric is very welcome.
Datamanagement in de praktijk - Hogeschool van Amsterdam / Johan Cruijff ArenA
Een introductie rondom datamanagement met praktische tips om verantwoord om te gaan met data. Waar moet je op letten als je met data werkt, het ontsluit, verzamelt en bewaart? Wat dien je te regelen om op een juiste manier om te gaan met eigenaarschap en autorisatie van toegang?
Het eigenaarschap en de verantwoordelijkheid van data - Provincie Noord Holland.
Hoe gaan onze overheden om met hun eigen data en data van derden? Welke afspraken maak je over de kwaliteit? Wat ligt bij de business en hoe creëer je bewustzijn? In deze werksessie gaat Provincie Noord-Holland verder in op de uitdagingen op het gebied van data eigenaarschap en verantwoordelijkheid.
Het slimme laadplein - SlimLaden
Vorig jaar is het laadplein met batterijen verstopt in straatmeubilair en slimme, dynamische laadzuilen in Hoofddorp in gebruik genomen. Dit zogenoemde Laadplein-2-Grid is de eerste in zijn soort in Nederland. Maar gaat het aantal EV-rijders in de komende jaren zo toenemen, dat het dynamisch parkeersysteem overbodig gaat zijn? Hoe ziet parkeren er in de toekomst überhaupt uit? Waar moet de focus liggen als je dit concept wilt opschalen?
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.
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.
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.
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.
De stad digitaliseert in rap tempo. Waar je dertig jaar geleden nog zelf de keuze had om in te loggen op De Digitale Stad, kun je nu bijna niet meer uitloggen. De digitale stad is overal: de slimme camera’s op straat, de digitale participatietools voor inspraak en de algoritmes in gemeentelijk beleid. We ontkomen niet meer aan de vraag: hoe willen we technologie inzetten? En hoe niet? Welke waarden liggen hieraan ten grondslag? Kortom: hoe verschillen de politieke partijen in hun visie op die digitale stad?
Waag organiseert het verkiezingsdebat Digitale stad, op woensdag 9 maart in het Anatomisch Theater in de Waag. Er zijn (beperkt) tickets voor de zaal (5 euro incl. drankje) en voor de livestream (gratis) beschikbaar.
Last year the city of Amsterdam released its “Digital City Agenda” showcasing 22 initiatives that aim to protect the digital rights of our fellow citizens. This year, Amsterdam will be one of the first municipalities to ever host a new online public register of sensors to inform its residents and visitors what kind of data is being collected from public space - and most importantly where these sensors are located. In the next 6 months, the municipality will be informing the business community about this new obligation and how it will be enforced.
Between the “Digital City Agenda” and the “Sensor Register” we begin to witness a blurry intersection between privacy protections of the online and offline world we inhabit. As a smart city activist, I was intrigued how these municipal ambitions could be manifested into the design profession. And if so, how architects or urban planners could be involved in this debate.
As Arcam’s Architect in Residence I look forward to the opportunity to ask my fellow architects and urban planners these kinds of thorny questions.
If you are interested in this topic join me and and Indira van 't Klooster on our upcoming talk on privacy and personal data with four national political parties Bij1 , GroenLinks, D66 and Volt who are participating in upcoming Amsterdam municipal elections. See the program and register for “Election Discussion on Privacy in the Public Space” event Saturday, 12 March 2022. Here: https://arcam.nl/events/verkiezingsgesprek-privacy-in-de-publieke-ruimte/
Van 7-11 maart vindt MozFest plaats, een virtueel festival met een belangrijke missie: een eerlijker en beter internet voor iedereen en betrouwbare AI.
Amsterdam is sinds 2021 de thuisbasis voor MozFest wat wordt gehost door de Mozilla Foundation. Met honderden workshops, discussies en talks over onder andere open source hulpmiddelen bouwen, eerlijk omgaan met data en oplossingen voor online desinformatie en intimidatie. Ook gemeente Amsterdam zal dit jaar weer onderdeel zijn van het festival.
MozFest is uniek doordat het door de deelnemers zelf wordt samengesteld. Duizenden technologen, activisten, ondernemers, academici en kunstenaars brengen in meer dan 400 sessies de meest urgente internetproblemen in kaart en werken samen aan oplossingen.
