#Policy

Topic within Digital City
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

This week: Start of the third part of the Better cities-series.

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In the first part of the series, I explained why digital technology 'for the good' is a challenge. The second part dealt with ethical criteria behind its responsible use. In the third part I have selected important field that will benefit from the responsible application of digital technology:
16  Abuse of artificial intelligence by the police in the US. More than bias
17  How can digital tools help residents to regain ownership of the city?
18  Will MaaS reduce the use of cars?
19  Digital tools as enablers towards a circular economy
20  Smart grids: where social and digital innovation meet
21  Risks and opportunities of digitization in healthcare
22  Two 100-city missions: Ill-considered leaps forward
23  Epilogue: Beyond the smart city

The link below enables you to open all previous episodes, also in Dutch language.

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Invitation to co-create European transition pathways for more resilient, greener and digital industrial ecosystems

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One of the key priorities of the European Commission is to support the twin transition to a green and digital economy.  One way the Commission is shaping this transition is by co-creating transition pathways for more resilient, green and digital industrial ecosystems, across different sectors.

Within the scope of the Intelligent Cities Challenge, Amsterdam Region contributed to a stakeholder consultation session on 9 February 2022. Mirko van Vliet, Amsterdam Economic Board  Strategic Advisor shared the region’s experience using future scenarios as a tool for assessing developments in inherently unpredictable and complex systems. In this approach, scenarios are not forecasts but alternative images of how the future can unfold. The approach can be used to stimulate discussion and action around key opportunities, threats, driving forces and no regret measures to achieve a desired vision.

Beyond visions, achieving the digital and green transition requires concrete initiatives. Mirko shared the example of LEAP,  a coalition of the willing that aims to speed up the transition to a sustainable digital infrastructure by deploying and accelerating existing and new technologies.  One of the topics explored within LEAP is the possibility of shifting away from hyper-scale, monolithic data-centers to more flexible, distributed and disaggregated infrastructures.  LEAP exemplifies Amsterdam Economic Board's approach to building a robust ecosystem through multi-stakeholder collaboration in order to transition the data-center and digital infrastructure value chains.

Would you like to help shape the transition pathways for more resilient, greener and digital industrial ecosystems?  The Commission is inviting all interested stakeholders to co-create transition pathways for three sectors / ecosystems:

Based on the results of these consultations, the Commission will organise further meetings with stakeholders to finalise the various pathways in 2022.

For more information visit: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/consultations_en

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Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

A closer look at Amsterdam's digitization agenda

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A link to a larger reproduction is here.

In the 14th episode of the Better cities - The contribution of digital technology-series, I investigate the digitization policy of the municipality of Amsterdam based on the guidelines and ethical principles formulated earlier.

Digitalization policy

25 years ago, Amsterdam Digital City was a frontrunner in access to public internet. Now the city wants to lead the way as a free, inclusive, and creative digital city. How the municipality wants to do this is described for the first time in the memorandum A digital city for and by everyone (2019). A year later in the Digital City Agenda (2020), the goals have been reformulated into three spearheads: (1) responsible use of data and technology (2) combating digital inequality and (3) the accessibility of services. These three spearheads resulted in a series of concrete activities, of which a first evaluation was submitted to the municipal council in 2021. 'Protecting digital rights' has been added to the three spearheads. The illustration above is mentioning the four spearheads and the 22 activities.

This article is looking closer at Amsterdam’s digitalization policy by examining how it relates to the guidelines and ethical principles for digitization, which I compiled in the 9th edition. Because of the overlap, I have merged these into one list (see HERE), named Principles for socially responsible digitization policy. This list contains eight principles, each accompanied by a non-exhaustive set of guidelines. For each of these principles, I examine what Amsterdam has achieved until now. The numbers after the principles below refer to one or more of the 22 activities mentioned above. I add an example from outside Amsterdam to each principle.

1. Embedding (1, 4)

The digital agenda is part of a democratically established and coherent urban agenda.
• The Municipality of Amsterdam is building a broad knowledge network in the field of responsible use of data and digital technology together with AMS Institute, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Waag Society, and others. This network will conduct research into the impact of technology on the city.

In 2017, the Foresight Lublin 2050 project was launched in the Polish city of Lublin to define opportunities and threats related to socio-economic, environmental, and technological development. Its mission is that decisions about technology should be made based on the real needs of residents and should be involved in the design and implementation of policies. As part of the democratic nature of decision-making in Lublin, residents determine the allocation of budget resources.

2. Equality, inclusiveness, and social impact (16, 17, 19, 20)

Making information and communication technology accessible to everyone
• The Municipality of Amsterdam is making public services accessible, understandable, and usable for everyone, online and offline. Research among low-literate target groups has provided clues to reach these goals.
• The Online Implementation Agenda provides information about current policy (volg.amsterdam.nl). Mijn Amsterdamprovides information about neighborhood-level projects and opportunities to participate in them.
• Vulnerable citizens will find hardware to use the Internet in several places and free Wi-Fi is also available. Several thousand laptops have been distributed.
• The development of digital skills is supported together with social partners. For example, a 'train-the-trainer' program has been carried out with Cybersoek and the Public Library will introduce all visitors in the coming years to the themes of data literacy and digital freedom.
• Through the partnership with TechConnect 50,000 extra people from underrepresented groups are made aware of the technology labor market.
• The municipality considers the roll-out of the 5G network desirable but is following critical research into the health risks of this network. The 5G Field lab is used to study the applications of 5G and their importance for residents.

Barcelona and Madrid are forerunners regarding of digital participation, thanks to their resp. networks Decide and Decide Madrid. Residents use these networks on a large scale as a source of information and to participate in discussions and (advisory) voting. Much of what the city council discusses came up through these forums.

3. Justice (2, 15, 20)

Prevent that the application of digital systems results in concentration and abuse of power.
• The Amsterdam Intelligence Agenda sets conditions for algorithms to prevent discrimination. Partly in this context, several algorithms will be audited annually, and algorithms will be placed in a register.
• The Civic AI Lab will explore the (unintended) implications of algorithms related to unequal treatment and discrimination.
• An exploration of the best way to provide low-threshold access has been launched for the domains of care and education.

With its 116-page Strategy for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), New York focuses on using AI to better serve residents, building AI know-how within government, modernizing data infrastructure, city policy on AI, developing partnerships with external organizations and promoting equal opportunities.

4. Human Dignity (20)

Prevent technology from alienating people from their unique qualities and instead ensure that it stimulates their fulfillment.
• The 'Modere overheid’ program investigates how digitization can support different domains of the municipal organization. Examples are better matching of job seekers and work, helping 18-year-olds manage their finances, (early) identification of people with debts, providing information about cleaning and management of the city.

The Database of ‘Affordable Housing Listings, Information, and Applications’ allows San Francisco residents to search the entire range of affordable housing and express their interest through a simple, multi-lingual form. A candidate resident is selected from the submitted applications by drawing lots, who then submits a more detailed application. The procedure has been developed entirely in open-source software and other cities are joining this initiative.

5. Autonomy and privacy (3, 5, 6, 14, 15)

Recognition of human autonomy and the right to reside and move in public space without being observed digitally
• The municipality has established a data strategy that gives residents more control over their own data.
• The municipality works with other municipalities on data minimization via the IRMA app. Via this app residents can pass on damage reports. In the future, this app can form the basis for making available a digital identity to all citizens.
• The Responsible Sensing Lab investigates privacy-friendly methods to collect data in a responsible way using sensing. The mmWave sensor, for example, measures crowds without collecting personal data.
• A register maps installed sensors. A sensor regulation will make it mandatory to register sensors in the public space.

To protect residents' privacy, Seattle's government has taken a series of steps that make the city an undisputed frontrunner in this regard. The city has appointed a chief privacy officer, established a set of guiding privacy principles, and established a privacy advisory committee composed of both citizens and government officials. An important part is the implementation of a privacy impact assessment every time the municipality develops a new project in which personal data is collected.

6. Open data, open software, and interoperability (9, 13, 18)

Data architecture, including standards, agreements and norms aimed at reusing data, programs and technology and preventing lock-in.
• The municipal policy regarding open data is 'open, unless. The urban platform data.amsterdam.nl attracts 2500 unique visitors per day.
• The municipality's sourcing and open-source strategy establishes the reuse of existing resources, the use of standards and the availability of software developed by the municipality.
• Together with knowledge institutions and companies, the municipality is developing the Amsterdam Data Exchange, in which the parties involved regulate which data they exchange. Agreements have been made with the Central Dutch Statistics Office (CBS) about making data available.
• The Tada principles are the starting points for responsible data use. They regulate the authority of the users and determine the use of data and that it is open and transparent. It is envisaged that other Amsterdam institutions and companies will also adopt these principles.
• Residents can view their personal data via My Amsterdam. This also applies to entrepreneurs.

To support startups, the Seoul City Council has developed My Neighborhood Analysis, a tool that contains an unprecedented amount of commercial information. This includes datasets from Seoul's entire business ecosystem, such as business licenses, ownership information, rental rates, and transportation ticket data. When users enter information about the proposed business type, they get an overview of business performance in the neighborhood to be explored and an indication of the expected level of risk for a new business. Users can select peer companies to understand their historical performance.

