Smart cities
Smart cities

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Smart cities

4 Lessons learned from Amsterdam

You have already explored the development of Amsterdam’s Smart City Strategy and partnership approach in earlier weeks. In 2016 the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, in cooperation with Amsterdam Smart City, published a report called Organising Smart City Projects: Lessons learned from Amsterdam [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . It analysed 12 smart city projects in Amsterdam and provides an insight into practices in three key areas - energy, mobility, and circular economy.

This study was undertaken through a combination of desk research and field work and looked at the non-technological aspects of smart city projects focused on the following questions:

  • How do organisations with different agendas, collaborate on smart city projects?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What kind of value is created?
  • How are risks and returns shared? How are users involved?
  • What is the upscaling dynamic of smart city solutions, if any?
  • How can smart city projects be managed professionally?

Drawing on insights from across the smart city projects, some of their high level conclusions were that the smart city partnership should fit the project scope and must be open to new input. That the scope and focus of smart city projects should be clear and shared by all partners involved, as projects benefit from clear ownership and committed leadership. User involvement is a multi-layered and ongoing process. The value of projects need careful consideration and evaluation, and creating a viable business model is key to legacy and upscaling of the project. Technology itself is not the problem, it is the way the technology is used and integrated. Also that upscaling is a multi-layered process and cannot prosper without knowledge sharing.

The report found that Amsterdam’s scale and culture favoured smart city collaborations, as it was easy for partners to find each other and the Amsterdam Smart City platform was seen as an important connector. Amsterdam takes a broad perspective to smart cities, but this did raise the issue that ‘smart city’ could mean anything and they might need a more precise terminology for project types. They also found there is still a long way to go to move from a technology or solution led approach towards a citizen and end-user centred approach that takes full account of human needs and behaviour. While many smart city definitions consider citizens to be central, in the Amsterdam projects they evaluated they rarely found evidence of this. Citizens were seldom included as an official part of the project partnership.

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