Need expert and/or literature on smart city architecture Amsterdam

My name is Adrian Tavaszi , I am founder of the citizen initiative for democratic smart city in Heidelberg, Germany ( We are looking for policies and guidelines to establish a democratic process of digital transformation. I would like to get in contact with a team member or expert from Amsterdam with some insight into the the basic opearting principles of Amsterdam smart city, the process of establishing the platform and what makes it democratic!


Adrian Tavaszi's picture
Adrian Tavaszi

Dear Herman,
thank you very much for your lengthy comment and for the links to further articles you shared. I have the impression that we have to come up with a new definition of "democracy" in the context of digital society, and we have to outline a new role for government institutions in the process. Most German cities are still in phase 1, focussing only on technological solutions.
We are going to discuss these ideas and texts in our group in Heidelberg and come back to the conversation with you with more specific questions!

Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

dear Adrian,

Your question is not easy to answer. I will give you a few cues and a couple of references to some articles that I have written about smart cities. In these articles every now and then I make a difference between smart city 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 (see for instance:

The smart city types 2.0 and 3.0 are morst relevant in relation to your questions.

In smart city 2.0 smart city technology is explicitly related to the solution of urban problems with the consent of democratic institutions, like a city council. This is important because in the narrative of big technology companies technology and urban problems have always been connected in an ideological way; see:

The explicit connection with political institutions and political parties is just one way of framing democratic processes. Historically in a city like Amsterdam, citizens always took some distance from established politics, power and parties. Often Amsterdam has been called a 'free state' in order to accentuate the rights and power of citizens. If you could visit the Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age in the Amsterdam Hermitage, you would experience that these portraits do not picture political elites in the first place, but instead the citizens who have laid the foundation for the city as it is now. Within the context of those days, citizens were the class of merchants and artisans. Democracy in those days differed from what is pretended nowadays!

Smart city 3.0 is connected with the empowerment of citizens and it has has stayed a main characteristic of Amsterdam until today. Just as in the golden age, the question to be answered is who are those citizens. If you try to answer this question from some distance s (probably through the eyes of a non-Amsterdam native, like me), than the most powerful contemporary citizens are (young) start-ups, entrepreneurs, political activists and intellectuals in the first place. It is this group of 'influencers' who are the active members of the the Amsterdam Smart City-community. At the same time the 'creed' of putting 'ordinary citizens' in the center is often heard. A neighbourhood-oriented approach is an internationally recognised starting point to reach this goal (see: However, in my view Amsterdam has a long way to go towards this end. A city like Barcelona is a few steps beyond.

I also ask your attention for the question whether from a 'democratic angle' becoming a smart city is a smart objective after al. In the first place because technology is not the first priority of most citizens. A broader umbrella like 'inclusive city' might be more appropriate (see:

The most important lesson from Amsterdam is that becoming 'smart' or 'inclusive' has nothing to do with 'operating principles' ( the jargon of Smart city 1.0 ). The growth of any city is a chaotic process that can best be understood from a complexity viewpoint. In practice, I advise to use multiple angels, realising that some of them might be effective and others not. These angels are: mobilising 'influencers', make a short agenda ('charter') and ask all political parties, the city government and other institutions to adopt it, try to establish a community-platform approach in as many neighbourhoods as possible (see the before mentioned example from London), collaborate with universities, and consider becoming a smart city (or whatever you are calling it) as a long journey with ever changing objectives, none of them will be accomplished fully.

Needless to say that I welcome any further exchange of thoughts.

Nancy Zikken's picture
Nancy Zikken

Hi Adrian, I can help with you about the basic operating principles of Amsterdam smart city and the process of establishing the platform. @hermanvandenbosch2 do you have any scientific insights about Amsterdam as a democratic city?

Adrian Tavaszi's picture
Adrian Tavaszi

Hi Nancy,
not yet, unfortunately! Do you have an idea what I could do?

Nancy Zikken's picture
Nancy Zikken

Hi Adrian, thank you for your question! Are you in touch with someone from Amsterdam already?

Lotte Duursma's picture
Lotte Duursma

@gijswaagorg @amyrook @tessadegeus can you share some insights on the democratic process of digital transformation?