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Darko Lagunas is milieusocioloog, en etnografisch onderzoeker. In zijn werk probeert hij juist onderdrukte stemmen die we niet horen een podium te geven. Dat doet hij met geschreven tekst, fotografie en korte films. Hij luistert naar mensen, maar ook naar wat hij noemt, meer-dan-mensen; dieren, planten, zee, en meer. Op dit moment doet hij onderzoek naar de paling als Amsterdammer bij de Ambassade van de Noordzee.
‘Door te luisteren naar meer dan alleen de mens, zien we de grotere structurele problemen waar mensen en meer-dan-mensen slachtoffer van zijn.’
* Elke maand interviewt De Gezonde Stad een duurzame koploper. Deze keer spreken we Darko Lagunas. We gingen bij hem langs terwijl hij onderzoek deed naar de stem voor de paling! Lees het hele interview op onze website.
How can a modern multinational company transition its value chain to preserve nature and biodiversity rather than deplete it?
Metabolic, WWF-France and the Science-Based Targets Network have worked with Bel to understand what areas to target and where the most positive impacts on biodiversity could be made.
Bel will share their best practices, helping other companies to see which methods work overtime. Together with SBTN, we invite more companies to join the effort.
Vorige week heb ik de community geattendeerd op de publicatie van mijn e-book Better cities and digitization. Dat is een compilatie van de 23 posts op deze website het afgelopen half jaar.
Inmiddels is ook de Nederlandstalige versie Steden en digitalisering beschikbaar. Ik sta daarin eerst stil bij de technocentrische en de mensgerichte benadering van smart cities. Daarna problematiseer ik de roep om 'datagestuurd beleid'. Ik ga vervolgens uitvoerig in op ethische principes bij de beoordeling van technologieën. Vervolgens beschrijf ik een procedure hoe steden met digitalisering zouden kunnen omgaan, te beginnen met Kate Raworth. Ook het digitaliseringsbeleid van Amsterdam krijgt aandacht. Daarna komen vier toepassingen aan de orde: bestuur, energie, mobiliteit en gezondheidszorg. Wie doorleest tot op de laatste bladzijde ziet dat Amsterdam Smart City het laatste woord krijgt;-)
Via de link hieronder kun je dit boek gratis downloaden.
For 23 weeks I have published weekly episodes of the series Better Cities. The role of digital technology on this site. I have edited and compiled these episodes in an e-book (88 pages). You can download this for free via the link below. The book has 17 chapters that are grouped into six parts:
1. Hardcore: Technology-centered approaches
2. Towards a humancentric approach
3. Misunderstanding the use of data
4. Ethical considerations
5. Embedding digitization in urban policy
6. Applications (government, mobility, energy and healthcare)
7. Wrapping up: Better cities and technology
Elke maand interviewt De Gezonde Stad een duurzame koploper. Deze keer spreken we Ioana Biris, mede-oprichter van Nature Desks, een organisatie die mensen wil aansporen om meer naar buiten te gaan en te genieten van de natuur, ook in de stad.
Bij Nature Desks draait om het verbinden van natuur, werk en gezondheid. Dat doet ze door bijvoorbeeld de Outdoor Office Day te organiseren, waarop iedereen zijn werk naar buiten verplaatst en tegelijkertijd geniet van het mooie weer. Zo voelen mensen hoe belangrijk het is om natuur in de buurt te hebben, en gaan ze er ook beter voor zorgen!
“Een stad waar een kind lopend naar school kan gaan, en waar een dier zich ook thuis voelt. Een stad met meer groen en minder auto’s. Dat is wat ik wil.”
Lees het hele interview via onderstaande link.
In 2021, the city of Amsterdam has cooperated with citizen-led energy initiatives and The Democratic Society to bring about a decarbonised, decentralised energy future. Read the conclusions and six recommendations in the article by Kate Goodwin of the Democratic Society and Thomas de Groot of the Commons Network!
Samen energie besparen. Samen impact maken.
Het is oorlog in Oekraïne. Een oorlog die deels gefinancierd wordt met de opbrengst van de verkoop van fossiele brandstoffen aan het Westen – dus ook aan Nederland. Ruim 15% van het gas dat we verbruiken in Nederland komt uit Rusland. Als we samen een aantal eenvoudige besparingsstappen zetten, maken we ons energie-onafhankelijker. Benieuw hoe jouw organisatie minder last van de hoge energieprijzen kan hebben en haar duurzame doelen sneller bereikt?
Volg deze zes eenvoudige stappen om energie te besparen
 Naar huis? Lichten uit.
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Doe voor je het kantoor verlaat alle lichten en computers uit. Het helpt! #zetookdeknopom
 Mag het een graadje minder?
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Zet de verwarming op kantoor op max. 19 graden een draag een trui. Echt, dat graadje minder helpt! #zetookdeknopom
 Koel en verwarm in proportie
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Moet de koeling niet veel te hard draaien voor de grootte van de ruimte en de temperatuur buiten? Check en pas het aan. #zetookdeknopom
 Druk de ECO-knop in
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Druk op de spaarstand in van de vaatwasser en elektrische apparatuur, zet energiebesparing aan op je laptop en kijk eens naar het power management van je dataservers. Check en pas het aan. #zetookdeknopom
 Wek je eigen energie op
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Plaats zonnepanelen boven op het dak van jouw kantoor of vraag jouw verhuurder om het te doen. #zetookdeknopom
 Pak wat vaker de fiets
Onze energierekening stijgt, we moeten nu minder afhankelijk worden van gas uit Rusland én we willen klimaatverandering tegengaan. Wat jij kunt doen? Laat je auto staan en pak wat vaker de fiets. Trappen helpt, ook voor je gezondheid! #zetookdeknopom
- Spread the word. Laat zien wat jouw organisatie doet om energie te besparen. Deel deze campagne én jouw acties op social media en websites.
- Besparen is verplicht. Grotere organisaties zijn verplicht om maatregelen te nemen waarvan vaststaat dat ze binnen 5 jaar terug te verdienen zijn. Dit zijn ook handige lijstjes voor kleinere organisaties: handhaaf de wet – tussen kolen & Parijs (urgenda.nl) En kijk bij https://www.zetookdeknopom.nl/bedrijven.
- Bespaar ook thuis. Ook thuis kan je tegengas geven door energie te besparen. Kijk voor meer ideeën op https://www.zetookdeknopom.nl/.
Om het doel van 15% minder gas te halen in 2022 zullen er meer campagnes en ondersteuning komen voor bewoners en bedrijven van een aantal samenwerkende partijen in de Metropoolregio Amsterdam (met o.a. Amsterdam Economic Board, Duurzaamheidsraad Amsterdam, gemeente Amsterdam, Green Business Club, Metropoolregio Amsterdam, 02025).
In the last episode of the Better cities: The contribution of digital technology-series, I will answer the question that is implied in the title of the series, namely how do we ensure that technology contributes to socially and environmentally sustainable cities. But first a quick update.