7. Safety (7, 9)

Preventing and combating internet crime and limiting its consequences.
• The municipality has drawn up a Digital Safety Agenda, partly aimed at keeping vital infrastructure in operation.

The municipality of The Hague has developed an IoT security monitor together with Cybersprint. It provides a real-time overview of all connected IoT devices within the city limits with detailed information such as their whereabouts and level of risk. The monitor has so far identified 3100 unsafe devices in The Hague. Usually, insecure devices don't use password or default passwords or outdated software.

8. Operational and Financial Sustainability (12, 20, 21)

Guaranteeing a reliable, robust Internet
• The municipality is in permanent consultation with the Internet and telephone providers to guarantee the stability of the networks.

Rolling out the fiber digital infrastructure accounts for 90% of the total cost. A "Dig Once" policy aims to reduce these costs through collaboration with stakeholders. In the case of new construction, the aim is to carry out all cable and pipeline work in one go, preferably by constructing a small, easily accessible tunnel under the sidewalk or street. This considerably increases the operational reliability of all (digital) facilities. With existing buildings, all maintenance and replacement work should be carried out in one go too.

Challenges

As can be expected, various bottlenecks arise in the implementation of the digital policy in Amsterdam. After all, this is a fast process involving many parties and interests, while technological developments are rapid. A lot of work still must be done in several areas gain support, both within the municipal apparatus, and with companies, organizations and inhabitants. This includes the Tada principles, compliance with the municipal sourcing strategy, the 'open unless' policy and the data minimization policy. There is also work to be done to develop a reliable digital infrastructure and to counteract (unintended) effects when using artificial intelligence. Increasing digital self-reliance and creating the preconditions for all residents to participate digitally requires structural embedding and financing.

Without doubt, the municipality of Amsterdam is energetically digitizing in a responsible manner. The city has a clear picture of the problems it faces and the direction of their solution. For me, as an outside-observer, it is less clear when, in the opinion of the municipality, the policy has been successfully implemented. Actions are taking place regarding each of the eight principles that I have drawn up, but they are not yet a coherent whole. This also applies to other cities too, but some of them are more advanced in certain areas, such as the digital participation of residents of Barcelona, Madrid, Lublin, the privacy policy of Seattle, the provision of information in Seoul and the ethically responsible use of AI in New York. Milou Jansen coordinator of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights says about this strategy: New York's AI Strategy is a bold and inspiring example of how digital rights can find its way into the operationalization of AI policies. It shows the way forward to many other cities around the globe who likewise support an approach grounded in digital rights.

In my opinion, the municipality of Amsterdam has made great strides in the field of privacy (5) and open data (6). The biggest challenges are in the following areas (the numbers refer to the principles formulated by me):
• Embedding of the digitization policy in the other policy areas (1).
• Availability of Internet, computers, and digital skills for vulnerable groups (2).
• Use of digital means to increase the participation of the population in policy development and formulation (2).
• Conditions of workers in the gig economy (3).
• Oversight of the AI systems that make autonomous judgments about people (4).
• Fight against cybercrime (7).
• Future-proof infrastructure (8).

In the next episode I will shift the focus to digitizing activities of other Dutch municipalities.

The link below opens a preliminary overview of the already published and upcoming articles in the series Better cities: the contribution of digital technology. Click HERE for the Dutch version.

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Zoë Spaaij, Project manager , posted

Talkshow: 50 jaar ‘Grenzen aan de groei’ – Wat gaan we de komende 50 jaar doen?

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Op 2 maart is het 50 jaar geleden dat het rapport ‘Grenzen aan de groei’ van de club van Rome verscheen. Het rapport schetste het scenario dat als de westerse maatschappij doorging met de consumptiemaatschappij, een immense catastrofe het gevolg zou zijn. Het rapport werd de aanjager van de milieubeweging van de jaren tachtig en lijkt met de huidige klimaatverandering en biodiversiteitscrisishelaas relevanter dan ooit.

Wat kunnen we, anno 2022, leren van het rapport? Wat is er de afgelopen jaren al wel gedaan en wat moeten we nog doen? Hoe kunnen we vergroening, digitalisering en een circulaire economie inzetten om het tij te keren?
Om deze vragen te beantwoorden en een blik in het verleden en heden te werpen slaan Future City Foundation, Stichting Steenbreek en de SKBN de handen ineen tijdens een online talkshow op 2 maart van 10.00 – 11.00 uur. Mediapartner van dit Webinar is Stadszaken.nl.

Datum: 2 maart, van 10.00 – 11.00 uur
Locatie: Online talkshow onder leiding van Jan-Willem Wesselink
Kosten: Gratis

In het rapport lees je de alarmerende boodschap: “De mensheid kan niet blijven doorgaan zich met toenemende snelheid te vermenigvuldigen en materiële vooruitgang als hoofddoel te beschouwen, zonder daarbij in moeilijkheden te komen. (…) Dat betekent dat we de keuze hebben tussen nieuwe doelstellingen zoeken teneinde onze toekomst in eigen handen te nemen, of ons onderwerpen aan de onvermijdelijk wredere gevolgen van ongecontroleerde groei.”

Welke nieuwe doelstellingen kunnen we nu zoeken om ervoor te zorgen dat we onze toekomst en die van onze kinderen in eigen hand nemen? Daarover gaan we met drie experts (namen volgen z.s.m.) in gesprek.

Wilt u meer weten en meepraten?

Meld u aan

Over de Future City Foundation
De Future City Foundation is een ‘movement of communities’ die zich bezighouden met digitalisering en technologisering van regio’s, steden en dorpen. Wij verbinden professionals bij gemeenten, bedrijven en andere organisaties met elkaar om samen van die regio’s, steden en dorpen slimme gemeenschappen te maken met een gezonder leefomgeving, zoals bedoeld in Sustainable Development Goals van de Verenigde Naties en conform onze Europese democratische waarden.

Over Stichting Steenbreek
Stichting Steenbreek is een kennis- en netwerkorganisatie en biedt ondersteuning bij het duurzaam vergroenen van onze leefomgeving. De Steenbreekvisie is dat het besef dat groen goed is voor biodiversiteit, klimaatadaptatie en een fijne, aantrekkelijke leefomgeving gemeengoed wordt. En dat iedereen in Nederland, van bewoner tot bestuurder, hiernaar handelt. Bekijk de website

Over SKBN
De Stichting Kennisalliantie Bedrijventerreinen Nederland (SKBN) is al tien jaar de landelijke kennisalliantie voor de (her)ontwikkeling van toekomstbestendige bedrijventerreinen en andere werklocaties. Bekijk de website

Over Stadszaken.nl
Stadszaken.nl informeert stedelijk professionals en RO-ers over ontwikkelingen in het vakgebied met dagelijks nieuws, achtergronden, tools, inspiratie en events. Dat doen we binnen de thema’s die er nu toe doen, namelijk economie, ruimte, circulaire economie, mensen en smart cities. Stadszaken.nl publiceert iedere werkdag actuele content en daarnaast minimaal drie keer per week achtergrond-, opinie- en/ of how-to-verhalen. Dat doen we samen met een netwerk van partners en een professionele redactie, ieder met zijn eigen specialiteit. Bekijk de website

Meld u aan

Online event on Mar 2nd
Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Open Call for city governments and experts to pilot city-wide implementations of digital rights

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The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, UN-Habitat, UCLG and Eurocities, in partnership with Open Society Foundation, are launching an open call to find experts and city governments in Europe to pilot the Digital Rights Governance Framework.

Selected cities will receive support to design and implement the Digital Rights Governance Framework at the local level, and will be provided with technical advice, ad hoc support and advisory input.

The goal of the project is to tackle local digital-rights challenges around digital rights thematic areas such as digital inclusion, individual’s control and autonomy of data, transparency and accountability, public participation and community engagement, privacy, digital public goods and open digital infrastructures, procurement by developing a Digital Rights Governance Framework and a capacity-building programme in these topics.

Using challenge-driven innovation, the pilot process will include assessments, workshops and a capacity-building approach that will be carried out in collaboration with the city’s local staff.

The call is open to:

  • “CITIES”, where city governments in Europe are welcome to apply by sharing local challenges in the different digital rights areas 
  • “EXPERTS”, for professionals with background in the thematic areas related to digital rights

Find out more and submit your application via: https://citiesfordigitalrights.org/opencall

Deadline: Sunday, 27 February 2022

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Zoë Spaaij, Project manager , posted

De komst van Artificial Intelligence, wat nu?

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Het afgelopen jaar verschenen er tal van rapporten over digitalisering en technologisering. Maar wat kunnen we daarmee in 2022? Welke lessen kunnen we trekken voor de slimme stad? Welke ideeën kunnen ons gaan inspireren in dit nieuwe smartcityjaar?

Dit soort gesprekken voer je normaal gesproken als je elkaar tegenkomt tijdens een nieuwjaarsborrel, een congres of een andere netwerkbijeenkomst. Helaas kan dit nu even niet fysiek, maar gelukkig laat het digitale ons niet in de steek. Zo kunnen we toch met elkaar nieuwe kennis delen en verspreiden.

