Amsterdam Smart Citizens Lab #1

Big, Open & Beautiful #7: Smart citizens

Smart citizens: hunting data

When is the best time to take a swim in the canals? What is the healthiest route to take on your morning run, to walk your kids to the nursery, or go to work? Should you close your window at night, or just leave it open?

More and more people are migrating to the city, and their health depends on the quality of the environment: the quality of the air, the soil, and the water. Traditionally, the municipal services take these measurements themselves. Based on their findings, decisions are made (think of an environmental zone, new speed limits, or dedicated bus lanes. Yet, the official monitoring network is necessarily limited because there are major differences in data from street to street, house to house, and day-to-day. With the advent of new, low-cost technology something can be done about these discrepancies. Concerned and enthusiastic smart citizens can take these measurements themselves to find the answers to their questions.

In both The Netherlands and abroad, there are plenty of examples from which we can learn. Amsterdam, Manchester, and Barcelona have experimented with the Smart Citizen Kit, while the Public Lab in New York and London has been helping citizens make measurements with cheap and simple means. In Nijmegen, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam new monitoring networks have been created to complement the existing ones. And now, the Smart Citizen Lab has been established in Amsterdam, where new technology is being developed.

Tonight, we're putting these “participatory measurements” under the microscope. We'll listen to enthusiastic speakers, Mara Balestrini (IAAC, Barcelona) and Cindy Regalado (Public Lab), and find out the results from the Smart Citizen Lab. We'll then round off the evening with a panel discussion. As always, Big, Open & Beautiful will give its audience a chance to speak. The evening will be English spoken. 


  • Introduction by Frank Kresin (Research director, Waag)
  • Experiences and lessons learned from the Amsterdam Smart Citizens Lab
  • Discussion with Ger Baron (City of Amsterdam), Hester Volten (RIVM), Jonathan Carter (Glimworm) and Pieter van Boheemen (Waag)
  • International examples: Smart Citizen Kit platform (Barcelona), explained by 'cultural technologist' Mara Balestrini and Public Lab (London), by 'citizen scientist' Cindy Regalado.
  • Concluding the event, questions and answers

About the guests

  • Ger Baron, CTO Amsterdam Economic Board. Stimulates innovation and cooperation between businesses, knowledge institutes and government authorities in the Amsterdam metropolitan area.
  • Hester Volten, scientist air quality at the RIVM (National Institute of Public Health and the Environment). She is a member of the iSPEX team, a highly successful citizen science project in which citizens use an add-on to turn their smartphone into scientific instruments to measure particulate matter.
  • Jonathan Carter, based in Amsterdam and with nearly 30 years of experience in Advanced technology, Jonathan is the Technical director of Glimworm and Glimworm Beacons.  
  • Since 2010 he has concentrated on IoT and since 2013 co-organises and hosts the Amstedam IoT meetup "sensemakers". Jonathan is passionate to advance the IoT community wherever his experiences can add value. At present Jonathan is attempting to arrange an IoT living lab in the city of Amsterdam.
  • Pieter van Boheemen, head Fablab Amsterdam, Open Wetlab and Open Design Lab at Waag. Pieters works with emerging technologies and their impact on citizens and society.
  • Mara Balestrini is a partner and Director of Research at Ideas for Change where she consults on innovation, user engagement, open and collaborative strategies, and exponential growth models. Since 2010, she is an advisor at Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, on topics such as technology enhanced expositions, user participation and future trends.
  • Cindy Regalado is concerned with Citizen Science, where people initiate their own investigations and explorations (the more extreme end of 'collaborative science'), and works with communities and through Citizens without Borders to create playspaces for reflection and engagement, as well as tools for exploration. At Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, she is community organizer.

'Big, Open & Beautiful' is a series of Waag and Pakhuis de Zwijger in which we discuss aspects of open data, big data and data visualization. This episode is supported by 'Doorbraakproject Big Data' and 'Making Sense, the EU follow-up project for the Amsterdam Smart Citizens Lab.




Pakhuis de Zwijger, Piet Heinkade 179, Amsterdam