Smart city, what was it like again?
In 2009, IMB launched a global marketing campaign around the previously little-known concept of 'smart city' with the aim of making city governments receptive to ICT applications in the public sector. The initial emphasis was on process control (see episode 3). Especially emerging countries were interested. Many made plans to build smart cities 'from scratch', also meant to attract foreign investors. The Korean city of Songdo, developed by Cisco and Gale International, is a well-known example. The construction of smart cities has also started in Africa, such as Eko-Atlantic City (Nigeria), Konzo Technology City and Appolonia City (Ghana). So far, these cities have not been a great success.
The emphasis soon shifted from process control to using data from the residents themselves. Google wanted to supplement its already rich collection of data with data that city dwellers provided with their mobile phones to create a range of new commercial applications. Its sister company Sidewalk Labs, which was set up for that purpose, started developing a pilot project in Toronto. That failed, partly due to the growing resistance to the violation of privacy. This opposition has had global repercussions and led in many countries to legislation to better protect privacy. China and cities in Southeast Asia - where Singapore is leading the way - ignored this criticism.
The rapid development of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, gave further impetus to discussion about the ethical implications of technology (episodes 9-13). Especially in the US, applications in facial recognition and predictive police were heavily criticized (episode 16). Artificial intelligence had meanwhile become widespread, for example to automate decision-making (think of the infamous Dutch allowance affair) or to simulate urban processes with, for example, digital twins (episode 5).
This current situation - particularly in the Netherlands - can be characterized on the one hand by the development of regulations to safeguard ethical principles (episode 14) and on the other by the search for responsible applications of digital technology (episode 15). The use of the term 'smart city' seems to be subject to some erosion. Here we are picking up the thread.
The dozens of descriptions of the term 'smart city' not only vary widely but they also evoke conflicting feelings. Some see (digital) technology as an effective means of urban growth; others see it as a threat. The question is therefore how useful the term 'smart city' is still. Touria Meliani, alderman of Amsterdam, prefers to speak of 'wise city' than of 'smart city' to emphasize that she is serious about putting people first. According to her, the term 'smart city' mainly emphasizes the technical approach to things. She is not the first. Previously, Daniel Latorre, place making specialist in New York and Francesco Schianchi, professor of urban design in Milan also argued for replacing 'smart' with 'wise'. Both use this term to express that urban policy should be based profoundly on the wishes and needs of citizens.
Whatever term you use, it is primarily about answering the question of how you ensure that people - residents and other stakeholders of a city - are put in the center. You can think of three criteria here:
1. An eye for the impact on the poorest part of the population
There is a striking shift in the literature on smart cities. Until recently, most articles focused on the significance of 'urban tech' for mobility, reduction of energy use and public safety. In a short time, much more attention has been paid to subjects such as the accessibility of the Internet, the (digital) accessibility of urban services and health care, energy and transport poverty and the consequences of gentrification. In other words, a shift took place from efficiency to equality and from physical interventions to social change. The reason is that many measures that are intended to improve the living environment led to an increase in the (rental) price and thus reduce the availability of homes.
2. Substantial share of co-creation
Boyd Cohen distinguishes three types of smart city projects. The first type (smart city 1.0) is technology- or corporate-driven. In this case, companies deliver instruments or software 'off the shelf'. For example, the provision of a residential area with adaptive street lighting. The second type (smart city 2.0) is technology enabled, also known as government-driven. In this case, a municipality develops a plan and then issues a tender. For example, connecting and programming traffic light installations, so that emergency services and public transport always receive the green light. The third type (smart city 3.0) is community-driven and based on citizen co-creation, for example an energy cooperative. In the latter case, there is the greatest chance that the wishes of the citizens concerned will come first.
A good example of co-creation between different stakeholders is the development of the Brain port Smart District in Helmond, a mixed neighborhood where living, working, generating energy, producing food, and regulating a circular neighborhood will go hand in hand. The future residents and entrepreneurs, together with experts, are investigating which state-of-the-art technology can help them with this.
Bias among developers plays a major role in the use of artificial intelligence. The best way to combat bias (and for a variety of other reasons, too) is to use diversity as a criterion when building development teams. But also (ethical) committees that monitor the responsible purchasing and use of (digital) technologies are better equipped for their task the more diverse they are.
Respecting urban complexity
In his essay The porous city, Gavin Starks describes how smart cities, with their technical utopianism and marketing jargon, ignore the plurality of the drivers of human behavior and instead see people primarily as homo economicus, driven by material gain and self-interest.
The best example is Singapore – the number 1 on the Smart City list, where techno-utopianism reigns supreme. This one-party state provides prosperity, convenience, and luxury using the most diverse digital aids to everyone who exhibits desirable behavior. There is little room for a differing opinion. A rapidly growing number of CCTV cameras – soon to be 200,000 – ensures that everyone literally stays within the lines. If not, the culprit can be quickly located with automatic facial recognition and crowd analytics.
Anyone who wants to understand human life in the city and does not want to start from simplistic assumptions such as homo economicus must respect the complexity of the city, try to understand it, and know that careless intervention might have huge unintended consequences.
The complexity of the city is the main argument against the use of reductionist adjectives such as 'smart', but also 'sharing', circular, climate-neutral', ‘resilient' and more. In addition, the term smart refers to a means that is rarely seen as an aim as such. If an adjective were desirable, I prefer the term 'humane city'.
But whatever you name a city, it is necessary to emphasize that it is a complex organism with many facets, the coherence of which must be well understood by all stakeholders for the city to prosper and its inhabitants to be happy.
Digitization. Two tracks
City authorities that are aware of the complexity of their city can best approach digitization along two tracks. The first aims to translate the city's problems and ambitions into policy and consider digital instruments a part of the whole array of other instruments. The second track is the application of ethical principles in the search for and development of digital tools. Both tracks influence each other.
Track 1: The contribution of digital technology
Digital technology is no more or less than one of the instruments with which a city works towards an ecologically and socially sustainable future. To articulate what such a future is meaning, I introduced Kate Raworth's ideas about the donut economy (episode 9). Designing a vision for the future must be a broadly supported democratic process. In this process, citizens also check the solution of their own problems against the prosperity of future generations and of people elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, policy makers must seamlessly integrate digital and other policy instruments, such as legislation, funding, and information provision (episode 8).
The most important question when it comes to (digital) technology is therefore which (digital) technological tools contribute to the realization of a socially and ecologically sustainable city.
Track 2: The ethical use of technology
In the world in which we realize the sustainable city of the future, digital technology is developing rapidly. Cities are confronted with these technologies through powerful smart city technology marketing. The most important question that cities should ask themselves in this regard is How do we evaluate the technology offered and that we want to develop from an ethical perspective. The first to be confronted with this question—besides hopefully the industry itself—is the department of the Chief Information or Technology officer. He or she naturally participates in the first track-process and can advise policymakers at an early stage. I previously inventoried (ethical) criteria that play a role in the assessment of technological instrument.