Daarom is de Future City Foundation op zoek gegaan naar de makers en bedenkers achter de rapporten. We gaan daarom in gesprek met columnist en hoogleraar Haroon Sheikh over wat we moeten doen kunstmatige intelligentie.

Wanneer? 9 februari van 9.00 – 10.00 uur
Kosten: Gratis

MELD U NU AAN

Artificial intelligence wordt in steeds meer sectoren gebruikt, maar wat moeten we ermee? Hoe kunnen we gebruik maken van deze nieuwe technologie en tegelijkertijd de risico’s ervan beperken? Welke kansen zijn er voor gemeentes?

Dat vragen we aan Haroon Sheikh, filosoof, bijzonder hoogleraar én projectcoördinator van het rapport over AI van de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor Regeringsbeleid. Wilt u weten hoe je AI zo inzet dat het een positieve bijdrage levert aan onze samenleving en hoe je misbruik door grote bedrijven voorkomt?

Heeft u een vraag aan Haroon Sheikh? Dan kunt u deze invullen in het aanmeldformulier. (We nemen dit mee in de voorbespreking en kunnen niet garanderen dat uw vraag wordt behandeld).

MELD U NU AAN

Meer weten?

Wilt u zich alvast inlezen? Sheikh’s columns zijn regelmatig te lezen in NRC Handelsblad, zoals in dit opiniestuk met Corien Prins (voorzitter van de WRR) over kunstmatige intelligentie. Lees een van zijn columns <b>hier</b>.

Of lees alvast het rapport van de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor Regeringsbeleid <b>hier</b> over de opgaves rondom AI waarin de Raad stelt dat Nederland niet goed is voorbereid op de ontwikkelingen van AI, waardoor kansen worden gemist én risico’s niet goed worden gezien.

Online event on Feb 9th
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Policy guidelines and ethical principles for digital technology

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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.

Ethical Principles

The guidelines formulated above partly converge with the ethical principles that underlie digitization according to the Rathenau Institute. Below, I will summarize these principles.

Privacy
• 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.

Autonomy
• 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.

Safety
• 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

Public oversight
• 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.

Human dignity
• 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.

Justice
• 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.

Power relations
• 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.

Democratic oversight

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 HamidData 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.

Herman van den Bosch's picture #DigitalCity
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

Digital technology and the urban sustainability agenda. A frame

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The eighth episode in the series Better cities - The contribution of digital technology provides a frame to seamlessly integrate the contribution of (digital) technology into urban policy. The Dutch versions of this and already published posts are here.

From the very first publication on smart cities (1992) to the present day, the solution of urban problems has been mentioned as a motive for the application of (digital) technology. However, this relationship is anything but obvious. Think of the discriminatory effect of the use of artificial intelligence by the police in the US – to which I will come back later – and of the misery it has caused in the allowance affair (toelagenaffaire) in the Netherlands.

The choice and application of (digital) technology is therefore part of a careful and democratic process, in which priorities are set and resources are weighed up. See also the article by Jan-Willem Wesselink and Hans DekkerSmart city enhances quality of life and puts citizen first (p.15). Below, I propose a frame for such a process, on which I will built in the next five posts.

My proposal is an iterative process in which three clusters of activities can be distinguished:
• Developing a vision of the city
• The development and choice of objectives
• The instrumentation of the objectives

Vision of the city

The starting point for a democratic urban policy is a broadly supported vision of the city and its development. Citizens and other stakeholders must be able to identify with this vision and their voice must have been heard. The vision of the city is the result of a multitude of opposing or abrasive insights, wishes and interests. Balancing the power differences between parties involved is a precondition for making the city more just, inclusive, and democratic and the residents happier.

The concept of a donut economy is the best framework I know of for developing a vision of such a city. It has been elaborated by British economist Kate Raworth in a report entitled A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The report takes the simultaneous application of social and environmental sustainability as principles for policy.

If you look at a doughnut, you see a small circle in the middle and a larger circle on the outside. The small circle represents 12 principles of social sustainability (basic needs). These principles are in line with the UN's development goals. The larger circle represents 9 principles of the earth’ long-term self-sustaining capacity. A table with both types of principles can be viewed here. Human activities in cities must not overshoot its ecological ceiling, thus harming the self-sustainable capacity of that entity. At the same time, these activities must not shortfall the social foundation of that city, harming its long-term well-being. Between both circles, a safe and just space for humanity - now and in the future - is created. These principles relate to both the city itself and its impact on the rest of the world. Based on these principles, the city can determine in which areas it falls short; think of housing, gender equality and it overshoots the ecological ceiling, for instance, in case of greenhouse gas emissions.

Amsterdam went through this process, together with Kate Raworth. During interactive sessions, a city donut has been created. Citizens from seven different neighborhoods, civil servants and politicians took part in this. The Amsterdam city donut is worth exploring closely.

The urban donut provides a broad vision of urban development, in particular because of the reference to both social and ecological principles and its global footprint. The first version is certainly no final version. It is obvious how Amsterdam has struggled with the description of the impact of the international dimension.

The formulation of desired objectives

Politicians and citizens will mention the most important bottlenecks within their city, even without the city donut. For Amsterdam these are themes like the waste problem, the climate transition, reduction of car use, affordable housing, and inclusion. The Amsterdam donut invites to look at these problems from multiple perspectives: A wide range of social implications, the ecological impact, and the international dimension. This lays the foundation for the formulation of objectives.

Five steps can be distinguished in the formulation of objectives:
• Determine where the most important bottlenecks are located for each of the selected themes, partly based on the city donut (problem analysis), for example insufficient greenery in the neighborhoods.
• Collect data on the existing situation about these bottlenecks. For example, the fact that working-class neighborhoods have four times fewer trees per hectare than middle-class neighborhoods.
• Make provisional choices about the desired improvement of these bottlenecks. For example, doubling the number of trees in five years.
• Formulate the way in which the gap between existing and desired situation can be bridged. For example, replacing parking spaces with trees or facade vegetation.
• Formulate (provisional) objectives.

This process also takes place together with stakeholders. More than 100 people were involved in the development of the circular economy plans in Amsterdam, mainly representatives of the municipalities, companies, and knowledge institutions.

Prioritizing objectives and their instrumentation

Given the provisional objectives, the search can begin for available and desirable resources, varying from information, legal measures, reorganization to (digital) techniques. The expected effectiveness, desired coherence, acceptability, and costs must be considered. With this knowledge, the goals can be formulated definitively and prioritized. It is also desirable to distinguish a short-term and long-term perspective to enable the development of innovative solutions.

The inventory, selection and ethical assessment of resources and the related fine-tuning of the objectives is best done in the first instance by teams representing different disciplines, including expertise in the field of digital technology, followed of course by democratic sanctioning.

My preference is to transfer the instrumentation process to an 'Urban Development and Innovation Department', modeled on the Majors Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) in Boston. Changing teams can be put together from this office, which is strongly branched out with the other departments. In this way, the coherence between the individual goals and action points and the input of scientific research can be safeguarded. According to Ben Green, the author of the book The smart enough city and who has worked in MONUM for years, it has been shown time and again that the effect of technological innovation is enhanced when it is combined with other forms of innovation, such as social innovation.

From vision to action points: Overview

Below I give an overview of the most important building blocks for arriving at a vision and developing action points based on this vision:

1. The process from vision to action points is both linear and iterative. Distinguishing between the phases of vision development, formulating objectives and instrumentation is useful, but these phases influence each other mutually and eventually form a networked process.

2. Urban problems are always complicated, full of internal contradictions and complex. There are therefore seldom single solutions.

3. The mayor (and therefore not a separate alderman) is primarily responsible for coherence within the policy agenda, including the use of (digital) technology. This preferably translates into the structure of the municipal organization, for example an 'Urban Development and Innovation Department'.

4. Formulating a vision, objectives and their instrumentation is part of a democratic process. Both elected representatives and stakeholders play an important role in this.

5. Because of their complexity and coherence, the content of the policy agenda usually transcends the direct interests of the stakeholders, but they must experience that their problems are being addressed too.

6. Ultimately, each city chooses a series of related actions to arrive at an effective, efficient, and supported solution to its problems. The choice of these actions, especially when it comes to (digital) techniques, can always be explained as a function of the addressing problems.

7. The use of technology fits seamlessly into the urban agenda, instead of (re)framing problems to match tempting technologies.

8. Implementation is at least as important as grand plans, but without a vision, concrete plans lose their legitimacy and support.

9. In the search for support for solutions and the implementation of plans, there is collaboration with stakeholders, and they can be given the authority and resources to tackle problems and experiment themselves (‘right to challenge’).

10. In many urban problems, addressing the harmful effects of previously used technologies (varying from greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution to diseases of affluence) is a necessary starting point.

Back to digital technology

(Digital) technology is here to stay and it is developing at a rapid pace. Sometimes you wish it would slow down. It is very regrettable that not democratically elected governments, but Big Tech is the driving force behind the development of technology and that its development is therefore primarily motivated by commercial interests. This calls for resistance against Big Tech's monopoly and for reticence towards their products. By contrast, companies working on technological developments that support a sustainable urban agenda deserve all the support.

