How did Eindhoven's ambition of being a smart city relate to the reality of citizen engagement? The State of Eindhoven, a public forum on building an intelligent city in a participatory society, addressed this question and the tensions inherent in it. In this meeting at Dutch Design Week, participants explored with the audience how the two concepts harmonise and clash in Eindhoven.
Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Eindhoven city council are working together on a multiyear cultural programme relating to the changing relationship between government and citizens, and in particular Eindhoven’s twofold ambition to be a smart city in a participatory society. A city, in other words, where the government no longer conceives and controls everything but shares responsibility with residents and local businesses. The narrative of the smart city is still in its infancy, however. How can residents and businesses find a connection to the smart city or contribute to it? And why should they?
At the public forum on 23 October 2015, we installed a “smart council” of six trailblazing scholars, thinkers and designers from the Netherlands and abroad. They critically examined Eindhoven’s ambitions and worked with the guests to formulate action points for the programme. These constituted the first concrete steps in the multiyear partnership, in which we will build a broad programme around the central theme, working with citizens, entrepreneurs, institutions and other parties in Eindhoven.
The Smart Council will consist of:
- designer and urbanist Dan Hill (associate director of London design and engineering firm Arup)
- designer Anab Jain (founder of the British-Indian design and innovation firm Superflux)
- Tsjalling Swierstra, professor of the philosophy of technology (Maastricht University)
- public entrepreneur Albert Jan Kruiter (cofounder of Instituut voor Publieke Waarden)
- Evelien Tonkens, professor of citizenship and humanisation of the public sector (University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht)
- Chris Sigaloff (director of Kennisland)
During the meeting, the actors’ group Wunderbaum confronted visitors in a theatrical manner with the reality of the active citizen and the smart city. And the Open Source City data platform presented the first results of its study of contemporary Eindhoven, which has identified existing initiatives that play a role in the participatory society and the smart city. It provided a clear picture of where the city is today and where it might be heading – the State of Eindhoven.