Amsterdam Smart City: “The idea of the Smart City will bring us to a new economy”
The Smart City is the current talk of the town in urban planning and city branding. All over the world, cities are trying to embrace this new approach where sharing of data and information is used to create sustainable growth. In this interview, Ger Baron and Joost Brinkman, two of the leading profiles in the Amsterdam Smart City project, discuss the possibilities with Smart Cities, and give advice to other cities in the same position.
What is Amsterdam Smart City?
Amsterdam Smart City is, according to Joost Brinkman, mainly about cooperation; about city, citizens and companies working together to reduce CO2-emissions. The Amsterdam Smart City project started with a small organization and the goal to start new Public Private Partnerships, but has quickly grown in cooperation with a multitude of partners.
Amsterdam Smart City´s main tool is an information platform, where small and medium sized entrepreneurs can initiate innovative solutions and test them on a larger scale. The main focus of the project, according to Ger Baron, is making better use of the existing technology, not necessarily creating new.
As an example on where the Smart City can make a difference, Ger Baron brings up the energy market in the Netherlands. Here, 90% of the market was owned by four energy companies, and there where therefore was no incentive from the companies' side to make changes. A platform with information creates opportunities for the city, as well as citizens and companies, to make more informed choices when investing in the city.
What makes a Smart City different from a Sustainable City?
In answering this question, Joost Brinkman makes it clear that the basis of the Smart City is sustainable thinking. According to Brinkman, the Smart part is the intelligence, how you collect your data and how you choose to work together to reach your goals. One of the basic thoughts behind the Smart City is that there is a consumer force that, if enough good products are in place and enough information available, will demand better products.
"We are now in a phase beyond thinking about sustainability" -Ger Baron
Ger Baron means that sustainability now is widely accepted as an essential basis, and that we now have to focus on finding the innovations and the ideas that need to be enabled in order to change our cities.
What types of challenges can Smart City thinking solve?
Joost Brinkman argues that a Smart city might not be solving challenges, but accelerating innovations and creating possibilities. As an example, Brinkman tells us about a person who had an invention to make swimming pools less energy demanding, but had gotten stuck in bureaucracy. Amsterdam Smart City made the process easier by providing a possibility to test the product, and show a broader public that it worked.
On a more abstract level, Ger Baron means that the project is inspired by Jeremy Rifkin, and his thoughts on a third industrial revolution. Baron argues that projects such as that of Amsterdam Smart City could help changing structures through communication and technology.
Ger Baron poses the financial sector as an example of a market where Smart City thinking could bring change; that we now have the technology to make more informed choices about where our money is located and what we are financing. He sees opportunities for changes like this in all economic systems, based on the idea that people want a broader insight.
Based on your experience; what can other cities learn from Amsterdam Smart City?
Joost Brinkman believes cities can truly learn from the approach in the project: To work more from a platform perspective than a top-down system. Ger Baron elaborates on this, and remarks that there are many Smart City programs throughout the world that do not focus enough on collaboration. He points out that is it crucial to think about your city as an ecosystem instead of separate parts; to make use of your intelligence by being inclusive.
Joost Brinkman adds honestly that there are a lot of examples of
failures in the Amsterdam Smart City project that other cities can
learn from as well. Ger Baron believes that it is important to
embrace the fact that you are going to make mistakes, and adds that
the mistakes made in the Amsterdam Smart City Project has also been
the best lessons learned. Both Baron and Brinkman mean that if you
are not willing to accept the risk of making mistakes, you will
never change; and never get started.
About Amsterdam Smart City
Amsterdam Smart City is an ambitious Smart City project in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Smart City project started in 2009, with a small organization and the goal to start new Public Private Partnerships, but has quickly grown in cooperation with a multitude of partners.
Amsterdam Smart City´s main tool is an information platform, where small and medium sized entrepreneurs can initiate innovative solutions and test them on a larger scale. The main focus of the project is to make better use of the technology in the city to create green growth.
Amsterdam Smart City Experts:
Ger Baron is the Cluster Manager ICT at Amsterdam Innovation Motor. Baron started working for the Amsterdam Innovation Motor in 2007 as a project manager, and has been responsible for the creation of several projects and public-private partnerships. In 2009, Amsterdam Innovation Motor was a co-creator of Amsterdam Smart City, and Ger Baron is now one of the leading individuals in projects associated with the growth of Amsterdam Smart City.
Joost Brinkmanis Senior Manager at Accenture. Brinkman was responsible for the Amsterdam Smart City program since 2009 to 2011. He has been a part of shaping the project from early on. Along with the ASC-team, he has been involved in the creation and management of the many projects, as well as a frequent expert speaker in Smart City conferences around the globe.
Last updated Wednesday, October 03, 2012