In my e-book Cities of the Future. Humane as a choice. Smart where that helps, I performed the exercise described in this post based on current knowledge about urban policy and urban developments. This has led to the identification of 13 themes and 75 action points, where possible with references to potentially useful technology. You can download the e-book here.

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The first part of the serie 'Better cities - The role of technology' is online

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Six weeks ago, I started a new weekly series answering the question how digitization can contribute to the development of better cities and their surroundings. Technology alone cannot reach this goal. Far-reaching social and economic reforms are needed, also to ensure that the benefits of digitization are shared by everyone.

Below you will find links to the articles published until now:

Part A: Digital technology as a challenge

1. Prologue to a new series: Better cities. The role of digital technologies

2. Scare-off the monster behind the curtain: Big Tech’s monopoly

3. Ten years of smart city technology marketing

4. Digital social innovation: For the social good (and a moonshot)

5. Collect meaningful data and stay away from dataism

6. The Boston Smart City Playbook

7. The Future of Urban Tech. A project of the NYC Cornell University

Next up:
Part B: Digital instruments and ethics

8. Digital technology and the urban sustainability agenda. A frame

9. Ethical principles for digital technology

10. Accessibility, software, digital infrastructure, and data. The quest for ethics

11. Ethical principles and artificial intelligence

12. Ethical principles and applications of digital technology

13. Amsterdam benchmarked

14. ‘Agenda stad’ and digital instruments

Part C: Applications
15. Artificial intelligence abused
16. Government: services and participation
17. Mobility
18. Circular economy: Construction
19. Circular economy: Waste
20. Resilience
21. Energy transition
22. Health
23. Smart cities from scratch
24. Epilogue

Links to the Dutch versions, you will find below:

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7. The Future of Urban Tech-project

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The seventh edition of the series Better cities. The contribution of digital technology is about forecasts, trends and signals regarding the role of technology in the development of cities, as seen by Cornell University's Future of Urban Tech-project. The Dutch versions of this and other already published posts are here.

A source of new insights

Technology has changed the planet for better and for worse. Will this change continue, and which direction will dominate? To answer this question, scientists at the Jacobs Institute at Cornell University in New York developed a horizon scan, named The Future of Urban Tech. At first, they made a content analysis of hundreds of recent scientific publications, from which they distilled 217 signals. These signals were grouped into 49 trends, full of contradictions. Each trend is tagged with an indication of time frame, probability, and societal impact. In the end, they modeled six forecasts. These describe dominant directions for change.

Readers can use the site in their own way. I started from the 17 sectors such as built environment, logistics, mobility, and energy and explored the related trends. It is also possible to start top-down with one of the six forecasts and examine its plausibility considering the related trends and signals. I will show below that each of the forecasts is challenging and invites further reading.

Content selection is supported by dynamic graphics, which connect all signals, trends and forecasts and enable the reader to see their interrelationships. Just start scrolling, unleash your curiosity and decide after some explorations how to proceed more systematically.

The website briefly describes each of the forecasts, trends, and signals. Each signal reflects the content of a handful of (popular) scientific publications, which are briefly summarized. Read the articles that intrigue you or limit yourself to the summary.

Take the time to explore this site as you will encounter many new insights and opinions. The link to the project is at the end of this article.

Below I will explain some aspects of the content of the project, followed by some caveats.

Six forecasts

The forecasts reflect the multiplicity of views in contemporary scientific literature, stimulating readers to form a judgment. The wording of the forecasts is reproduced in abbreviated form below.

1. All buildings, houses, means of transport, infrastructure, but also trees and parks will be connected with sensors and cameras and form one web.
Many buildings, buses, trains, and roads are already equipped with digital detection, but they are not linked yet up at city scale. The next decade will change this, which will, for example, mean a breakthrough in the management of energy flows, but also raise questions regarding privacy.

2. Cities will use advanced biotechnology to take livability to new heights.
Growing understanding of human dependence on nature will lead to mapping the physical-biological world as well as its threats and its blessings to humans. City authorities will equip trees, parks, and waterways with sensors to measure and control the vitality of ecosystems.

3. Resilient corridors will mitigate the impact of climate change, but citizens will be prepared for the inevitable shocks to come.
Cities will reduce CO2 emissions but also prepare for the inevitable consequences of climate change. Political and financial centers of power will be concentrated in places where the impact of climate change can be controlled by technical means.

4. Artificial neural networks provide advanced forms of machine learning with unparalleled predictive capabilities that will bring order to the chaos of urban life.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will become inscrutable black boxes that make decisions without giving explanations. The ultimate questions are whether the machines to which we outsource our decisions can still be controlled themselves and whether the impact of spontaneous encounters and human ideas disappears if computers produce the best solutions after all?

5. New Screen Deal that redistributes the risks and benefits of urban technology.
“Everything remote” – learning, healthcare, work, and entertainment – is becoming the new normal. The predictive power of AI will lead to conflicts over the concentration of wealth and power that digital platforms cause. But on the other hand, new stakeholders will focus on equity.

6. A global supply chain for city-building technologies will 'crack the code of the city'.
In the smart cities-movement there is a tension between top-down and bottom-up, between proprietary versus open and between Big Tech and Makers. A new urban innovation industry will take dominance but will be more attuned to societal concerns. Governments, in turn, will have a clearer picture of the problems that the industry needs to solve. A public-private structure for investments and governance is indispensable to counter the power of Big Tech.

A few notes

As mentioned, each of the six forecasts is based on trends. Nine trends, in the case of the latest forecast mentioned above. Each trend is illustrated by a handful of signals, documented by various publications. One of the nine trends supporting the latter forecast is “Regional clustering from enterprises to ecosystems”, for example New York, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. This refers to the growing power of local technology hubs, supported by regional capital and involving governments, start-ups, knowledge institutions and citizens. This concentration could even lead to a new “space race” between cities instead of countries. However, the underlying signals show that this "trend" is more open-ended and uncertain than its description warrants.

I went through many publications documenting the signals and concluded that "trends" essentially map the bandwidth within developments within a domain will occur. To me, this does not detract from the value of the exercise, because the more doubts there are about the future and the more insights we have into the forces that shape it, the more opportunities we have to influence the future.

As the six forecasts must match the open nature of the trends, I have reformulated each of these forecasts as pairs of conflicting directions for development.

1. The commercial or political interests behind urban technology versus the well-being and privacy of citizens.

2. The struggle between 'Big Tech' versus (supra)national political over leadership over technological development.

3. The infusion of technology into all domains of society versus acceptance of unpredictable outcomes of human interactions resulting from creativity, inner motives, and intuitive decisions.

4. Controlling nature through biotechnology versus restoring a balance between humans and natural ecosystems.

5. The concentration of power, political influence, and wealth through control over technology versus open licensing that allows technology to be used for the benefit of the entire world population.

6. Autonomous decision-making through machine learning and artificial intelligence versus the primacy of democratic and decentralized decision-making over the application of technology.

Studying the Future of Urban Tech-project has been a rich and thought-provoking learning experience and has helped fueling the insights underlying this series.

You can find the Future of Urban Tech project behind the link below:

https://futureofurbantech.org/introduction/

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6. The Boston Smart City Playbook

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This is the sixth episode of the Better Cities; The Contribution of Digital Technology series. It is about the expectations of the Majors Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) in Boston from representatives of tech companies crowding its doors to sell turnkey "smart" solutions. The Dutch versions of the published posts in this series are here.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, former head of MONUM, recalls meeting representatives of a Fortune 500 technology company that had tendered to equip all the city's lampposts with cameras and sensors. When asked if this equipment had already proven its worth elsewhere, the answer was that the company would appreciate Boston investigating it. It goes without saying that the city has resolutely rejected this 'offer'. It was one of many exhausting encounters with eager salespeople offering 'promising' technological solutions, with limited knowledge of urban problems. As a result, Franklin-Hodge and his colleague Nigel Jacob decided to incorporate the feedback normally given to these people into a document that they could share with companies. This became the famous Boston Smart City Playbook, with the primary purpose of propagating Boston's intent to develop technology that is responsible, people-centric and problem-driven.

Below I go through the book, paraphrasing (italics) and commenting on each chapter

Stop sending salespeople

The introduction to the booklet sighs, send us someone who knows about cities, someone who wants to talk to the residents about what they like (and don't like!) about Boston. The MONUM team appreciates when technologists come to talk about topics that matter rather than fire well well-prepared pitches. Shared understanding of urban problems and the nature of their solution is the only way to establish a long-term relationship between the company and the city. The team announces to ask examples of how the product has worked or failed elsewhere.

In addition, I believe that representatives of technology companies who believe that a vendor’s pitch will do, sometimes forget that their interlocutors are technologists too, who are often better educated than themselves. However, civil servants often lack knowledge of successful examples from elsewhere, therefore they sincerely hope that representatives of a technology company can provide these. Unfortunately, that rarely turns out to be the case. The best solution is pre-competitive triple-helix collaboration between representatives of municipalities, knowledge institutions and companies. Together they can compensate for each other's knowledge gaps.

