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Responsible Smart City Design NWO Project: Smart Culture - Creative Cities


Project information

The growing municipality of Amersfoort – which is already home to 155,000 residents – stands on the brink of major change. Its main issues revolve around sustainability, smart technology and democratic participation. How can you give substance to these developments and ensure that the interests of various groups in the “smart” city are all represented?

project partners

background project

It is a commonly heard term in policy documents and the social media posts of city officials: the “smart city”. The messages are optimistic and emphasise the fact that a smart city utilises modern technology and new forms of collaboration to improve urban facilities and the quality of life in the city.

Smart city theories are not immune to criticism, however; mainly because of the use of the loaded term “smart” (who decides that?) and because of the belief that the smart city is mainly supported by officials, scientists and engineers and less so by the residents themselves. This research project seeks to make a critical and positive contribution by putting people first and bringing together the interests of all stakeholders in the smart city.

smart city collaboration platform

How can we achieve this? We are developing an architecture for a smart-city collaboration platform. It supports the role division between partners in the so-called “quadruple helix” (government-citizens-academics-industry).

The exact nature of this platform – online, offline or a combination of the two – will be decided by the partners together. The goal is for the platform to encourage stakeholders to give substance to their smart city using the latest technological developments and a degree of ownership.


Our focus is on the role that design and the creative industry can play in the realisation of effective collaboration in the quadruple helix. We identify the keys to success and possible obstacles on the road. This responsible design approach – which involves all stakeholders in the dialogue – offers a fresh perspective on the design of smart cities.

Want to participate in this project?
CommunicationManaging informationResearch and analysisProject and task managementTeamworkCommitment to qualityProfessional behaviourSocial responsibilityContinuous learningEntrepreneurialDesigningCollaborationAcademic excellencePerformance managementCustomer focusAmbitiousInnovativeCreativeHigh Tech, Human Touch

My project updates

1 Nov 2018

Julieta starts postdoc research

On November 1st, Julieta joined the team as a postdoctoral researcher. Below she introduces herself to the community! Welcome!  


My name is Julieta Matos Castaño and I am the postdoctoral researcher working at the University of Twente. I am very excited to have joined this project!  

Prior to joining this project I have had experience in various countries and fields. Having a background in civil engineering, I decided to move to the Netherlands triggered by my interest in having international experience, and learning more about multi-stakeholder collaboration practices. In 2016, I obtained a PhD at the University of Twente, with a focus on stakeholder collaboration in complex infrastructure projects. In my research, I developed a collaboration tool to make the dilemmas of design and decision making explicit (called “the dilemma cube”). After my PhD, I worked as a change management consultant at multinational consultancy firm. During my consultancy time, I worked together with organizations to think and implement stakeholder engagement strategies throughout major change journeys.  

This postdoctoral position is an exciting opportunity to put in practice my previous experience, and creatively co-develop a collaboration platform with a very interesting group of stakeholders. I am particularly interested in supporting stakeholders to turn controversies into opportunities by making the implications of technology (at different levels) explicit.

The diverse nature of our project consortium, the relevance of the project to society, and the possibility of using creative approaches to achieve our project goals make this an incredible experience. I am looking forward to the upcoming 3 years!

1 Sep 2018

Anouk has started her PhD research

Anouk Geenen joined the project to start working on her PhD. Welcome, Anouk! Below you can find a message from her: 


My name is Anouk, and I will be working as a PhD on the project Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities.

I have a strong interdisciplinary background, with a BSc Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a MSc Theoretical Physics & Science in Society. Over the years I have had a growing interest in the societal and ethical aspects of technology. During my graduation project at the Rathenau Instituut I was able turn this interest into a research project, and I looked into the societal impact of the so-called Internet of Energy – where the energy transition and digitization meet.

With this project I have the opportunity to research and co-create a collaboration platform for the smart city Amersfoort. I will look at how to bring various stakeholders together in a meaningful way, in order to let them reflect upon the smart city technologies and co-create a future city together.

I am very excited about working with inspiring group of project partners in the coming years.