2009 was the beginning of the smart city hype. At that time it was all very driven by technology, but that changed. Technology isn’t the driving motor anymore. It has become more about cooperation between citizens, local governments and the private sector how to make the city more sustainable. A combination of bottom-up and top down as Amsterdam does.
The main challenge is to get to the right parties to cooperate. That is the bottleneck for a lot of cities. The private sector should be more active and be much more aware of the opportunities. But it’s not easy to convince them. The business sector is used to be in control. This kind of projects needs cooperation, patience and perseverance. Cities have to persuade the private partners – with serious market research, facts and figures – how these projects can be profitable. They have to facilitate this progress. But people are waking up. The private sector – energy companies, big banks – starting to realize that it’s smart to invest in sustainable projects.
It’s important that also people in their own communities start to talk about it. Electric cars and solar panels have to become a topic at birthday parties. Because that’s works. When a sport club explains their members why they are taking energy-saving measures and involves their members the effect is much bigger than when the local government ‘orders’ citizens to do something.’’
I am very charmed by energy solutions and mobility. Solutions for inner city distribution, which helps to get big trucks out of the city center and car sharing – with electric cars. This will be much more widespread in the future. People will only use a car when it is really necessary.