In the management of cities, both tracks come together, resulting in one central question: Which (digital) technologies are eligible to support us towards a sustainable future in a responsible way. This series has not provided a ready-made answer; this depends on the policy content and context. However, the successive editions of this series will have provided necessary constituents of the answer.
In my e-book Cities of the Future. Always humane, smart if helpful, I have carried out the policy process as described above, based on current knowledge about urban policy and urban developments. This has led to the identification of 13 themes and 75 actions, with references to potentially useful technology. You can download the e-book here:
I updated and put together 75 posts and articles about the energy transition in a new e-book (in Dutch) 'Kennisdossier Zonne-energie' (120 pages). If you interested, download it for free with the link below.
PODCAST: In this episode of the Tech Data Tech on Stage podcast we discuss thorny 21st century issues like opting-in and opting out of public space, innovation outpacing governments and planners, hyper transparency = open source & open data, and “greening of IT” versus “greening by IT” . Awesome round table with Lieke Hamers of Dell Technologies, Tom van Arman of TAPP, Markus Pfundstein of LIFE electronic and Kees Tolsma of Tech Data. A great 30min session moderated by Danny Frietman and produced by Patrick Vogelaar
Stories from the living labs front line: Bureau Marineterrein and Johan Cruijff Arena
Niet langer hoef je jouw groente- en fruitafval weg te gooien, want samen maken we er lokaal waardevolle compost van, met Afval naar Oogst! Op 5 verschillende locaties in de stad kun je je nu aanmelden om GF-afval in te leveren. Op 23 april tijdens de kick-off leer je alle ins & outs. Zo maken we samen de cirkel rond. Composteer je mee?
Afval naar Oogst is ontsproten op buurttuin 'I can change the world with my two hands' waar nu meer dan 100 huishoudens hun GF-afval inleveren, dat wordt omgezet tot goede compost, voor nog betere oogst in de tuin! Het is de ambitie nog veel meer plekken te creëren voor lokale inzameling van groente- en fruitafval.
Bijna drie jaar na de lancering van de eerste versie van de groenblauwe kaart van Amsterdam en 3.000 exemplaren verder, hebben we een tweede - herziene - druk van #UrbanNatureAmsterdam gemaakt. Maandagavond 21 maart werd tijdens Vier de Lente! in Pakhuis de Zwijger het eerste exemplaar uitgereikt aan de nieuwe groenburgemeester van Amsterdam.
Wat is nieuw in deze tweede versie van #UrbanNatureAmsterdam? Ontdek bijvoorbeeld 🌱 de eekhoornbruggen in het Gijsbrecht van Aemstelpark, 🌱 twee nieuwe stadsparken, 🌱 het monumentaal groen of de eerste tiny forest van de stad, 🌱 nieuwe stadse Trage Tochten, 🌱 de natuur in de 'Port of Amsterdam', 🌱 nieuwe partners, 🌱 informatie over natuur inclusief bouwen of 🌱 de vernieuwde top-10 lijsten met dingen die je in de stad kunt doen.
Op de voorzijde van de kaart zie je letterlijk hoeveel groen en blauw in Amsterdam is te vinden: de parken, (binnen)tuinen, plantsoenen, natuurspeeltuinen, sportvelden, grachten, meren, polders en bossen. De achterzijde van de kaart vol met informatie fungeert als een oproep aan de gebruiker: ontdek de natuur, maar draag ook bij aan vergroening van de stad.
Met dank aan Urban Good CIC en aan onze nieuwe partners Buurtgroen020, Anmec en Natuurfontein. En partners Gemeente Amsterdam, Staatsbosbeheer, Waterschap Amstel, Gooi en Vecht en Recreatie Noord Holland.
In the 19th episode of the Better cities - the contribution of digital technology-series, I address the question of how digital technology can help in the long road to a circular society.
The contribution of digital technology becomes most visible when viewed in conjunction with other policy instruments and actions. That is why in this episode Amsterdam is in the spotlight; this city has been pursuing a consistent circular policy from 2015 onwards.
Why is a circular economy necessary?
European countries together need an average of 2.9 copies of planet Earth to meet the needs for raw materials. But even one Earth has finite resources, and it is therefore obvious that more and more countries aim to be circular by 2050. The circular processing ladder contains a range of options with the lowest step recovery of energy from materials unsuitable for re-use and furthermore recycling, repurposing, remanufacturing, renovation, repair, reuse, reduction, reconsideration to rejection.
A circular economy is an economic and industrial system that eliminates waste and takes the reusability of products and raw materials and the regenerative capacity of natural resources as a starting point, minimizes value destruction in the total system and pursues value creation in every link of the system. In this context, the term cradle-to-cradle design is often referred to. This is done in terms of material flows and the preservation of values, so that in the long term there is no longer any need for an influx of virgin materials. Maersk has developed a cradle-to-cradle passport, a first for the shipping industry, consisting of a database of all ship components, including all the steel, for recycling, reuse and remanufacturing of new ships or their parts.
The Digital Sustainability-memorandum is considering digitization as an enabler on the way to a circular economy. A fourfold distinction is made in this regard: (1) the coordination of supply and demand of materials, (2) facilitating maintenance and repairs, (3) improving the production process, and (4) supporting partners in chain cooperation. Examples of all these options are discussed below.
Amsterdam and the realization of circular principles
Amsterdam's ambition is to use 50% less virgin raw materials by 2030 compared to the current situation. This goal is also very important for achieving its climate targets: 63% of the CO2 emissions for which the city is responsible come from products and materials that are produced abroad. The municipal government can only partly influence this steam. That is why the policy focuses on three areas where the city has most influence, namely food and organic residual flows, consumption and the built environment.
Amsterdam published its first policy plan Amsterdam Circular: Vision and roadmap for the city and regionin 2015. The emphasis was on organic waste and the built environment. It included 75 action points and its approach was positively evaluated in 2018 and a new report was published. It was decided to continue with the same emphasis with the addition of food and consumption. The addition of consumption was obvious, because Amsterdam had been making a strong case for the sharing economy for some time.
Shortly after the publication of the new report, Kate Raworth’s donut-principles made their entrance. Remarkably, none of the previous reports contain a reference to her work on the donut economics. In May 2019, the first fruit of the collaboration with Kate Raworth appeared, building on the report from the previous year. The collaboration resulted in a new report Building blocks for the new Amsterdam Circular 2020-2025 strategy, involving many stakeholders from the sectors, food and organic residual flows, consumption, and construction. It resulted in 17 building blocks, named 'development directions'.
This report was based on the original 2012 publication on the donut economy. However, there turned out to be one pitfall. The original donut model was designed for global-level applications, which, according to Kate Raworth, cannot be directly traced to the urban level. The social implications of behavior in one city not only affect this city itself, but also the rest of the world. The same applies to the ecological aspects.
