Challenging the Smart City

Written by Manon den Dunnen


At the international Smart City Event the so called triple helix (university-industry-government relationships) meets annually to exchange the latest insights and attends workshops and master classes to gain additional knowledge. The high smart city expectations are providing a lot of jobs and it is good business for consultants and tech companies. After a year of following the trends, for me (as a citizen) it still felt like a hype around tech and big data. Like I wrote before, it wasn’t about my needs and mostly supply driven.

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Room for critical thinking

This was the second year that I attended the event as a citizen and to my relieve there was more room for critical thinking, like the notion that smart applications can have negative side effects on sustainability. Smart parking for example could lead to more traffic as it becomes easier to take the car.
The Mayor of Amsterdam pleaded for more reflection on the citizen’s need (as opposed to municipality control) and speakers like innovator Daan Roosegaarde and professor van Timmeren emphasized the importance of playfulness and responsiveness in design, as to allow for individual differences.

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Concrete examples and projects

The event this year was also marked by progress, intentions were translated into agreements like between the city of Amstelveen and Huawei who will work together to enable elderly people to stay longer at home. Also concrete projects were shown, for example the event cloud from KPN and the city of the Hague in which relevant information from a variety of (temporary)sensors is shared between the event organization, the crowd and professionals like police and fire department. Most impressive was visiting the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center: this testing ground for smart applications gave useful insights into the real life application of the internet of things. Think about football players wearing sensors to analyze every movement, the turf indicating itself that it needs water or parking sensors that inform you about a free spot or where you left your car.
The Internet of Things, an important aspect of smart cities, was also made more tangible in a workshop where you could build your own “If this then that” chain with sensors. Talking about playfulness, this was a big success!!

Hackathon

For the first time an Hackathon was organized alongside the event; The Appsterdam Smart City Challenge. Hackers were provided with live datasets and latest technology to come up with solutions for smart energy, smart mobility and the Amsterdam ArenA Stadium. Hackathons do not always lead to innovative solutions. More than often the ideas generated are not new or not feasible given, for example, legislation. That is the flipside of very creative but inexperienced minds. This time however, some very nice ideas popped up and the winner was my own favorite, Arena Q, a queuing App that allows you to virtually stand in line for the bathroom or food & beverages!

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Privacy concerns

It seems that the hype is almost over and smart city thinking is entering the stage of maturity. Critical questions are addressed and experiences shared. The only question that everyone still seems to be dodging is privacy. It will be a challenge for the Smart City Event to integrate this into the program next year. Next to playfulness and responsiveness it is one of the conditions to get citizens involved.


 

Smart City Event

smart-city-event-logo_zonderjaartal1 During this event 500+ smart city professionals from over 30 countries share their vision and knowledge with each other. The event contains keynote speeches, interactive round table sessions, inspiring labs, excursions, dinners, breakfast meetings and lots of networking opportunities the Smart City Event is the place to be. Curious? View the program!

 

 

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