Latest developments in the Amsterdam Smart City program

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Last December, the 20 partners of Amsterdam Smart City came together to present the progress of innovation projects, ask for input, share dilemmas and involve other partners in their initiatives.

Following the thought that nobody wants to live in a smart city but in a nice, friendly, cosy city we work on challenges in which people play a central role. These gatherings are called Demo days and occur every 8-10 weeks. Get a quick overview of the topics and projects about to happen in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and let us know if you want to be involved!

ELSA Lab: AI, Media & Democracy

Pascal Wiggers, senior lecturer Responsible Artificial Intelligence at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, is working on an Ethical Legal Societal Aspects Lab to investigate and shape the impact of AI on our society. The University of Applied Sciences is doing this in co-creation together with residents, companies, knowledge institutions and governments. Partners want to understand how AI-driven applications in the media and public space
influence democracy. They also want to experiment with new applications of AI in the media and in the democratic process and draft new ethical and legal guidelines. Pascal is looking for parties that want to join the consortium. Various Amsterdam Smart City partners are interested to join. You too?

Object Detection Kit

Keeping the city streets clean is a major challenge. Maarten Sukel from the City of Amsterdam developed an image recognition system that shows streets in real time maps. For example, garbage bags and other unwanted objects in
the street scene are recognized. The system is based on machine learning and ultimately, we can clean Amsterdam more efficiently and sustainably. The system is continuously improved and tested. In the future it might be used for the recognition of water puddles in the streets, track missing pets, link with a module that shows the value of objects on the streets and more.

Seenons

Seenons believes in a future with 0% residual waste as a standard. Seenons makes it easy to separate waste and then pick it up separately and sustainably. Citizens and companies offer their separate flows via an app, the Seenons platform proposes the optimal route with the best transport options and delivers the residual flows to processors who make new products of them. Seenons also prevents contamination of flows through clear separation and fine-meshed collection. Environmental friendly transport is used, such as cargo bikes.

Mapping of material flows

Maintaining the value of the raw materials was a central topic at this Demoday. Martijn Kamps from Metabolic started with a presentation about recycling of materials. Based on cases in Rotterdam and Philadelphia he showed that there is a lot of construction and demolition waste that is still dumped or burned. This is issue is still not solved because there is too little data available about these materials. According to Metabolic, urban mining can help. A lot information about volumes of waste is available, but there is no business case yet. You can see where flows come from, identify them, decide where you store materials in the meantime and then, where you want to reuse them. The PUMA project was one of the first projects in this field and current projects are all a sequel to PUMA.

Arnout Sabbe from Geofluxus continued. Geofluxus is a startup which originates from REPAIR, a project with Metabolic and AMS Institute, among others. Geofluxus is working on a reclassification model for raw materials. Currently, there are many databases in which raw materials are registered. Geofluxus brings these together as a combination of data sources from industrial waste. In the Geofluxus monitor you can see how p.e. wood from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area eventually spreads all over the world. It shows the impact on the road network and CO2 emissions for certain waste streams elsewhere. Geofluxus is developing this monitor for the City of Amsterdam and expects to have it ready by the end of next year, although the municipality is dependent on the availability of data. New partnerships are therefore necessary. But a first success is already visible: through the monitor is clear that 70% of the waste in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is caused is used by only 7% of companies. A result worth continuing this work and something to hold on to!

Collaboration between governments and innovative companies

In order to innovate we have to work together; governments and innovative companies. That is not always easy. Various organizational cultures and interests collide. Everyone is in their own system and has its own pace. We had an open and honest discussion on this based on two cases. One of the companies started with some positive feedback: the region is at the forefront of circularity, there is a lot of attention and ambition. But collaborating is different. The company experiences a lot of reluctance, especially from governments. There is little willingness to take
responsibility and work outside existing frameworks. In addition, there is an enormous fragmentation of tasks and a fear of explicitly saying yes or no. For the other company this story is recognizable. They experience a lot of enthusiasm about their company, but still it takes a huge amount of time to involve different departments and decision making is very slow. They noted it is time to get out of the pilot sphere and important to mention business models early on.

There was a lot of understanding and recognition from the government side. They recognized the stories about the silos and indicated that it takes a lot of people and time to make decisions. Governments are less likely to think outside the box and both parties must invest in building trust. The advice that came out for both parties: embrace complexity, be persistent, be open to each other, be clear about expectations, go where the energy flows. And as a positive conclusion: once collaboration is there, governments are nice, loyal and reliable partners.

CleanMobileEnergy (CME)

Cenex The Netherlands is in the middle of the development of an intelligent Energy Management System (iEMS), based on three urban pilots in Nottingham (UK), Arnhem (NL) and Schwabisch Gmund (DE). The goal is to develop a transnational and generic iEMS. In these cities, the pilot elements are currently being put out to tender and connected to the iEMS. Cenex would like to know which mobility and energy initiatives could be suitable for integrating in this iEMS.

Sharing Energy in Almere Haven

The City of Almere joined Amsterdam Smart City as a partner and has many great initiatives to share with the network. In 2020 Almere started EARN-E to reduce the use of electricity and gas in people's homes. Next year, Wijkie will be launched: this combines the energy transition with social needs in a neighbourhood. The core is the sharing of energy with your neighbours in your neighbourhood. In order to set up Wijkie successfully, it is important to enter into dialogue with residents.

The Energy Transition Explained

The energy transition is "hot". Much has been reported in the media, but the reporting is not always easy to understand and sometimes even confusing. Knowledge is needed to critically follow the news about the energy transition. That is why Sanne de Boer wrote the book ‘De energietransitie uitgelegd’. The book provides all the basic knowledge needed to follow news and form informed opinions in discussions. Sanne is looking for suggestions for where to market her book to be able to transfer this knowledge.

Curtailment for solar panels

As an energy platform, Vandebron is an innovative player in the field of sustainable energy. They took us along in the story of solar panel curtailment: remotely on and off switching of energy. A well-known phenomenon in the energy world is that the electricity demand is reasonably stable, but due to the volatility of renewable energy there are significant peaks in the electricity supply every year. The result is that the energy grid becomes full due to the surplus of electricity. This creates problems for the grid operator, who is then forced to hand out a fine. In this case, this means a possible fine for Vandebron, who then has to pass it on again to the producer. Nobody is happy about that.

Curtailment could be a solution. Curtailment makes sure that a surplus can be avoided, when solar panels are switched off in time. The central question is: "How to do this effectively?" It is clear that some degree of curtailment is inevitable, but it is also important to determine whether the energy surplus can be reduced in another way. There is still a world to be won with out-of-the-box thinkers on board.

Energy from braking power

The engine of a train or tram is comparable to the dynamo of a bicycle. In addition to powering the train, the motor is also able to generate energy. This happens, for example, during braking. How can we return the energy that is generated to the grid? And what are the options to apply this in neighbourhood hubs? Arcadis told us that energy generated with the brake of a train, can provide an average household with energy for 2.5 weeks.

This offers a lot of opportunities. Braking energy can be deployed immediately in your own system, it can be stored and then deployed, it can be made available to other parties via neighbourhood hubs. And there is more. Suggestions at that popped up at the demoday: returning energy to grid operators, making a link with buses, ferries and taxis, supplying shops at the station, neighbourhood batteries. To get a step further, possible obstacles have to be overcome as well of course. Experts will work on technological challenges and the saving of a lot of energy in a short time among others. In January, Arcadis, the City of Amsterdam, AMS Institute and Alliander will continue working on this topic. Interested? Then contact us.


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