As a next step Kate Raworth invited representatives from Amsterdam, Philadelphia and Portland to join a task force and discover what a city-level donut model looks like. In each of these cities, dozens of officials and citizens participated in an interactive process. The result was a new model that uses four lenses to view urban activities: The first and second resemble the original lenses but applied at the city level, for example, the impact of local industry on local nature. The third is how activities in a certain city had a negative social impact on the rest of the world, think for example of clothing, produced under poor conditions. The fourth is the impact of local actions on nature worldwide.
These activities resulted in a new publication, The city donut for Amsterdam. It is an instrument for change that can be applied more broadly than to circular policy. In this publication, the new donut model is mainly used as a conceptual model. Instead of exact calculations, snapshots are collected as illustrations.
While city representatives were busy developing the urban donut model, the work towards the circular city continued unabated, resulting in the publication of the final circular strategy for the period 2020 – 2025 and the action plan for the period 2020 – 2021 at almost the same time. In terms of content, these plans are in line with the publication of the building blocks-report from 2019, including the application of the 'old' donut model from 2012.
In the following, I use both the strategy and the action plan to show the role of digital tools. At the end, I come back to the future role of the city donut.
Digital techniques in the circular strategy of Amsterdam 2020 – 2025
I align with the three value chains: food and organic residual flows, consumption and the built environment that are central to the strategy. Three ambitions are formulated for each of these three, further detailed in several action directions, each containing several projects, most with measurable results to attain in 2021. In addition, a couple of projects are described, that bare related to types of companies, institutions and the port. Finally, there are overarching projects, in which I will again pay attention to digitization, also because the role of the city donut will become visible here.
Below I briefly describe the three value chains, name the three ambitions for each, and give references to digital tools that will play a role within each of the three value chains.
Value chain food and organic residual flows
The municipality wants to combat food waste and reuse organic residual flows as much as possible. The role of regionally produced (plant-based) food will be strengthened in line with the Amsterdam food strategy. In realizing its objectives, the municipality participates in an extensive European project, Rumore.
The three ambitions are: (V1) Short food chains provide a robust, sustainable sensory system, (V2) Healthy and sustainable food for Amsterdammers and (V3) Food and organic residual flows.
Examples of digital tools
• GROWx vertical farm is a farm that aims to achieve maximum returns by applying artificial intelligence to the indoor cultivation of food crops, among other things.
• Restore is a measurement system and simulation model for Amsterdam and surrounding municipalities and companies that provides insight into the financial, ecological, and social effects of various forms of composting and bio-fermentation, including the use of biomass.
• The InstockMarket platform will map (surplus) food flows and - if possible - predict them so that the catering industry can anticipate this when purchasing. The data from this project will be linked to the circular economy data platform
• The Platform www.Vanamsterdamsevloer.nl makes all local food initiatives (including food events) visible and residents of Amsterdam can share news about food and urban agriculture.
Value chain consumer goods
The emphasis is on consumer goods that contribute substantially to the depletion of rare raw materials, their production is polluting and often takes place under poor working conditions. In addition, the impact on climate change is significant. The emphasis is on electronics, textiles, and furniture because repair is also possible in each of these cases.
Furthermore, a lot of profit can be made by good collection and reuse through sharing and exchange.
Here too, a multi-year research project funded by the European Commission is important. The Reflow project maps data on flows of materials and develops processes and technology to support their implementation.
The ambitions are :(C1) The municipality is setting a good example and will consume less; (C2) Together we make the most of what we have and (C3) Amsterdam makes the most of discarded products.
Examples of digital tools
• The municipality will develop digital tools within the (purchasing) systems that support civil officers in circular procurement.
• The West-district supports www.warewesten.nl. This website brings together the sustainable fashion addresses of Amsterdam-West.
• Using artificial intelligence, among other things, it is being investigated how the lifespan of various goods can be extended so that they do not end up with bulky waste. This can be used, for example, on the municipal website to offer the option of first offering goods for sale or for giving via existing online platforms before they are registered as bulky waste.
• Indirectly, it is worth noting that the municipality wants to make the use of ICT more sustainable by purchasing less equipment (for example through 'hardware as a service'), extending the lifespan of equipment and reducing its energy consumption.
Value chain built environment
This value chain was also chosen because the municipality has an important voice in what and where is built and in the development of the public space. The municipality itself is also a major user of buildings.
In terms of the built environment, circular construction can be achieved through large-scale reuse of construction waste. By ensuring that buildings can be used for more purposes, their demolition can be slowed down. Sustainable materials can also be used in the design of public spaces – from roads and bridges to playgrounds. In addition, consideration could be given to the climate-adaptive design of the city, resulting in cleaner air and dealing with increasing heat and rainfall.
The ambitions are: (G1): We do circular development together; (G2) The municipality sets a good example and uses circular criteria; (G3) We deal circularly with the existing city.
Examples of digital tools
• Introduction of large-scale application of material passports to have the most complete information possible on material use in all phases of the life cycle of buildings. This is linked to national plans, among other things by providing all materials with an OR code.
• Research into the possibilities of a (national) online materials marketplace. Such a marketplace will influence (local) material hubs, such as the Amstel III construction hub and the creation of circular business cases.
• Providing insight into the supply (demolition, renovation) and demand (new construction, renovation) of circular building materials and thus of circular material flows.
• Creating a digital twin of the public space and the subsurface to be able to furnish and maintain it functionally and circularly.
• Research in digital production due to the rapid development of digital production techniques and their applications, such as robots and 3D printing.
• Research into making the construction, equipment and water and energy consumption of data centers more sustainable.
• Research into which data about residents and users of buildings can be made public and which data should remain private.
The municipality could further simplify the process of permit applications by digitizing everything, enabling applicants to upload the necessary municipal data and construction drawings and calculating the BREAAM score. This applies to both new and renovated buildings.
Overarching theme: Data platform and monitor circular economy
On the road to a circular economy, a lot of data will become available and just as much data is needed to help citizens, companies, and institutions to make sustainable choices and to determine whether the goal of 100% circularity by 2050 is within reach. That is why a data platform and monitor is being developed. This numerically maps all material, recycle, residual and waste flows that enter, leave, and go around the city. This also makes it possible to calculate the impact on CO2 emissions. The data from the material passports and the materials marketplace are also integrated herein, if possible. The monitor also includes social aspects such as health, education, and equality. Relevant data will be open and accessible, so that it can be used for the development of new innovations and applications by the municipality and third parties, also to connect with other urban transitions.
The monitor connects to the four lenses of the city donut of Amsterdam and will collect the data that is currently missing to provide full quantitative insight. This also concerns the environmental impact of all materials that Amsterdam imports for its own consumption. Where the city donut is currently only a partially quantified, the monitor will continuously provide insight into whether the municipality is staying within the ecological preconditions or where it falls short with regard to the minimum social requirements.