Solving real problems for people

Municipal employees often feel that their colleagues from companies lack involvement and knowledge about the concerns of ordinary people. That's why the Playbook expects them to talk to workers, unemployed, entrepreneurs, artists, citizen groups, advocacy groups and architects before visiting MONUM. The team would like to know what companies have learned during this conversation and especially why their products will make a difference.

Such an assignment is not easy. Citizens are easy to speak out about their problems and come up with solutions too. These solutions rarely have a technological component. The tech companies itself must build bridges and ask citizens for their opinion. Even citizens they don't see the value of the proposed technologies, city councils can still be confident in their long-term value.

Don't worship efficiency

Efficiency must be part of the solution to any problem, as cities have finite resources and infinite needs. However, efficiency is never a motive in the phase in which alternative choices are weighed up. Once a choice has been made, the next step is to implement it as efficiently as possible.
Talking prematurely about efficiency often results from ignoring underlying political positions. The question is always: Efficient on the basis of which criteria, for what purposes and in whose interest? As Ben Green wrote in ''The smart enough city' (p. 14): For those on the front lines, words like “better” and “more efficient” are the tip of an iceberg, below which sit the competing interests and conflicting values of the city and the people who live in it. In my opinion, the same applies to the misuse of the adjective 'smart'.

To become a competent partner, representatives of tech companies must not only be familiar with urban problems, but also with current political debates and the mission of mayor and aldermen. Anyone who mentions arguments such as 'cost savings' and 'efficiency gains' as main motives in the discussion about technological solutions for urban problems will immediately be questioned about the real benefits and for whom.

Better decisions, not (just) better data

The price for the purchase of technology must be paid immediately. Often a city can only reap its benefits in the future. The problem is that the success of the technology acquired will depend at least as much on how it is applied. This in turn depends on the behavior of the people involved. The often have to adapt themselves and targeted management is required to bring about behavioral change. Technological innovation usually goes hand in hand with social innovation or at least behavioral change. This could be, for example, breaking through silos between departments whose data must be shared. In essence, the quality of the data depends on its ability to improve decisions. Better decisions, in turn, should pay off in greater satisfaction for all stakeholders involved.

In my opinion, representatives of tech companies do not think enough about the 'soft side' of implementing technological change. In addition, they neglect after-sales contacts, which can provide them with valuable information about the impact of organizational conditions on technological innovation.

Platforms make us go ¯\_(**ツ)_/¯

In 2015, Ross Atkin, a critic of smart cities, wrote his Manifesto for the clever city. In the 'clever city', technology is used radically bottom-up to solve the problems that ordinary citizens experience with as little data as possible and in a way that citizens can understand. In the smart city, 'platforms' are often proposed as networks of sensors that collect huge amounts of data because they can potentially be used to solve problems. But many problems that affect people, such as pollution, stench and particulate matter, have been known for years, as have their causes: factories, heavy traffic and unhealthy homes. Installing a sensor network delays the resolution of these problems and is at the expense of it.

Moreover, because of vendor lock-in municipalities risk being stuck for years to solutions that companies have developed, as long as there are no standards or there is no guarantee of interoperability. Representatives of technology companies should be asked what they believe to be the cheapest solution for collecting critical data and what the interoperability of this solution is.

Towards a "public" privacy policy

Police monitor video cameras throughout the city and transit companies use GPS trackers to detect the location of buses and trains. Since the observation of people in public space is increasing rapidly, the question is what is the bottom-line of privacy of citizens that must always be respected. Representatives of tech companies should be surveyed to make explicit the privacy risks of their technologies and whether these technologies meet data minimization requirements.

In my opinion, it is up to cities to draw up guidelines about internet safety, privacy security and data minimization, but also to make explicit which means are acceptable for crime prevention and law enforcement. The development of such guidelines is also an opportunity for pre-competitive collaboration between cities, companies, and knowledge institutions.

Ben Green, also a former member of the MONUM team and now a teacher at the Ford School of Public Policy, Michigan University, also refers to the Smart City Playbook in his work 'The smart enough city' and emphasizes that the last thing to happen is considering technology as imminent and inevitable, thus beyond dispute and deliberation (p. 7). Technology must always be justified by its proven contribution to human well-being.

Follow up

The Boston Smart City Play Book makes it clear that before they can provide 'solutions', tech companies must become familiar with urban problems, preferably through direct contact with stakeholders and citizens in particular. In addition, cities also want to be involved in the development of these technologies.
The Playbook spawned a series of research and development projects, including the Local Sense Lab, a loose group of sensor technologists developing sensors and other devices of demonstrable value to Boston residents.

Read the Boston Smart City Playbook by following the link below

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We can navigate wickedness together

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On the 25 and 26st of November the Amsterdam Smart City network worked together to tackle big wicked problems that exist in the region. But is it even possible to tackle wicked problems? In a masterclass on the first day, initiated by the ASC wicked problems team, Marije Poel (HvA) and Nora van der Linden (Kennisland) tried to change the perspective: what if we aim to navigate wickedness together?

While we work on big and complex issues like the energy transition or the digital transition, we try to get a grip on problems and come up with a structured plan or linear project. But that approach is not always in line with reality, where we struggle with complex, unstructured and undefined messiness. In this masterclass,  we shared a perspective on the character of wicked problems and on the consequences of working on these kind of challenges. Most of the participants recognised the reflexes we have, trying to master or control a wicked problem and come up with a concrete solution.

To give some perspective on how to deal with wickedness, we presented some overall strategies on navigating in wickedness. We suggested to make room for little mistakes (to prevent big ones), invite different perspectives and voices to the table, to be adaptive all along the way, and create time and space for reflection and learning.

The Wicked problems team got positive feed back on the workshop, leading to the idea next time we might dive a bit deeper into this topic and try to apply one or more concrete approaches and tools to navigate around wickedness.

We continue learning and sharing learnings about wickedness in the ASC network. Therefore we are open to work with wicked cases. So, Is your organization a partner of Amsterdam Smart City and do you deal with wicked problems? Let the Wicked Problems know and find out if we can inspire you and find innovative ways to navigate through them together. You can contact Francien who is coordinating this team from the Amsterdam Smart City Baseteam.

In the Wicked problems team are: Dave van Loon (Kennisland), Christiaan Elings (RHDHV), Gijs Diercks (Drift), Giovanni Stijnen (NEMO), Bas Wolfswinkel (Arcadis) en Marije Poel (HvA).

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4. Digital social innovation: For the social good (and a moonshot)

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The fourth edition in the series Better cities. The Contribution of Digital Technology is about “digital social innovations” and contains ample examples of how people are finding new ways to use digital means to help society thrive and save the environment.

Digitale sociale innovatie  – also referred to as smart city 3.0 – is a modest counterweight to the growing dominance and yet lagging promises of 'Big Tech'. It concerns "a type of social and collaborative innovation in which final users and communities collaborate through digital platforms to produce solutions for a wide range of social needs and at a scale that was unimaginable before the rise of Internet-enabled networking platforms."

Digital innovation in Europe has been boosted by the EU project Growing a digital social Innovation ecosystem for Europa (2015 – 2020), in which De Waag Society in Amsterdam participated for the Netherlands. One of the achievements is a database of more than 3000 organizations and companies. It is a pity that this database is no longer kept up to date after the project has expired and – as I have experienced – quickly loses its accuracy.

Many organizations and projects have interconnections, usually around a 'hub'. In addition to the Waag Society, these are for Europe, Nesta, Fondazione Mondo Digitale and the Institute for Network Cultures. These four organizations are also advisors for new projects. Important websites are: digitalsocial.eu(no longer maintained) and the more business-oriented techforgood.

A diversity of perspectives

To get to know the field of digital innovation better, different angles can be used:

• Attention to a diversity of issues such as energy and climate, air and noise pollution, health care and welfare, economy and work, migration, political involvement, affordable housing, social cohesion, education and skills.

• The multitude of tools ranging from open hardware kits for measuring air pollution, devices for recycling plastic, 3D printers, open data, open hardware and open knowledge. Furthermore, social media, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, big data, machine learning et cetera.

• The variety of project types: Web services, networks, hardware, research, consultancy, campaigns and events, courses and training, education, and research.

• The diverse nature of the organizations involved: NGOs, not-for-profit organizations, citizens' initiatives, educational and research institutions, municipalities and increasingly social enterprises.

Below, these four perspectives are only discussed indirectly via the selected examples. The emphasis is on a fifth angle, namely the diversity of objectives of the organizations and projects involved. At the end of this article, I will consider how municipalities can stimulate digital social innovation. But I start with the question of what the organizations involved have in common.

A common denominator

A number of organizations drew up the Manifesto for Digital Social Innovation in 2017 and identified  central values for digital social innovation: Openness and transparency, democracy and decentralization, experimentation and adoption, digital skills, multidisciplinary and sustainability. These give meaning to the three components of the concept of digital social technology:

Social issues
The multitude of themes of projects in the field of digital social innovation has already been mentioned. Within all these themes, the perspective of social inequality, diversity, human dignity, and gender are playing an important role. In urban planning applications, this partly shifts the focus from the physical environment to the social environment:  We're pivoting from a focus on technology and IoT and data to a much more human-centered process, in the words of Emily Yates, smart cities director of Philadelphia.

