Current innovations that Amsterdam Smart City partners are working on

This September, the 20 partners of Amsterdam Smart City came together to present the progress of innovation projects, ask for input, share dilemmas and involve other partners in their initiatives. Following the thought that nobody wants to live in a smart city but in a nice, friendly, cosy city we work on challenges in which people play a central role. These gatherings are called Demo days and occur every 8-10 weeks. Get a quick overview of the topics and projects about to happen in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and let us know if you want to be involved!

Taskforce Circular Economy

The circular economy is a concept not understood by a lot of people, public and professionals. To make the circular economy better known and more accessible, Dimitri Bak of the City of Amsterdam, together with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Metabolic, the province of North-Holland and the Amsterdam Economic Board set up a ‘taskforce for the Circular Economy.’ They all communicated about the circular economy, but seperately. The new strategy is to strengthen each other with communications and show companies the new business opportunities of the circular economy. This joint effort should accelerate the region’s economy and stimulate circular behaviour. Soon you will find articles, webinars, podcasts, showcases and more. Which circular business in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area cannot be missed? Let us know!


An interesting circular product is Grassbloxxx. Joost de Waard from KplusV converts roadside grass into fibers for biobased building materials, such as the insulation material for housing. Their French/Swiss partner Gramitherm has similar (or better) properties for heat and sound insulation and moisture absorption than the materials used nowadays. There are agreements on delivering the grass with, among others, Rijkswaterstaat and the province of North-Holland and the production is planned in the Port of Amsterdam. Grassbloxxx is still looking for more launching customers of the building material.

Innovation Agenda Amsterdam Climateneutral

Last year the City of Amsterdam and AMS Institute came to the conclusion that we need to gain more insights into current and necessary innovations in the field of energy. The Innovation Agenda Amsterdam was born. The agenda focuses on the most important uncertainties to achieve the CO2 reduction of 55%. Now, the agenda is there, with ten important tasks. The partners are ready for the next step: operationalizing it. Where to start and with whom?

On the demoday, AMS Institute and the City of Amsterdam showed other partners the innovation questions and asked for input. The questions vary from: where to store energy in the city? How to make datacenters more sustainable? Where are insulation measures in housing most needed? Conclusions were that there is not one best project or best party; various approaches are required. And these questions cannot be solved on an Amsterdam scale, we have to involve the region.

Deep Retrofit

Amsterdam and EIT Climate KIC are looking for an integrated approach to make our homes fully sustainable. The aim is not only to lower the total energy costs, but above all increasing the social benefits: sustainability, liveability and affordability. The questions the City and EIT Climate KIC have:

  • How do we reason from the perspective of the citizen and not from the project logic of the municipality?
  • How do we speed up the renovation process and make it circular and scalable?
  • What is the role of the municipality in the large-scale renovating homes?

One of the ideas was building a trial home so that people can experience a preserved home. How about linking this trial house to a competition? Then it is not only functionally deployable, but it will reach a large group of people. The importance of peer-to-peer communication was also mentioned: if your neighbour has a nice insulated house, you don’t want to be in a cold one, right? Housing associations own around 41% of the total Amsterdam housing stock. Can they exert more power and speed up the renovation process? Is this something we can also use to make homes fully sustainable?

Project Scale-up

Project Scale-up is a cooperation between various authorities (municipality of Amsterdam and provinces of Flevoland and Noord-Holland) and knowledge partners (AMS, Floriade and Johan Cruijff ArenA) that want to buy innovative market solutions. These parties look for companies with one of the core competencies data aggregation, predicting or influencing behavior. After selection, the knowledge institutions will work with these parties, during which the products can be tested by the interested governments. This should ultimately lead to an end product that governments want to buy.

Verali von Meijenfeldt van Arcadis talked about a start-up from the United Kingdom that deals with automatic analyzing camera information: Their technology and algorithms are already used to identify and analyze traffic, but these can also be used for flows in public space. During covid-19 you can make heatmaps and dashboards to see to what extent visitors can keep a distance from each other. Then you can identify where interventions are needed. The privacy of the filmed persons is of course guaranteed. Verali looks for parties that are interested to test this technique. Possibilities our partners thought of were the Living Lab on the Marineterrein, the Johan Cruijff ArenA and the City’s Metro and Tram.

Smarter Procurement

Joris de Leeuw from the City is looking for an accessible way for (relatively) inexperienced and small innovative start-ups and SMEs to become aware of the tenders from governments. Therefore, a digital purchasing platform has been developed to bring the demand and supply of innovative, smaller companies together. It should be a kind of Tendernet lite, where young and small companies get an easy overview of funding, tenders, co-creations and test locations available to them.

On the demoday, the partners present saw great value in such a platform, however with some preconditions. For example, there must be no obstructive legislation surrounding this way of purchasing and this platform should become “the talk of the town”. Because of the buzz, governments will be more inclined to publish their request and companies to offer their services.

Mobility during Covid-19

The longer the Covid-19 crisis takes, the more difficult we find it to stay a meter and a half away from each other. And although many of us already notice this in their everyday life, there are few places where this issue so clear as it is at the Johan Cruijff ArenA. In september, 15,000 visitors were allowed in the stadium. After the game they all have to go home at the same time. How can the largest football stadium in the Netherlands organize a Covid-19 proof departure of 15,000 people?

Maurits van Hövell is looking for creative, out of the box ideas. The experts in the session came with multiple ideas. From offering a beer in the third half, to making the sitting down a game ( “who can sit still the longest?”), the most creative ideas to get visitors to stay in their seats were discussed. People thought about the usage of technology to inform every visitor what time he has to leave to be exactly on time for the train, about combinations of color areas on the ground and quiet music on the air. On the big screens in the stadium you could show images of the current traffic at the station. Hopefully the Dutch football stays corona proof!

Master Applied AI

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is developing a master Applied AI. Katrien de Witte and Pascal Wiggers are looking for the expertise, qualities and skills that the graduate students should develop in order to get a job easily. The AUAS formulated five skills already:

  • AI techniques
  • Design thinking
  • Ethical awareness and value-driven design
  • Interprofessional working
  • Learning capacity

All the partners confirmed the high demand for this type of student. The conversation that followed emphasized how important the practice-oriented view of students is. The easier it is for students to work within an organization immediately, the more interesting this is for organizations. It is precisely the practice-oriented view that is the distinctive character of the future AAI students. Also the ability of the soft skills of students was touched upon: how to make the translation between the organizations needs and the technical aspects. Nice follow-up steps were taken: Dell, Deloitte and City of Amsterdam are looking for this type of students and would like to help shaping the Master AAI.

New ideas, new initiatives and projects, covid-19 doesn’t stop us from being creative and willing to make better streets, neighbourhoods and cities. Amsterdam Smart City strives for liveable cities in which technology might play a role.  But technology is never a goal, it a means to achieve something. Tech is giving direction and determining our behaviour, therefore our underlying values are of great importance. Just as cooperation! Did you read about an interesting initiative and would you like to know more? Let us know here. We will be back in December! 

20 October 2020

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