I spent last week with my good friend and colleague Frans-Anton Vermast, the strategic advisor on connected communities of Amsterdam Smart City (ASC), visiting state government and city councils in Victoria and NSW. He also addressed the Smart Grid Australia Summit in Melbourne.
Globally there is a political shift going on that sees cities becoming far more prominent in relation to policy-making issues.
First of all, their sizes are increasing. Some cities are now as big as a province or a state, or even as big as a country.
But perhaps even more importantly, with less money available at federal and state government level, more and more services will need to be addressed by local councils. Also, with increased political ineptness at the higher levels, councils are more closely aligned with the citizens and with their needs and interests.
On top of that, a better educated and connected community is becoming more involved and more vocal on issues such as transport, healthcare, education, sustainability and the environment.
Councils are increasingly taking a visionary role here, linked to facilitating its citizens and businesses, working with them on many of those issues, creating a more sharing economy and society, assisted by apps and the internet. Key to this is the ability of the local council to provide an open government and open data environment to their community. A smart council is a prerequisite for a smart city.
A key message from Amsterdam was the need for council vision and leadership, linked to a hands-off approach once projects have evolved from that. Amsterdam established the Amsterdam Smart City Platform, and its seven employees function as facilitators and matchmakers, as well as the direct liaison with local government to ensure that red tape is limited and obstacles are removed. Key also is not to develop a road map but to look instead at the low-hanging fruits that are being identified, developed and investigated in their Living-Labs.
Engagement with the people is critical and for that purpose they have extended their PPP concept to PPPP (Public Private People Partnership. Every month ASC selects the Amsterdam App of the Month – it gets lots of media attention and an award from the mayor. Fascinating apps are being added to the list all the time.
Via the ‘Apps for Amsterdam’ competition (an initiative to make available as much city data as possible that leads to social and economic innovation) app developers are invited to send in applications that use at least one available source of information of the (local) government. The monthly winner receives an award from the Lord Mayor. This receives lots of media attention and new apps are added to the list all the time.
The smartest city will be the city with the best apps (this was one of the points we mentioned after our visit to Barcelona).
Frans-Anton also freely shared the various mistakes that ASC has made. Since its inception, seven years ago now, valuable lessons were learned from that by the councils he visited.
Key projects within Smart City Amsterdam include:
- High-speed broadband (FttH)
- City-zen – Largest Smart Lab in Europe – in the City-zen project several innovative solutions are demonstrated in the field of smart grid, heat networks and sustainable housing
- Smart Electric Energy Boat
- E-Harbours – ReloadIT
- Ship to grid
- Flexible street lighting
Amsterdam Smart City was initiated back in 2008 by the Amsterdam Economic Board, telco KPN and electricity operator Liander.
KPN, the Dutch Telecom incumbent, commented: The core objective of the new partnership is to give (SME) companies the opportunity to test innovative applications in the practice. The last two years Amsterdam Smart City together with KPN, Liander, AIM and the City of Amsterdam have already been making this possible for various stakeholders with a strong focus on energy transition.
Liander, the Amsterdam electricity operator, stated: it wants to offer the people of Amsterdam smart technological options that enable them to save energy and make optimal use of the latest developments, such as electrical transport and domestic generation of clean energy.
Australia has been lagging behind in the development of smart cities. While many cities have launched many smart projects so far we have not come across one council that has a holistic plan based on an overall vision of a smart city.
However, the interest Frans-Anton’s presentation aroused in top management of some of the leading cities in Australia is a very promising sign that this is set to change. The key to success is indeed leadership – standing above the silos and using smart technologies to build horizontal relationships between the various sectors, industries and communities.
- Australia – How to become a Smart City (free report)
- Australia – Smart Cities – People, Transport, Cars, Buildings
- Australia – Smart Cities, Smart Infrastructure
- Australia – Smart Energy – Trends and Analyses – 2014-2015
- Australia – Smart Grid, Smart City – Key findings, recommendations and comments
- Australia – Smart Transport
- Global Smart Infrastructure – Smart Cities and Smart Communities – Trends and Insights
- BuddeComm Intelligence Report – Smart Societies based on big data
- BuddeComm Intelligence Report – Smart Transport, Smart Vehicles and Drones
- BuddeComm Intelligence Report – M2M, IoT and Big Data – Key Global Trends
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