Livable Smart Cities Alliance to invest in urban livability with UN help

Last week saw the launch of the Livable Smart Cities Alliance in which the municipalities of Amsterdam and Warsaw have agreed to invest in urban livability. It comes from an initiative by the United Nations, the city of Amsterdam, the Johan Cruijff Arena and Geodan/EduGIS. The city of Amsterdam has designated Zuidoost as the testing ground for the project. People living in this suburb in Amsterdam’s southeast will be the first to get started on livability in this way.

The livability of cities has a direct impact on the happiness of its inhabitants, according to scientific studies. The UN, the municipality of Amsterdam, the municipality of Warsaw, the Johan Cruijff ArenA and EduGIS have signed a cooperation agreement for the coming years. They have drawn up a vision document to give further shape to the approach and address such questions as ‘what makes a city actually livable? What conditions must it meet?’

The perfect moment
The Johan Cruijff ArenA works closely with the municipality of Amsterdam. Henk van Raan, Chief Innovation Officer of the ArenA: “If ever there was a moment to invest in quality of life and building a smart city, then it is now. There is more money available, but more importantly, we have lots of interest and support, and we have the technology available to run extensive tests. We’re also glad to take up our responsibility in the city.”

Digital twin
Geodan has developed a ‘digital twin’ for the Livable Smart Cities Alliance: an exact copy of the city in digital form. This model will let project members, together with residents, consider potential solutions in real time as it will provide immediate insight into the effects of actions. Henk Scholten, director at Geodan/EduGIS: “What does it mean if someone wants to have solar panels? What are the consequences? Does anyone plan to build a tall, sun-blocking building? But also: setting up a big organization in a neighborhood will produce jobs; how many, then, and what will it mean in the longer term? It is precisely by making these kinds of effects transparent in both the short- and long-term that allows you to create livable cities. ”

Worldwide rollout
During the kick-off, the alliance members considered solutions in such areas as mobility, safety, education and sustainability. The focus was not only on sustainability as often happens, but also on social aspects: more jobs, self-reliance, no poverty. The specialisms of all those present (government, industry and science) have been brought together for the first time in order to give form to the ambition: to make cities livable and to keep them livable, now and in the future.

Van Raan is aiming high: “This is a wake-up call for many other cities, such as London and Paris, but also cities in China. It’s time to get going. When we meet again next year, I hope that we will have more alliances, and that we’ll be well on the way to making Amsterdam Southeast more livable and the people happier.”