Amsterdam's circular strategy and the resulting action agenda is ambitious and will inspire many other cities. Because many projects are small- and medium scaled, it is not yet possible to assess to what extent the strategy and action agenda help to achieve the targets (50% circularity in 2030 and 100% in 2050). Commitment to the development of the monitor is therefore crucial and the municipality will also have to keep an open eye on the parallel actions that citizens, the business community, the port and other institutions must take to achieve their share. After all, becoming circular encompasses much more than food and organic waste, consumption, and construction.
To document the process of the City of Amsterdam's adaptation of circular policy and the contribution of Kate Raworth, I have put together a brief dossier. This includes references to (copies of) all relevant reports and an indication of their content. This file can be downloaded by following the link below.:
More than 50% of the European population currently lives in urban areas, a proportion that is projected to increase to almost 70% by 2050. Distributed small scale urban food growers can together make a difference in providing healthy food in cities, in a climate neutral and sustainable way. Zéger Nieuweboer, the founder of the urban food growers cooperation www.arnhemgroen.nl gave an interview about the YIMBY experience of small scale food growing.in the city.
The 17th edition of the Better cities - the role of digital technology series deals with strengthening local democracy through digitization.
In 1339, Ambrogio Lorenzetti completed his famous series of six paintings in the Town Hall of the Italian city of Siena, entitled The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. The above excerpt refers to the characteristics of good government: putting the interests of citizens first, renouncing self-interest, and integrity. But also developing a vision together with all those involved, transparency, justice and efficiently carrying out its many tasks.
In this article, I will discuss citizens’ involvement in government. The complaint is widely heard that democracy is reduced to voting once every few years and even then, it is not clear in advance what the policy of a new (city) government will be, due to the need to form coalitions. Digitization can substantially strengthen the citizen's input.
Being well-informed: the foundation of democracy
Digital channels are an excellent way to inform citizens, but digital disinformation and deepfakes are also on the rise. In this regard, YouTube has become notorious. Political microtargeting via Facebook has an uncontrollable impact and ruins the political debate. On the other hand, the 'Stemwijzer' app is a well-respected tool of informing citizens. Meanwhile, this tool has been adopted by a number of countries.
There are many other valuable digital sources of information, which increase the transparency of politics, for example by disclosing petty bribery, 'creative' accounting and preferential treatment. Prozorro (Ukraine) is a website that takes tenders away from the private sphere, My Society (UK) is an extensive collection of open source tools to hold those in power to account, Zašto (Serbia) is a website that compares statements of politicians with their actions and Funky Citizens (Romania) exposes irresponsible government spending, miscarriages of justice and forms of indecent political conduct.
Every time I am amazed at the fumbling with huge ballot-papers that then must be counted by hand. Estonia is leading the way here; people vote digitally from home without security risks. If this is not possible in other countries, then I have my doubts about the security of other digital applications
Estonia is the best example of far-reaching digitization of public and private services. Not only the usual municipal services, but also applying for building permits, registering for schools, health affairs, banking, taxes, police, and voting. All these things happen via one digital platform - X-road – that meets the highest security requirements. Data is stored in a decentral way via end-to-end encryption using blockchain technology. Citizens manage their own data.
More than voting
There is a widespread desire among citizens for greater involvement in political decision-making. This includes referenda and popular assemblies, which still take place in Swiss municipalities. But there is little room here for the exchange of views, let alone discussion. Moreover, several authors try to improve direct democracy by bypassing the role of political parties. In his book Against elections (2013), the Flemish political scientist David van Reybrouck proposes appointing representatives based on weighted lottery. A lottery alone does not yet provide a representative group, because never more than 10% of the chosen people respond to the invitation. What remains is a predominantly indigenous group, over 50 years of age with higher education, interested in politics.
The strength of citizens' forums is that they enable deliberation between independent citizens rather than representatives of political parties, who are bound in every way by coalition agreements.
Van Reybrouck’s ideas have been adopted in different ways and in different places, but always as a complement to representative democracy. Citizens' forums have achieved good results in Ireland. There are also several examples in the Netherlands. The biggest bottleneck has been the acceptance of the results by established political bodies. In April 2021, a committee led by Alex Brenninkmeijer advised positive about the value of citizens' forums in climate policy in an advisory report to the House of Representatives.
Another interesting option is liquid democracy. Here, like direct democracy, citizens can vote on all issues. However, they can also transfer their vote to someone else, who they believe is more involved. This person can also transfer the received mandates. With secure IT, this is easy to organize. Examples of useful apps include Adhocracy (Germany), a platform for participation, collaboration and idea generation, Licracy, a virtual people's parliament, Sovrin, an open source decentralized protocol for any kind of organization. Insights Management Tool is an application for converting opinions of a large amounts of citizens into 'insights' that can benefit politicians. I will add a few more applications, which are mainly intended for cities: EngageCitizens (many South European cities including Braga, Portugal), an application that enables citizens to submit ideas and discuss them in virtual discussion groups, Active Citizens (Moscow), an application where residents can participate in referendums, CitizenLab, a medium for citizens to discuss ideas about local issues. Finally, I refer to the comprehensive applications Decide Madrid and Decidem (Barcelona), which I have discussed elsewhere.
All these apps increase the involvement of part of the citizens in government. These are usually highly educated. Meetings are held in Madrid and Barcelona to let underprivileged residents also make their voices heard.
Due to the many and complicated tasks that city authorities must deal with and the often equally complicated decision making in the city council, it is not easy create room for decentralized citizen participation. Several cities try to improve citizen participation in political decentralization. The establishment of city districts with their own administrative bodies often leads to power struggles between central and decentralized politicians, without residents gaining more influence.
According to Jan Schrijver, the centralized administrative culture of Amsterdam the city’s ideals of citizen participation often clashes even though the impressive amount of policy instruments to promote participation: Initiating a referendum has been made more accessible, social initiatives can be subsidized, and confirmed in neighborhood rights, including the 'right to challenge' and neighborhoods have a budget of their own.
Very recently, a 'mini-citizen deliberation' was held under the leadership of Alex Brenninkmeijer on the concrete question of how Amsterdam can accelerate the energy transition. This meeting was very productive, and the participants were satisfied with the progress. It will become clear soon whether the city council will adopt the proposals.
A city of commons
Democratization is mostly conceived of as a decision-making process, the result of which the municipal organization carries out. The ultimate step of democratization, after decentralization, is autonomy: Residents not only decide on, for example, playgrounds in their neighborhood, they also ensure that these are provided. Increasingly, the latter is formally established in the right to challenge. For example, a group of residents demonstrates that they can perform a previously municipal task better and often cheaper themselves. This is a significant step on the participation ladderfrom participating in decision-making autonomy.
In Italy this process has boomed, and the city of Bologna has become a stronghold of urban commons. Citizens become designers, managers, and users of some municipal tasks. Creating green areas, converting an empty house into affordable units for students, the elderly, or migrants, operating a minibus service, cleaning, and maintaining the city walls, refurbishing parts of the public space and much more.