Innovation
Ben Green writes in his book 'The smart enough city': One of the smart city's greatest and most pernicious tricks is that it .... puts innovation on a pedestal by devaluing traditional practices as emblematic of the undesirable dumb city.(p. 142). In digital social, innovation rather refers to implement, experiment, improve and reassemble.

(Digital) technology
Technology is not a neutral toolbox that can be used or misused for all purposes. Again Ben Green: We must ask, what forms of technology are compatible with the kind of society we want to build (p. 99). Current technologies have been shaped by commercial or military objectives. Technologies that contribute to 'the common good' still need to be partly developed. Supporters of digital social innovation emphasize the importance of a robust European open, universal, distributed, privacy-aware and neutral peer-to-peer network as a platform for all forms of digital social innovation.

Objectives and focus

When it comes to the objective or focus, five types of projects can be distinguished: (1) New production techniques (2) participation (3) cooperation (4 raising awareness and (5) striving for open access.

1. New production techniques
A growing group of 'makers' is revolutionizing open design. 3D production tools CAD/CAM software is not expensive or available in fab labs and libraries. Waag Society in Amsterdam is one of the many institutions that host a fab lab. This is used, among other things, to develop several digital social innovations. One example was a $50 3D-printed prosthesis intended for use in developing countries.

2. Participation
Digital technology can allow citizens to participate in decision-making processes on a large scale. In Finland, citizens are allowed to submit proposals to parliament. Open Ministry supports citizens in making an admissible proposal and furthermore in obtaining the minimum required 50,000 votes. Open Ministry is now part of the European D-CENTproject a decentralized social networking platform that has developed tools for large-scale collaboration and decision making across Europe.

3. Collaboration
It is about enabling people to exchange skills, knowledge, food, clothing, housing, but also includes new forms of crowdfunding and financing based on reputation and trust. The sharing economy is becoming an important economic factor. Thousands of alternative payment methods are also in use worldwide. In East Africa, M-PESA (a mobile financial payment system) opens access to secure financial services for nine million people. Goteo is a social network for crowdfunding and collaborative collaboration that contribute to the common good.

4. Awareness
These are tools that seek to use information to change behavior and mobilize collective action. Tyze is a closed and online community for family, friends, neighbors, and care professionals to strengthen mutual involvement around a client and to make appointments, for example for a visit. Safecast is the name of a home-built Geiger counter with which a worldwide community performs radiation measurements and thus helps to increase awareness in radiation and (soon) the presence of particulate matter.

5. Open Access
The open access movement (including open content, standards, licenses, knowledge and digital rights) aims to empower citizens. The CityService Development Kit (CitySDK) is a system that collects open data from governments to make it available uniformly and in real time. CitySDK helps seven European cities to release their data and provides tools to develop digital services. It also helps cities to anticipate the ever-expanding technological possibilities, for example a map showing all 9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands, shaded by year of construction. Github is a collaborative platform for millions of open software developers, helping to re-decentralize the way code is built, shared, and maintained.

Cities Support

Cities can support organizations pursuing digital social innovations in tackling problems in many ways. Municipalities that want to do this can benefit from the extensive list of examples in the Digital Social Innovation Ideas Bank, An inspirational resource for local governments.

Funding
Direct support through subsidies, buying shares, loans, social impact bonds, but also competitions and matching, whereby the municipality doubles the capital obtained by the organization, for example through crowdfunding. An example of a project financed by the municipality is Amsterdammers, maak je stad.

Cooperation
Involvement in a project, varying from joint responsibility and cost sharing, to material support by making available space and service s, such as in the case Maker Fairs or the Unusual Suspects Festival. Maker Fairs or the Unusual Suspects Festival. Municipalities can also set up and support a project together, such as Cities for Digital Rights. A good example is the hundreds of commons in Bologna, to which the municipality delegates part of its tasks.

Purchasing Policy
Digital social innovation projects have provided a very wide range of useful software in many areas, including improving communication with citizens and their involvement in policy. Consul was first used in Madrid but has made its way to 33 countries and more than 100 cities and businesses and is used by more than 90 million people. In many cases there is also local supply. An alternative is Citizenlab.

Infrastructure
Municipalities should seriously consider setting up or supporting a fab lab. Fab Foundation is helpful in this regard. Another example is the Things Network and the Smart citizen kit.. Both are open tools that enable citizens and entrepreneurs to build an IoT application at low cost. These facilities can also be used to measure noise nuisance, light pollution, or odors with citizens in a neighborhood, without having to install an expensive sensor network.

Skills Training
Municipalities can offer citizens and students targeted programs for training digital skills, or support organizations that can implement them, through a combination of physical and digital means. One of the options is the lie detector program, developed by a non-profit organization that teaches young children to recognize and resist manipulative information on (social) media.

Incubators and accelerators
We mainly find these types of organizations in the world of start-ups, some of which also have a social impact. Targeted guidance programs are also available for young DSI organizations. In the Netherlands this is the Waag Society in Amsterdam. A typical tech for good incubator in the UK is Bethnal Green Ventures. An organization that has also helped the Dutch company Fairphone to grow. In the Netherlands, various startup in residence programs also play a role in the development of DSI organisations.

A digital-social innovative moonshot to gross human happiness

It is sometimes necessary to think ahead and wake up policymakers, putting aside the question of implementation for a while. A good example of this from a digital social innovation perspective is the moonshot that Jan-Willem Wesselink (Future City Foundation), Petra Claessen (BTG/TGG). Michiel van Willigen and Wim Willems (G40) and Leonie van den Beuken (Amsterdam Smart City) have written in the context of 'Missie Nederland' of de Volkskrant. Many DSI organizations can get started with this piece! I'll end with the main points of this:

By 2030...
… not a single Dutch person is digitally literate anymore, instead every Dutch person is digitally skilled.
… every resident of the Netherlands has access to high-quality internet. This means that every home will be connected to fast fixed and mobile internet and every household will be able to purchase devices that allow access. A good laptop is just as important as a good fridge.
… the internet is being used in a new way. Applications (software and hardware) are created from within the users. With the premise that anyone can use them. Programs and the necessary algorithms are written in such a way that they serve society and not the big-tech business community.
… every resident of the Netherlands has a 'self-sovereign identity' with which they can operate and act digitally within the context of their own opportunities.
… new technology has been developed that gives residents and companies the opportunity to think along and decide about and to co-develop and act on the well-being of regions, cities, and villages.
… all Dutch politicians understand digitization and technology.
… the Dutch business community is leading in the development of these solutions.
… all this leads to more well-being and not just more prosperity.
… the internet is ours again.

A more detailed explanation can be found under this link

Herman van den Bosch's picture #DigitalCity
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

3. Ten years of smart city technology marketing

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This post is about the rise of the smart city movement, the different forms it has taken and what its future can be. It is the third edition of the series Better cities: The role of digital technologies.

The term smart cities shows up in the last decade of the 20th century. Most definitions  refer to the use of (digital) technology as a tool for empowering cities and citizens, and a key to fuel economic growth and to attract investments. Some observants will add as an instrument to generate large profits.

Barcelona, Ottawa, Brisbane, Amsterdam, Kyoto, and Bangalore belong to the forerunners of cities that flagged themselves as ‘smart’. In 2013 approximately 143 ‘self-appointed’ smart cities existed worldwide. To date, this number has exploded over more than 1000.

Five smart city tales

In their article Smart Cities as Company Story telling Ola Söderström et al. document how technology companies crafted the smart city as a fictional story that framed the problems of cities in a way these companies can offer to solve. Over time, the story has multiplied, resulting in what I have called the Smart city tales, a series of narratives used by companies and city representatives. I will address with five dominant ones below: The connected city, the entrepreneurial city, the data-driven city, the digital services city and the consumers’ city.

The connected city
On November 4th 2011, the trademark smarter cities was officially registered as belonging to IBM. It marked a period in which this company became the leader of the smart city technology market. Other companies followed fast, attracted by an expected growth of this market by 20% per year from over $300bn in 2015 to over $750bn to date.  In the IBM vision cities are systems of systems: Planning and management services, infrastructural services and human services, each to be differentiated further, to be over-sighted and controlled from one central point, such as the iconic control center that IBM has build in Rio de Janeiro (photo above). All systems can be characterized by three 'I's, which are the hard core of any smart city: Being instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.

The corporate smart city
In many cities in the world, emerging and developing countries in the first place, administrators dream about building smart towns from scratch.  They envisioned being 'smart' as a major marketing tool for new business development.
Cisco and Gale, an international property development company, became the developers of New Songdo in South Korea. New Songdo was in the first place meant to become a giant business park and to enable a decent corporate lifestyle and business experience for people from abroad on the first place, offering houses filled with technical gadgets, attractive parks, full-featured office space, outstanding connectivity and accessibility.

Quite some other countries took comparable initiatives in order to attract foreign capital and experts to boost economic growth. For example, India, that has planned to build 100 smart cities.

