Hi #SmartCommunity friends. Welcome back to another episode of the Smart Community Podcast. I’m excited to share this episode with Bas Boorsma, the founder & CEO of Urban Innovators Inc and the author of ‘A New Digital Deal’. I have been wanting to get Bas on the podcast for a while and we finally made it happen. In this episode, Bas tells us about his 2 decade background in urban innovation and his passion for the course of human progress throughout history, and what a Smart Community means to him. We discuss the importance of balancing co-design and bottom up approaches with discernment and leadership, and the need for pragmatism and realism when engaging with citizens. Bas tells us about the maturing of Smart Community thinking over the years he’s been in the industry, and why governments and the public sector must balance their risk aversion with moonshot thinking if we are going to solve the problems facing us today.
Bas and I discuss his stint as the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and the biggest projects and challenges there, including the practical things that can stop innovation in government. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of Smart City silos, the opportunities for AI to help humanity, and the importance of being open-minded about different cultural approaches driving convergence to what works best for the community. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Bas’ 20+ year background in urban innovation and passion for the course of human progress through history
- What a Smart Community means to Bas
- The importance of balancing co-design and bottom up approaches with discernment and leadership
- The problem with fundamentalist approaches to anything in Smart cities
- The need for pragmatism and realism when engaging with citizens
- What maturing of Smart Community thinking Bas has seen over the last 20 years
- Why governments and the public sector must balance their risk aversion with moonshot thinking if we are going to solve the problems facing us today
- The next step for Smart Cities being a return to just cities, because all the ‘Smart’ solutions are mainstream
- Projects and challenges from Bas’ stint as the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands
- The need for a concerted effort around digital inclusion
- Practical things that can stop innovation in government
- The emerging trends of Smart City silos and the opportunities for AI to help humanity
- The importance of being open-minded about different cultural approaches driving convergence to what works best for the community
“Where I think it got to be even more serious was where we stopped just looking at vertical point solutions in the internet of things, but really return to the human perspective on it all…And so what does this mean? What does it mean if you’re going to say, cities have already always consisted of two pillars, built environment and social economic exchange between people to be now joined by a third one, which is the virtual city.”
“I always joke whenever I keynote somewhere, [that] after 22 years, I no longer know what a Smart City actually is. …It depends on what point of view you take at a particular point in time.”
“It is the catch all phrase for innovation programs, where leaders, citizens and other stakeholders tried to arrive at an agenda for the betterment of their community. And very often that does include the use of particular innovative technologies.”
“Just make sure that if you’re a responsible leader in all of this, that, that you understand what you’re going in with talking to the citizens get, you’re prepared to deal with what you’re going to get back from citizens, and that you’re going to be able to implement, if you fail any of those three things, then what is it that you’re trying to do? So that really to me these type of questions, these type of perspectives, provide a fair share of realism and pragmatism in terms of how you plan for this and what it means to engage with citizens.
“This is also what should be part of our collective community agenda and awareness and agenda setting. What do we expect from those technologies? And how will this improve our lives? This is not just about the streets, or what the municipality will do for you, or what you’re going to talk about when you’re dealing with your municipality. This is about a much larger perspective in terms of how are we able to provide the right type of governance to ensure that we get out of those technologies, what we want?”
“The public sector is by definition, risk averse. And that completely makes sense because you’re dealing with public sector resources, taxpayers money, with mandates of politicians that have been elected. And therefore, as a civil servant, you need to be conservative about a number of things. On the other hand, I also very much agree with Mariana Mazzucato’s book “Machine Economy,” where governments will need to relearn how to actually defy a moonshot. Because without moonshots on public sector side, humanity is simply not going to make it.”
“Those that were innovating and forging innovations 10 years ago, were complaining already at the time, cities should organise themselves differently. What is painful is that actually, the innovators got kind of siloed themselves.”
“There are things that our human models will simply not be able to see. But AI will….And it’s going to be a game changer on a massive scale. So on the technology side, in some ways, the best is still to come, we’re going to see really exciting developments.
‘A New Digital Deal’ by Bas Boorsma – https://anewdigitaldeal.com/
‘Mission Economy’ by Mariana Mazzucato – https://www.amazon.com.au/Mission-Economy-Moonshot-Changing-Capitalism/dp/0141991682/ref=asc_df_0141991682/?tag=googleshopdsk-22&linkCode=df0&hvadid=563297081642&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=851261334226938651&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1000286&hvtargid=pla-1309760096771&psc=1
Connect with Bas on LinkedIn
Connect with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.