Are there other organisations like SmartCity for low tech, non digital solutions

I love the idea of SmartCities. However, there are many solutions that are low tech, non digital that can also play a large role and in many cases are more easily spread and embraced by a wider market.
Are there any organisations that are like SmartCities but also support low tech solutions?

Natural-media is a sustainable form of outdoor advertising. Natural-media are a portfolio of techniques that use water, sand, plants, clay, chalk and milk paint to produce outdoor communication messages. Techniques that are not protected by IP, easy to master within 30 minutes and require low skills. They have a low impact on the environment and a high impact on the audience.

The outdoor media industry consumed over 350,000,000 square meters of paper in the EU last year. This is a one meter wide piece of paper that circles our planet 3.9 times each year. Most of it is burned as it can not be recycled. This figure does not include plastic films or vinyl used by the industry.

Outdoor media is now moving towards digital solutions - large tv screens. However, if for example, the Abris and Mupis in Amsterdam are replaced by these large tv screens, they will consume as much electricity as 8000 average Dutch homes. It is a digital solution with many benefits but it has many downsides.

Natural-media is very low tech and does not fit well with SmartCity. That's okay. So the question is where does it fit? Finding platforms that support low tech and no tech solutions is proving to be difficult in the age of digital everything.

If you have any ideas, know of any platforms or organisations that include low tech solutions, I would be highly appreciative if you could share them with me.


adrian bolton's picture
adrian bolton

Good Afternoon Gentlemen,
I have been reading your correspondence and would like if possible to pick up on some of your comments around Billboards and Outdoor Advertisement operating assets. I am currently working with a company here in Ireland called Solar AdTek ( and I am going to suggest you review this company as they have designed an LED Lighting system which can save up to 77% of energy costs based upon the existing fluorescent technologies which are currently being used in most of our outdoor lighting systems. The Company have also recently secured a green energy fund which permits large outdoor advertising companies / public organisations to switch-out old systems with their new LED Lighting under an annual service charge contract, so no need for large CAPEX approval ? So if either of your guys are associated with organisations dealing with Outdoor advertising assets, please direct them to Solar AdTek as I do believe this SME Start-up business has developed some good greener operating systems which will return significant energy cost benefits.

Gaelan Goodfellow's picture
Gaelan Goodfellow

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Jim Bowes's picture
Jim Bowes

Beste Maaike,

Have they done this or are they looking into doing this? It is unclear to me if this project has moved forwarded? Am I missing the story somewhere?

I will structure my project/ and questions better in the near future. I was just showing what kind of questions I have. I would love to be able to contact someone who is involved in this Pampus project to see if I can learn from it. Otherwise I will need to downgrade my zero emissions goal to few emissions but changing the power source from electricity to natural gas. This is an option but obviously not the ideal option for several reasons, noise pollution being one. Low emissions is still emissions.
Small power washers cannot be powered by regular deep cycle batteries according to Karcher. Electric car batteries are very powerful (maybe the reason they can not be repurposed due to safety concerns)
In any case, is is why I need to find a very knowledgeable person when it comes to energy storage.

Thanks for engaging with me! Much, very much appreciated!

Maaike Osieck's picture
Maaike Osieck

Great to hear Jim!
Regarding your first question: in the project "self sufficient Pampus" they reused "old" batteries from cars for energy storage.
Considering the other questions. maybe it's more useful to post these as separate requests on the site. This way your request is more concrete and we can see how we can connect you to other members of the community.

Jim Bowes's picture
Jim Bowes

Beste Maaike,
The product I posted is just part of a much larger business concept. It is one of the techniques that will be used. It is also a stand alone product for the B2B and B2C markets.
There are many questions I would like to ask the community. Here are a few:

  1. I am developing a low emission cargo bike production unit that will be used to execute natural-media campaigns for the city of Amsterdam. I would like to use repurposed electrical car batteries to power not only the cargo bike but also the equipment. I have little to no experience or knowledge with electricity and I have heard that in the Netherlands it is illegal to repurpose electric car batteries, is this true? Do you have electrical experience and knowledge you could share with me?
  2. I am developing a new business model with the goal of creating jobs- think business on a bike. However, I am struggling with finding the best model to scale the business. Does anyone have experience with different scaling models? Cooperations, franchises, licensing.
  3. My last company GreenGraffiti went bankrupt leaving me with a personal debt which appears to exclude me from being able to tap into the many funds Amsterdam has made available for initiatives such as this. Are there impact investors that I could pitch to and how would I locate them? Looking for seed capital of around 11k.
  4. I would like to build a team of dedicated, motivated like minded people for this venture who would share in the success. However, this is boot strapping time. I do not have any funds to offer a paying job. I know there are talented people out there who want to be entrepreneurs but may not have found their passion or an idea that excites them. Would you be interested in joining me on this adventure?

The business concept is quite simple and given the need for cities to engage with and communicate with local communities using forms of communication that are sustainable and in line with their own sustainable ambitions (circular economy ambitions in the future), natural-media are the perfect solution. Cities spend substantial amounts on their own communications. It is only a fraction of the amount spent on outdoor advertising but it is enough to support a thriving business.

Please note: this is a social enterprise that mission is to create low skilled, well paying jobs not to make the partners stinking rich. Comfortable, absolutely but in the spirit of a better world not fame and fortune. It takes a special kind of person to want to invest their time and energy in a company that is not profit driven. Profits with principles. I like money as much as the next guy but I am not driven by money alone.

Maaike, given that you think that low tech does fit this community, I will work on putting together a proper proposal. Just wanted you to see that my aim is to use the network as a way to concrete a new business. One that is focused on solving many of the issues SmartCity aims to solve.


Maaike Osieck's picture
Maaike Osieck

thanks for your answer Jim! Low tech solutions are very important in Smart City development. So we are very happy with your contribution by posting this request and the product. is there a specific question you would like to ask the community?
kind regards, Maaike

Jim Bowes's picture
Jim Bowes

Beste Maaike,
This platform seems to be targeted to high tech initiatives which is great as high tech has a lot to offer. However, there are also many low tech initiatives such as natural media that also have a lot to offer.
Natural-media has recently been banned in Amsterdam for commercial purposes. The good news is that Amsterdam will allow natural-media for its own communication purposes.
This presents a great opportunity to develop a new and better business model that will meet the needs of cities who want to produce public awareness and informational campaigns in a way that meets their own sustainable ambitions. To do this I need to put together a team of dedicated and driven people.
Smart Cities is a large network of people and companies working towards a greater good. It appears to be focused on high tech solutions - again a great thing. I am looking for the same type of platform/community that is geared towards more low tech solutions.
Yes, we did work together on your Climate street project. GreenGraffiti did a lot of work with and for Amsterdam. In fact 20% of all our business came from governments! Amsterdam even calls this type of media "green graffiti!
Sadly, GreenGraffiti shut its doors last summer. We could not be the responsible business we set out to be doing something that was not allowed or permitted by the very city that inspired it in the first place .
The whole point of the business was to be an MVO+++ company that was offering eco-friendly alternatives to a very unsustainable posters and billboards.
I am still passionate about natural-media and continue to look for new opportunities and am looking to work with like minded people.
I am a big believer in co-creation and something like this would benefit from a young dedicated team who are looking for a higher purpose. You could help me with that!

Maaike Osieck's picture
Maaike Osieck

Hi Jim, Great initiative! I think we worked together in the past with Green Graffiti on our Climate street project. But just to be sure, are you looking for events where your low tech solution can be used for promotion or are you looking for contacts at outdoor media companies?