From 2011, commons have been given a formal status. The most important instruments in this regard are cooperation-pacts. In each pact, city authorities and the parties involved (informal groups, NGOs, schools, entrepreneurs) lay down agreements about their activities, responsibilities, and power. Hundreds of pacts have been signed since the regulation was adopted. The city provides what the citizens need - money, material, housing, advice - and the citizens make their time, skills, and organizational capacity available. In some cases, commons also have a commercial purpose, for example the revitalization of a shopping street by the entrepreneurs established there. In that case, they often unite in a cooperative.
Only a limited number of people feel attracted to talk along the lines of politics, but many more people want to do something. This is at the roots of the success of the commons-movement. This explains the success of the commons-movement in Italy and elsewhere.
Democracy after the commons
The commons-movement might influence urban governance in the longer term. The Italian political scientist Christian Iaione predicts the emergence of a city of commons. Here, all most urban tasks are performed by commons and cooperatives. The city is a network of both, decision-making is decentralized and deconcentrated.
A similar idea The city as a platform has emerged in the US coming from a completely different direction. Instead of simply voting every few years and leaving city administration to elected officials and expert bureaucrats, the networked city sees citizens as co designers, co-producers, and co-learners, according to Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder of GovLab. In the city as a platform residents look individually and collectively for new and better ways to meet their needs and enliven public life. These may be neighborhood-based initiatives, for example the redevelopment of a neighborhood or city-wide initiatives, for example cooperative of taxi drivers, competing with Uber.
Without saying it in so many words, everyone involved sees both the city of commons and the city as a platform as an opportunity to make citizens the engine of urban development again instead of multinational companies. But in view of the (financial) power of these companies, it could also turn out that they appropriate the city. We have already experienced this once when a sympathetic and democratic sharing platform such as Airbnb grew into a multinational enterprise with a far-reaching impact on urban life. For the time being, therefore, city administrators can best focus on enabling and supporting citizens' joint action to make cities more beautiful, liveable, and sustainable.
The above builds on two essays included in my e-book Cities of the Future: Always humane, smart if helpful. The first essay Strengthening Urban Democracy – The Well-Governed City elaborates on the concepts of direct democracy, decentralization and autonomy and describes digital applications for both improving services and urban democracy. The second essay Citizens' Initiatives – City of the Commons extensively examines activities in various places in the world to increase the involvement of residents in their place of residence, and in that context discusses in detail the idea behind 'commons'. The e-book can be downloaded by following the link below.
The 16th episode of the series Building sustainable cities - The contribution of digital technology reveals what can happen if the power of artificial intelligence is not used in a responsible manner.
The fight against crime in the United States, has been the scene of artificial intelligence’s abuse for years. As will become apparent, this is not only the result of bias. In episode 11, I discussed why artificial intelligence is a fundamentally new way of using computers. Until then, computers were programmed to perform operations such as structuring data and making decisions. In the case of artificial intelligence, they are trained to do so. However, it is still people who design the instructions (algorithms) and are responsible for the outcomes, although the way in which the computer performs its calculations is increasingly becoming a 'black box'.
Applications of artificial intelligence in the police
Experienced detectives are traditionally trained to compare the 'modus operandi' of crimes to track down perpetrators. Due to the labor-intensive nature of the manual implementation, the question soon arose as to whether computers could be of assistance. A first attempt to do so in 2012 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resulted in grouping past crimes into clusters that were likely to have been committed by the same perpetrator(s). When creating the algorithm, the intuition of experienced police officers was the starting point. Sometimes it was possible to predict where and when a burglar might strike, leading to additional surveillance and an arrest.
These first attempts were soon refined and taken up by commercial companies. The two most used techniques that resulted are predictive policing (PredPol) and facial recognition.
In the case of predictive policing, patrols are given directions in which neighborhood or even street they should patrol at a given moment because it has been calculated that the risk of crimes (vandalism, burglary, violence) is then greatest. Anyone who behaves 'suspiciously' risks to be arrested. Facial recognition plays also an important role in this.
Both predictive policing and facial recognition are based on a "learning set" of tens of thousands of "suspicious" individuals. At one point, New York police had a database of 48,000 individuals. 66% of those were black, 31.7% were Latino and only 1% were white. This composition has everything to do with the working method of the police. Although drug use in cities in the US is common in all neighborhoods, policing based on PredPol and similar systems is focused on a few neighborhoods (of color). Then, it is not surprising that most drug-related crimes are retrieved there and, as a result, the composition of the database became even more skewed.
In these cases, 'bias' is the cause of the unethical effect of the application of artificial intelligence. Algorithms always reflect the assumptions, views, and values of their creators. They do not predict the future, but make sure that the past is reproduced. This also applies to applications outside the police force. The St. George Hospital Medical School in London has employed disproportionately many white males for at least a decade because the leather set reflected the incumbent staff. The criticized Dutch System Risk Indication System also uses historical data about fines, debts, benefits, education, and integration to search more effectively for people who abuse benefits or allowances. This is not objectionable but should never lead to 'automatic' incrimination without further investigation and the exclusion of less obvious persons.
The simple fact that the police have a disproportionate presence in alleged hotspots and are very keen on any form of suspicious behavior means that the number of confrontations with violent results has increased rapidly. In 2017 alone, police crackdowns in the US resulted in an unprecedented 1,100 casualties, of which only a limited number of whites. In addition, the police have been engaged in racial profiling for decades. Between 2004-2012, the New York Police Department checked more than 4.4 million residents. Most of these checks resulted in no further action. In about 83% of the cases, the person was black or Latino, although the two groups together make up just over half of the population. For many citizens of colour in the US, the police do not represent 'the good', but have become part of a hostile state power.
In New York, in 2017, a municipal provision to regulate the use of artificial intelligence was proposed, the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act (POST). The Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a prominent US civil rights organization, urged the New York City Council to ban the use of data made available because of discriminatory or biased enforcement policies. This wish was granted in June 2019, and this resulted in the number of persons included in the database being reduced from 42,000 to 18,000. It concerned all persons who had been included in the system without concrete suspicion.
San Francisco, Portland, and a range of other cities have gone a few steps further and banned the use of facial recognition technology by police and other public authorities. Experts recognize that the artificial intelligence underlying facial recognition systems is still imprecise, especially when it comes to identifying the non-white population.
The societal roots of crime
Knowledge of how to reduce bias in algorithms has grown, but instead of solving the problem, awareness has grown into a much deeper problem. It is about the causes of crime itself and the realization that the police can never remove them.
Crime and recidivism are associated with inequality, poverty, poor housing, unemployment, use of alcohol and drugs, and untreated mental illness. These are also dominant characteristics of neighborhoods with a lot of crime. As a result, residents of these neighborhoods are unable to lead a decent life. These conditions are stressors that influence the quality of the parent-child relationship too: attachment problems, insufficient parental supervision, including tolerance of alcohol and drugs, lack of discipline or an excess of authoritarian behavior. All in all, these conditions increase the likelihood that young people will be involved in crime, and they diminish the prospect of a successful career in school and elsewhere.