The data driven city
The third narrative is fueled by the collection and refined analyses of data that technology companies ‘tap’ for commercial reasons from citizens’ Internet and mobile phones communication. Google was the first to discover the unlimited opportunities of integrating its huge knowledge of consumer behavior with city data. Sidewalk Labs - legally operating under the umbrella of Alphabet - responded to an open call for a proposal for redevelopment of Quayside, brownfield land around Toronto's old port, and  won the competition. Its plans were on par with contemporary urbanist thinking. However, that was not Sidewalk Labs’ first motive. Instead, its interest was ‘ubiquitous sensing’ of city life’, to expand Google’s already massive collection of personalized profiles with real-time geotagged knowledge of where people are, what they are whishing or doing in order to provide them with commercial information.
As could be expected, privacy issues dominated the discussion over the urbanist merits of the plan and most observers believe that therefore the company put the plug out of the project in May 2020. The official reason was investors’ restraint, due to Covid-19.

The consumers’ smart city
The fourth narrative is focusing on rise of urban tech targeted on consumers. Amazon, Uber and Airbnb are forerunners disrupting traditional sectors like retail, taxi and hotel business. They introduced a platform approach that nearly decimated the middleclass in in the US. Others followed, such as bike- and scooter-sharing companies Bird and Lyme, co-working companies like We Work and meal delivery services like Delivero.
City tech embodies the influence of entrepreneurship backed by venture capitalists and at the same time the necessity for city governments to establish a democratic legitimized framework to manage these initiatives.

The smart services city
Thanks to numerous ‘apps’, cities started to offer a wealth of information and services to citizens concerning employment, housing, administration, mobility, health, security and utilities. These apps enable city administrators, transit authorities, utility services and many others to inform citizens better than before. With these apps, citizens also can raise questions or make a request to repair broken street furniture.
Some cities, for instance Barcelona and Madrid, started to use digital technologies to increase public engagement, or to give people a voice in decision making or budgeting.

All aforementioned narratives suggest a tight link between technology and the wellbeing of citizens, symbolizing a new kind of technology-led urban utopia. In essence, each narrative puts available technology in the center and looks for an acceptable rationale to put it into the market. The fifth one witnesses an upcoming change into a more human-centric direction.

An upcoming techlash or a second wave of smart cities

It is unmistakably that business leaders, having in mind a multi-billion smart city technologies-market overstate the proven benefits of technology. Garbage containers with built-in sensors and adaptive street lighting are not that great after all, and the sensors appearing everywhere raise many questions. According to The Economist, it is not surprising that a techlash is underway. As I accentuated in last week’s post, politicians are becoming more critical regarding behemoths like Google, Amazon and Facebook, because of their treatment of sensitive data, their lack of transparency of algorithm-based decision making, their profits and tax evasion and the gig economy in general. Skepticism within the general public is increasing too.

Nevertheless, a second wave of smart cities is upcoming. The first wave lacked openess for the ethics of urban technology and the governance of urban development. The second wave excels in ethical considerations and intentions to preserve privacy. Intentions alone are insufficient, politics will also have to break the monopolies of Big Tech

Besides, in order to gain trust in the general public, city governors must discuss the city’s real challenges with residents, (knowledge) institutions, and other stakeholder before committing to whatever technology.  Governance comes prior to technology. As Francesca Bria, former chief technology officer of Barcelona said: We are reversing the smart city paradigm. Instead of starting from technology and extracting all the data we can before thinking about how to use it, we started aligning the tech agenda with the agenda of the city.

Apart from Barcelona, this also happens in cities such as Amsterdam, Boston, Portland and the Polish city of Lublin. The question is no longer which problems technology is going to solve, but which exactly are these problems, who is trusted to define them, which are their causes, whose intersts are involved, who is most affected, and which ones must be solved most urgently. Only after answering these questions, the discussion can be extended to the contribution of (digital) technology. In a next contribution, I explore digital social innovation, as a contribution to a revised smart city concept.

This post is a brief summary of my article Humane by choice. Smart by default: 39 building blocks for cities in the future. Published in the Journal of the American Institution of Engineers and Technology, June 2020. You will fine a copy of this article below:

Herman van den Bosch's picture #DigitalCity
Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

4th ICC City Lab

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The 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is an initiative of the European Commission (EC) supporting municipalities in adopting new technologies to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and rebuild their economies while steering them in the direction of green, smart and sustainable growth. The focus is on supporting mid-size and smaller municipalities with improving the quality of life for citizens and business competitiveness.

Throughout the 2.5 year challenge, a series of five City Labs bring together ICC cities and stakeholders with the following objectives:
    1. Inspire with state-of-the-art re-thinking of the city of the future and its role amidst new climate change and digital growth ambitions;
    2. Peer-to-peer review of ICC core cities’ implementation plans;
    3. Present initiatives which entered the phase of implementation and exchange of views on maximising impact;
    4. Provide opportunities to explore the possibility of collaboration between cities with an interest in developing joint solutions;
    5. Allow the exchange of knowledge between city teams during interactive thematic sessions;
    6. Provide transversal support on access to finance, public procurement, and open data.

The 4th ICC City lab will kick off on November 30th with public sessions on up-skilling-and re-skilling open both to the ICC community and external participants.

As ICC mentor, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region, will contribute to a Thematic Workshop on Green Economy and Local Green Deals on Wednesday, December 1st. During the workshop, Yolanda Schmal, policy advisor at the Province of North Holland will share best practices and current initiatives for accelerating the circular economy on a regional scale, with focus on plastics.

The full program and registration is available via: https://www.intelligentcitieschallenge.eu/events/4th-icc-city-lab

Cornelia Dinca's picture Online event from Nov 30th to Dec 10th
Nancy Zikken, Trade developer Smart City / Sustainable Built Environment at Amsterdam Trade, posted

Responsible Drones: Spelregels (in Dutch)

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Op 9 december organiseren het Responsible Sensing Lab (Gemeente Amsterdam en AMS) en Amsterdam Smart City de derde inhoudelijke sessie van Responsible Drones.

Responsible Drones is een verkennend en ontwerpend onderzoek naar de verantwoorde inzet van drones in de stad. We vinden het belangrijk om te onderzoeken hoe we deze op een verantwoorde manier gebruiken.

Dit keer staat de vraag ‘Hoe komen we tot de juiste spelregels?’ centraal.
Een uitdaging bij de discussie over drones is dat veel toepassingen klinken als toekomstmuziek. Hierdoor blijft het gesprek over deze technologie snel steken in abstracties. Intussen staat Amsterdam wel in de schijnwerpers
van de drone-industrie en staan bedrijven te trappelen om hier te mogen vliegen. Dit gaat het beeld van de publieke ruimte aanzienlijk veranderen. Het is daarom goed als we duidelijke spelregels hebben voor het verantwoord gebruik van drones in de stad.

Wat is de rol van de gemeente hierin, aangezien wet- en regelgeving voornamelijk Europees is? Welke partijen met bevoegdheden moeten we betrekken? Hoe betrekken we de quadruple helix, wat is hun rol en wat is er nodig om een gevoel van urgentie bij hen te genereren? Wat is er nodig om de abstractie weg te halen?

Praktisch
Wanneer: donderdag 18 november, 14.00 - 15.30 uur
Waar: online

We hebben persoonlijke uitnodigingen gestuurd, maar willen ook ruimte bieden aan onze community. Laat me hieronder even weten als je erbij wil zijn, wellicht hebben we nog plekken beschikbaar!

Resultaat Responsible Drones
Op 28 oktober en 18 november hebben we goede discussies gehad over proportionaliteit en transparantie en communicatie over drones. Op basis van al deze sessies zullen we adviezen over verantwoord dronegebruik en vervolgonderzoek opstellen. Deze resultaten presenteren we op de Amsterdam Drone Week in januari 2022.

Nancy Zikken's picture Online event on Dec 9th
Gijs Boerwinkel, Head of communications at Waag, posted

Wandelen in Amsterdam langs de digitale sporen van de slimme stad

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Wandel op 24 april mee langs de digitale sporen in Amsterdam en ga in gesprek over data, sensoren, en camera’s in de openbare ruimte. Kan een stad slim zijn of moeten we juist inzetten op slimme burger; smart citizens?

Wat wordt er aan data verzameld en wat gebeurt daarmee? Kun je je nog onbespied wanen in de publieke ruimte van mijn stad? Hoe ziet de ideale digitale stad van de toekomst er volgens jou uit?

Digitale infrastructuur

Ooit bestond de stad uit bakstenen en staal, gebouwen en wegen. Maar steeds meer is deze infrastructuur vervlochten met een digitaal netwerk dat alles verbindt. Deze digitale sporen vind je overal. Ze helpen ons de stad en haar inwoners steeds verder in kaart te brengen. Tijdens de smart citizen-wandeling kom je deze sporen tegen. Van slimme bewegwijzering die ons leidt, tot camera’s die ons volgen. Je gaat in gesprek over de relatie van bewoners met de technologie in de stad en wordt uitgedaagd je aannames te bevragen en toekomstideëen te delen.