Vanuit gemeente Amsterdam zal een aantal innovatieve projecten onderdeel uitmaken van de programmering. In de vorm van workshops, discussies en talks kom je meer te weten over o.a. AI toepassingen, verantwoorde drones en digitale rechten in Amsterdam.
MozFest wordt door gemeente Amsterdam ondersteund.
Welke activiteiten organiseert de gemeente?
7 maart- 22.45- 23.45 uur
Corona Tech- Behind The Scenes door Siham El Yassini
Tijdens deze sessie wordt een documentaire getoond die inzicht geeft in het gebruik van digitale technologieën door gemeente Amsterdam aan het begin van de corona crisis. De vertoning van de documentaire wordt gevolgd door een Q&A.
8 maart – 16.00 – 17.00 uur
Responsible Drones: discussing the conditions for responsible drone use in cities (and beyond) door Hidde Kamst
Aan welke voorwaarden moeten drones voldoen om op een verantwoorde manier ingezet te worden en wat is de rol van de gemeente hierin? In deze sessie worden de resultaten van het ‘responsible drones’ onderzoeksproject gedeeld en bespreken we met elkaar de mogelijke impact van drones in de stad. De focus ligt op het concretiseren van de toekomstige impact van drones en het betrekken van bewoners bij ontwikkelingen van deze technologie.
11 maart- 15.00- 15.45 uur
Cities for Digital Rights Helpdesk & Governance Framework door Milou Jansen
Tijdens MozFest 2020 is het eerste concept voor een Digital Rights Helpdesk for Cities gepresenteerd. Dit jaar is hieruit een gesubsidieerd internationaal project ontstaan, een eerste versie van het Digitale Rechten Governance Framework opgesteld en is er een helpdesk digitale rechten voor gemeenten binnen de EU ontwikkeld. Het framework en de helpdesk bieden handvatten om digitale rechten in de stad concreet te verbeteren en te waarborgen. Tijdens deze sessie word je uitgenodigd om mee te denken over het plan en betrokken te blijven bij het thema digitale rechten.
11 maart – 16.00-17.30 uur
Building digital spaces in the public interest - Where we are and how to move forward door Sander van der Waal (Waag) en Erik de Vries
Tijdens deze sessie worden de mogelijkheden voor alternatieve sociale platforms besproken. Hoe kunnen we platforms inrichten zodat privacy gewaarborgd blijft en mensen zelf controle houden over hun data? We inventariseren met aanwezigen de componenten voor publieke digitale platformen: wat bestaat al en wat moet nog worden ontwikkeld?
Op de demo-donderdag van 3 maart om 16 uur lanceert Gemeente Amsterdam samen met World Enabled het 'Amsterdam for All'-project. In dit project meten we met behulp van kunstmatige intelligentie de inclusieve toegankelijkheid van de stad.
We kunnen bijvoorbeeld voorspellen op welke stoepen obstakels aanwezig zijn en waar een verlaagde oversteekplaats is - handig voor de communicatie over de toegankelijkheid van winkelstraten en horeca. Zo dragen we bij aan een inclusieve stad, toegankelijk voor alle Amsterdammers.
Sprekers zijn onder andere:
- Ger Baron, CTO en Directeur Digitalisering en Innovatie bij gemeente Amsterdam.
- Dr. Victor Pineda, President van World Enabled een organisatie die zich inzet voor de inclusieve toegankelijkheid van steden.
- Maarten Sukel, AI lead bij Digitalisering en Innovatie van Gemeente Amsterdam en Phd. onderzoeker bij de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Maarten zal vertellen waarom we kunstmatige intelligentie op deze manier moeten inzetten, en geeft wat tastbare voorbeelden van projecten.
- Dr. Jon Froehlich, Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction bij University of Washington, waar hij onder andere werkt aan Project Sidewalk. Hij zal vertellen over het project en hoe dezelfde tool wordt gebruikt om de toegankelijkheid in Amsterdam inzichtelijk te maken.
Kom je ook?
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.
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.
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).