The ultimate measures to reduce crime in the longer term and to improve security are: sufficient income, adequate housing, affordable childcare, especially for 'broken families' and unwed mothers and ample opportunities for girls' education. But also, care for young people who have encountered crime for the first time, to prevent them from making the mistake again.
This will not solve the problems in the short term. A large proportion of those arrested by the police in the US are addicted to drugs or alcohol, are severely mentally disturbed, have serious problems in their home environment - if any - and have given up hope for a better future. Based on this understanding, the police in Johnson County, Kansas, have been calling for help from mental health professionals for years, rather than handcuffing those arrested right away. This approach has proved successful and caught the attention of the White House during the Obama administration. Lynn Overmann, who works as a senior advisor in the president’s technology office, has therefore started the Data-Driven Justice Initiative. The immediate reason was that the prisons appeared to be crowded by seriously disturbed psychiatric patients. Coincidentally, Johnson County had an integrated data system that stores both crime and health data. In other cities, these are kept in incomparable data silos. Together with the University of Chicago Data Science for Social Good Program, artificial intelligence was used to analyze a database of 127,000 people. The aim was to find out, based on historical data, which of those involved was most likely to be arrested within a month. This is not with the intention of hastening an arrest with predictive techniques, but instead to offer them targeted medical assistance. This program was picked up in several cities and in Miami it resulted in a 40% reduction in arrests and the closing of an entire prison.
What does this example teach? The rise of artificial intelligence caused Wire editor Chris Anderson to call it the end of the theory. He couldn't be more wrong! Theory has never disappeared; at most it has disappeared from the consciousness of those who work with artificial intelligence. In his book The end of policing, Alex Vitale concludes: Unless cities alter the police's core functions and values, use by police of even the most fair and accurate algorithms is likely to enhance discriminatory and unjust outcomes (p. 28). Ben Green adds: The assumption is: we predicted crime here and you send in police. But what if you used data and sent in resources? (The smart enough city, p. 78).
The point is to replace the dominant paradigm of identifying, prosecuting and incarcerating criminals with the paradigm of finding potential offenders in a timely manner and giving them the help, they need. It turns out that it's even cheaper. The need for the use of artificial intelligence is not diminishing, but the training of the computers, including the composition of the training sets, must change significantly. It is therefore recommended that diverse and independent teams design such a training program based on a scientifically based view of the underlying problem and not leaving it to the police itself.
This article is a condensed version of an earlier article The Safe City (September 2019), which you can read by following the link below, supplemented with data from Chapter 4 Machine learning's social and political foundationsfrom Ben Green's book The smart enough city (2020).
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.
The 15th episode of the Better cities - The contribution of digital technology- series is about collaboration between Dutch cities within the City Deals in the Agenda stad en regio project.
Over the past years, the interest Dutch municipalities in digitization at urban level has increased, partly because of the initiating role of the VNG, G40, the Future City Foundation and forerunners such as Apeldoorn, Helmond, and Zwolle as well. Initially, these were small-scale and isolated projects. In this post, I'll discuss two projects that aim at scaling through collaboration.
A mission-driven approach to public sector projects
In her new book, Mission Economy, Mariana Mazzucato advocates a mission-driven approach to public sector projects at the local level in the way that a man was put on the moon. She refers at large-scale projects with a high degree of complexity, such as the energy transition, the construction of affordable housing, the well-being of the poor part of the population and the conservation of nature.
What is a mission-driven approach? At first, it includes an ambitious vision, followed by breaking down silos within the governmental organization, collaboration within the quadruple helix, and cooperation between higher and lower governments.
A mission-driven approach is appropriate for the major transitions facing the world and digitization as a part of these. The following pertains to a couple of projects that aim at such an approach. The first, Agenda city and region has been running for some time and will be dealt with extensively. The other is initiated by G40 will be discussed briefly.
Agenda stad and City deals
In Agenda city and region, cities, governments at different levels, companies, and organizations, including the VNG, G4, G40 and Platform31, work together to drive innovation in cities. The mission is summarized in SDG 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The most important instrument are City Deals: collaborative ventures around a themes.
The first City Deals started in 2016, there are now 27, about half of which have been completed, but six new ones are about to start. 125 municipalities, 8 provinces, 9 ministries, 10 other government agencies, 5 water boards, more than 100 companies, 30 knowledge institutions and more than 20 other partnerships are involved. There are now 14 partnerships with municipalities outside the Netherlands.
Examples of City Deals are: Working and doing business across borders, cleantech, food on the urban agenda, local resilience against cybercrime, inner city building, the inclusive city, and smart city, that's how you do it. The latter will be discussed below.
Within a City Deal, the parties involved work together in their own way on concrete products, ranging from legislation to policy instruments. The main principles are:
- Formulating an ambition and a strategy.
- Enabling scaling through cooperation between and/or within (urban) regions.
- Realizing collaboration between public and private parties, including the central government
- Innovating by realizing new forms of problem-solving.
- Scaling up, also across national borders.
City Deals also work together and new deals are created from among them, such as ‘Smart customization', a new City Deal that arises from the existing City Deals 'Simple customization' and 'Smart city, that is how you do it'. If I had to imagine how a moonshot works, which I referred to in the introduction of this article, then Agenda city and region could be a good example.
City deal 'A smart city, this is how you do it'
The goal of this City Deal, as we read in the annual report, is to use digitization to tackle the major challenges facing Europe and the Netherlands, such as poverty, social cohesion, and insecurity, and to achieve a society in which everyone can live in freedom. 60 parties are now involved in this City Deal.
The aim is to change at least 12 processes by which regions, cities and towns are designed, organized, managed, and governed, and to make the most of the opportunities offered by digitization. The starting point is the existing practice and aimed at matching city’s demands.
The City Deal 'Smart city, this is how you do it', has 14 working groups. Each of those have chosen which a process to tackle, on the understanding that three municipalities must be prepared to test the results and can be scaled eventually. The City Deal 'A smart city, this is how you do it' has been underway for almost two years now, and the processes to be tackled have crystallized. In a few cases prototypes are ready, most are under development. Below is a brief description of the situation on November 15th, 2021. A lively description of some participants’ experience can be read in ROMmagazine, volume 39, no. 11.
1. Open urban data platform
This project is developing a procedure for tendering an open data platform, which is shareable and scalable, in which privacy and data autonomy are guaranteed and that offers sufficient precautions for cybersecurity. The result will be a step-by-step plan, in which technical questions (what it will looks like), legal questions (who is the owner) and financial questions (funding) are discussed.
2. Cookbook for effective data strategy
This project develops a procedure for the acquisition and storage of data. A 'data cookbook' has been developed that supports the collection, storage, and application of data. It offers an 11-step plan from the formulation of a measurable questions to the interpretation of the measurement results. It accentuates the importance to make explicit the assumptions behind the selection of data. The usability of the steps is tested in practice. A first concept can be found here.