Wanneer: 24 januari '22
Starttijden: 14:00 uur en 15:00 uur
Startpunt: Amsterdam CS, IJ-zijde West
Eindpunt: Tolhuistuin
Nodig: goede schoenen, opgeladen telefoon, flesje water
Afstand en duur wandeling: 
Amsterdam: 
5,3 km
 - 1 uur en drie kwartier

Meer informatie

Bij het startpunt van de wandeling krijg je informatie over de wandeling en ontvang je een wandelpakket met een routekaart en gespreksmateriaal voor tijdens de wandeling. We starten gezamenlijk, daarna wandel je in kleine groepjes, met max 4 mensen. Bij het eindpunt word je ontvangen met koffie en thee. Je kunt je aanmelden met vrienden, of meewandelen met iemand die je nog niet kent en je laten verrassen!

Gijs Boerwinkel's picture Meet-up on Apr 24th
Herman van den Bosch, professor in management development , posted

2. Scare off the monster behind the curtain: Big Tech’s monopoly

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This post is about the omnipotence of Big Tech. So far, resistance mainly results in regulation of its effects. The core of the problem, the monopoly position of the technology giants, is only marginally touched. What is needed is a strict antitrust policy and a government that once again takes a leading role in setting the technology agenda.

A cause of concern

 In its recent report, the Dutch Rathenau Institute calls the state of digital technology a cause for concern. The institute advocates a fair data economy and a robust, secure and available Internet for everyone. This is not the case now. In fact, we are getting further and further away from this. The risks are pressing more each day: Inscrutable algorithms, deepfakes and political micro-targeting, inner-city devastation through online shopping, theft of trade secrets, unbridled data collection by Google, Amazon and Facebook, poorly paid taxi drivers by Uber and other service providers of the gig economy, the effect of Airbnb on the hotel industry and the energy consumption of bitcoin and blockchain.

The limits of legislation

Numerous publications are calling on the government to put an end to the growing abuse of digital technology. In his must read 'the New Digital Deal' Bas Boorsma states: In order to deploy digitalization and to manage platforms for the greater good of the individual and society as a whole, new regulatory approaches will be required… (p. 46) . That is also the view of the Rathenau Institute, which lists three spearheads for a digitization strategy: Strong legislative frameworks and supervision, value-based digital innovation based on critical parliamentary debate and a say in this for citizens and professionals.

More than growing inconvenience

In recent years, the European Commission has launched a wide range of legislative proposals, such as the Digital Services Act package, the Digital Market Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, these measures do not get to the kernel of the problem. The near-monopoly position of Big Tech is the proverbial monster behind the curtain. The Rathenau Institute speaks in furtitive terms of "the growing inconvenience" of reliance on American and Chinese tech giants. Even the International Monetary Fund is clearer in stating that the power of Big Tech inhibits innovation and investment and increases income inequality. Due to the power of the big technology companies, society is losing its grip on technology.

Surveillance capitalisme

To curb the above-mentioned risks, the problem must first be named  and measures must then be tailored accordingly. This is done in two recent books, namely Shoshana Zuboff's 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power' (2019) and Cory Doctorow's 'How to destroy surveillance capitalism' (2021). Zuboff describes in detail how Google, Amazon and Facebook collect data with only one goal, to entice citizens to buy goods and services: Big Tech's product is persuasion. The services — social media, search engines, maps, messaging, and more — are delivery systems for persuasion.

Big tech's monopoly

The unprecedented power of Big Tech is a result of the fact that these companies have become almost classic monopolies. Until the 1980s, the US had strict antitrust legislation: the Sherman's act, notorious for big business. Ronald Reagan quickly wiped it out in his years as president, and Margareth Thatcher did the same in the UK, Brian Mulroney in Canada and Helmut Kohl in Germany. While Sherman saw monopolies as a threat to the free market, Reagan believed that government interference threatens the free market. Facebook joins in if it sees itself as a 'natural monopoly': You want to be on a network where your friends are also. But you could also reach your friends if there were more networks that are interoperable. Facebook has used all economic, technical and legal means to combat the latter, including takeover of potential competitors: Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

In the early 21st century, there was still a broad belief that emerging digital technology could lead to a better and more networked society. Bas Boorsma: The development of platforms empowered start-ups, small companies and professionals. Many network utopians believed the era of 'creative commons' had arrived and with it, a non-centralized and highly digital form of 'free market egalitarianism' (New Digital Deal, p.52). Nothing has come of this: Digitalization-powered capitalism now possesses a speed, agility and rawness that is unprecedented (New Digital Deal, p.54). Even the startup community is becoming one big R&D lab for Big Tech. Many startups hope to be acquired by one of the tech giants and then cash in on millions. As a result, Big Tech is on its way to acquire a dominant position in urban development, the health sector and education, in addition to the transport sector.

Antitrust legislation

Thanks to its monopoly position, Big Tech can collect unlimited data, even if European legislation imposes restrictions and occasional fines. After all, a lot of data is collected without citizens objecting to it. Mumford had already realized this in 1967: Many consumers see these companies not only as irresistible, but also ultimately beneficial. These two conditions are the germ of what he called the megatechnics bribe.

The only legislation that can break the power of Big Tech is a strong antitrust policy, unbundling the companies, an absolute ban on acquisitions and rigorous taxation.

Technology agenda

Technology does not develop autonomously. At the moment, Big Tech is indisputably setting the technology agenda in the Western Hemisphere. China is a different story. With Mariana Mazzocato, I believe that governments should take back control of technological development, as they did until the end of the last century. Consider the role of institutions such as DARPA in the US, the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and TNO in the Netherlands. Democratic control is an absolute precondition!

In the chapter 'Digitally just cities' in my e-book 'Cities of the future: Always humane, smart where it helps' (link below), I show, among other things, what Facebook, Amazon and Google could look like after a possible unbundling.

Herman van den Bosch's picture #SmartCityAcademy
Daniela Guzun, Events Manager at Hyperion Lab, posted

Expertise Day- All the advice you need to Ai-ccelerate!

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Expertise Day: All the advice you need to AI-ccelerate. For startups, entrepreneurs, aspiring founders. For the AI community!

🗓 On December 9, Hyperion Lab and Women in AI Netherlands bring you all the experts you need to build and accelerate your AI#HPC, or deeplearning startup for one whole day!

📝 Subsidies, cloud computing, sales, investment readiness, startup enablement, IP law, hiring, community building, you name it!

🧑🏾‍💻 👩🏻‍💻Learn from experts such as Sanin Saracevic from Maestral Solutions, Inc.Maarten Robbers from Ugoo B.V.David Power from EscherCloudMaurice Beckand Verwee from Curiosity, Kyra Dresen from Volta VenturesMargriet Larmit from ROM InWest, Holger Seitz from EP&C, Michael Koenka from Koenka & PartnersOliviana Bailey from Women in AI Netherlands & EscherCloud.

Register your online or offline attendance for any of the sessions.

Daniela Guzun's picture Masterclass / workshop on Dec 9th
Jet van Eeghen, Online communication advisor at Amsterdam Economic Board, posted

AMdEX Meetup over delen van sensor data op Marineterrein

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Vanwege de nieuwe corona-regelgeving houden we op 2 december een online bijeenkomst via Zoom vanaf 16.30 uur. We geven je in korte tijd zoveel mogelijk informatie over hoe het gaat met AMdEX (Amsterdam Data Exchange) en de samenwerking met het Marineterrein. Zij willen de data, afkomstig uit de sensoren op het terrein, delen met geïnteresseerden. Natuurlijk moet dat wel op een manier die veilig en vertrouwd is.

Programma

- Welkom en introductie AMdEX – Willem Koeman (Amsterdam Economic Board)
- AMdEX, een vertrouwd grid voor het delen van data – Hayo Schreijer (deXes)
- Marineterrein Sensor Data: AMdEX en het Marineterrein werken samen aan het delen van sensordata – Tom van Arman (Tapp)
- AMdEX beleid – hoe dwing je regels digitaal af rondom het gebruik van (gevoelige) data af? – Thomas van Binsbergen (UvA)
- Q&A

Neem deel aan dit event via Zoom. Je bent welkom op 2 december om 16:30 uur.

Achtergrondinformatie

AMdEX (Amsterdam Data Exchange) is een open coalitie van bedrijven en onderzoeksinstellingen die samen een open en vertrouwde infrastructuur voor het delen van gegevens ontwerpen en ontwikkelen. De coalitie wil de overgang naar een eerlijke en vertrouwde digitale economie versnellen waarin individuen en organisaties de volledige controle hebben over hun gegevens.

Data: een belofte voor het leven in de stad. Data stellen ons in staat om de grote uitdagingen van moderne steden aan te pakken en ze schoner, veiliger en gezonder te maken. Helaas is toegang tot deze gegevens niet zo eenvoudig als het lijkt. Wie wil bedrijfsgevoelige data delen met een concurrent? Of privacygevoelige data? Door onzekerheid over veiligheid, privacy en data-eigendom wordt minder dan 1% van alle data daadwerkelijk gebruikt, gedeeld en geanalyseerd.

Jet van Eeghen's picture Meet-up on Dec 2nd