3. Smart initiatives test
The aim of this project is to allow initiators (citizens, companies) to make optimal use of available public data, including those that will be provided by the DSO (digitaal stelsel omgevingswet). The DSO will provide information about which rules apply at a specific location and ultimately also about the quality of the physical living environment itself. Ideally, the ‘smart initiatives test’ will collect and optimize all data needed for a plan. The project group is currently investigating which types of (geo) data users need most ('usercases').
4. Sensor data and privacy
The aim of the project is to develop a tool that allows a municipality to tender for the installation of sensors that exactly match the type of data that will be collected and that consider ethical questions and GDPR rules.
5. Design of the new city
The growing availability of various types of (real-time) data, for example about air quality and noise pollution) has implications for the way in which cities and neighborhoods are developed. The working group is developing a canvas that functions as a ‘translator' of available data. The starting point for its development was a matrix with as inputs the phases of the design process (initiative, design and realization phase) and the area type (urban, Randstad and suburban area). This matrix must indicate which data is needed at what time. The usability will be tested through pilots.
6. Everyone (and everything) a sensor
Citizen measurement initiatives (via telephones and with sensors attached to bicycles, cars, and homes) have a double goal: to increase citizen’s involvement and to improve the insight into living environment of those who execute the measurement. It can also contribute to behavioral change, especially if the measurements match the needs of residents and they are also involved in the interpretation of the results. The working group is striving for a roadmap based on several user cases.
7. Local measurement: comparing projects
Measuring data locally – as was done in the previous project – may be redundant if data from elsewhere is available. In that case, comparability is required with data being searched for and standardization is needed to enable such a comparison. However, standardization can lead to mistrust and remove the incentive for resident groups to get started themselves. Ultimately, the working group opts for the development of a self-service portal, which will be developed together with the Healthy Urban Living Data and Knowledge Hub. Resident groups can then choose for themselves to participate in a standardized project that reads their measurement results directly or for a 'do-it-yourself' solution. A manual will be written for this last option.
Both projects are being further developed in collaboration with Eurocities, a network of 190 cities in 38 countries, under the name CitiMeasure - using citizen measurement to create smart, sustainable and inclusive cities.
8. Smart mobility: Towards a safe and sustainable city
Digitization in traffic has already taken off, for example by intelligent traffic systems (IVRIs), but usually the existing situation, for example private use of cars, is the starting point. The question is how to connect to the pursuit of a better quality of life. To this end, the working group has chosen three themes: better accessibility for emergency services, shared mobility, and city logistics.
A step-by-step plan is being developed for emergency services, with which municipalities can realize the necessary facilities to always priorize emergency vehicles – and possibly other target groups as well.
If everyone were to travel with the most suitable means of transport at that time (varying from walking, (shared) bicycle or scooter, public transport to (shared) car, private car use would decrease considerably and thus improve the quality of city live. Additionally, the working group is developing a 'map' to encourage shared mobility, which provides answers to all related questions.
Developments in city logistics are already taking place via other routes. Therefore, the contribution of the working group in this regard will be limited.
9. A business model for the smart city
New forms of collaboration between governments, the business community, knowledge institutions and citizens can result in new 'values' for areas, but also to the need to allocate costs and benefits in a different way. A new 'business model' may then be necessary. To this end, the working group is investigating the consequences for companies and organizations of entering partnerships for the successful development of products and services. This compared to more traditional client/contractor relationships.
10 Ethical Boards
Within the City Deal 'A smart city, this is how you do it', a rule is that digital instruments to be developed always comply with ethical principles. The implications of such principles are often situational. That is why municipalities are setting up an 'ethical board', which includes experts and residents. To support its work, the committee wants to create a knowledge platform that informs which ethical principles or tools suit best for different digitization projects.
11 Model Acquisition
Local authorities want to regulate the use of digital tools such as sensors in public spaces. Anita Nijboer, who works as a lawyer at Kennedy Van der Laan, who is also a partner of the City Deal 'Smart city, this is how you do it', has drawn up a model regulation for this purpose, which has already been tested in Rotterdam and Helmond. The most important learning effect is that departments within a municipality have fundamentally different view of the way in which these types of questions should be legally framed. In response to this, the working group is examining the question of whether a model regulation is an appropriate answer to obtaining consent for the use of digital tools.
12 Dealing with crowds in the city
Measuring (too large) crowds in parts of the city was a problem long before corona times. The aim is to develop a digital model ('digital twin') of the city - a so-called crowd safety manager - that provides real-time insight into pedestrian flows and concentrations. Such a model must also be able to communicate with people in the city. A prototype of a dashboard, developed by partner company Argaleo, is now being used in 's-Hertogenbosch, Breda and The Hague. This instrument does not use any personal data. It is being further developed at European level with external subsidies.
The instruments to be developed and existing instruments have been brought together via a website, the Toolbox. Other City Deals also develop knowledge, which is far from being systematically documented. That is why the best way to distribute this knowledge is investigated together with the Knowledge Lab for Urbanism.
G40: Smart sustainable urbanization
In March 2021, G40, the umbrella organization of 40 medium-sized municipalities, submitted a project proposal to promote digitalization and thus also create opportunities to the business community.
The project plan rejects the current approach of 'smart urbanization' and the realization of 'main social tasks'. Decentralization, broadening of tasks, narrowing of implementation funds and a fragmented central government policy have led to an impeding control gap and financing deficit in municipalities. Instead, a bundled approach is wanted, led by representatives of municipalities and central government, and the latter is being asked to invest € 1 billion.
When studying this plan, I was surprised by the absence of any reference to the activities of Agenda city and regioand the City Deals. Instead, one wonders whether Agenda city and region is the subject of criticism of the fragmented approach and G40 wants to get rid of it.
The strength of Agenda city and region is the cross connections between urban projects of all kinds, the involvement of citizens and intermunicipal cooperation. This is something to cherish.
In my opinion, G40 would be better off by ushering in a new phase of Agenda city and region, characterized by economies of scale and acceleration of the findings so far. The aims of this new phase could be consolidation of the cohesion between the themes of the individual City Deals within the framework of the major transitions facing the Netherlands. The theme of digitization thrives best in this context. After all, the ultimate value of digitization lies in the contribution to the energy transition, the reduction of traffic nuisance and the growth of a circular economy, to name a few examples. However, that requires a different plan.
In the meantime, I hope that in the foreseeable future we will be able to see the results of the working groups of the City Deal 'Smart city, this is how you do it', together with those of the other 'Deals'.
Follow the link below to find one of the previous episodes or see which episodes are next, and this one for the Dutch version.
YIMBY Arnhem! is a bottom-up movement aiming at small scale food growing in the city of Arnhem (NL). The 10 ten years of green YIMBY Arnhem! experience shows the fun and cooperation of growing food in the city. The YIMBY experience also shows that in time small initiatives grow to major results in empowering green people in the city. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
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