A place to feel at home. That’s what Amsterdam Zuidoost should be for its 90.000 residents and nine million retail and entertainment visitors annually. The area ranks number one in Elsevier’s ranking of the most productive areas in the Netherlands.
The number of inhabitants and visitors to Amsterdam Zuidoost is growing rapidly, as are as large investments in housing, businesses and leisure. Yet, the area still carries a degree of stigma concerning safety. In addition, the public space remains cluttered and deserted outside of working hours and the housing, offices and leisure areas are not sufficiently linked.
Such a context however, offers the area a unique opportunity to re-invent itself. Inhabitants, investors and the municipality are eager to invest in communities and smart solutions, aiming to build a city prepared for future demands and necessities.
Together with city government, inhabitants, local entrepreneurs and retailers, UNSense is looking into ways to transform the central Hoekerode plaza – which connects the Bijlmer Arena train station to the shopping area of the Poort and the flagship stores, cinemas and concert halls of the Arena Boulevard – from a mere ‘transfer zone’ into a lively place to be and destination in itself: an urban meeting place that expresses the identity of this culturally diverse neighbourhood.
As part of the UNSense Joint Forces Programme, we have brought different departments of the municipality of Amsterdam, local entrepreneurs and enterprises together to envision and anticipate the city district’s future through co-creation. During multiple stakeholder sessions we have diagnosed the challenges and needs that the city district and the Hoekerode plaza in particular are facing. These include safety after dark and an absence of liveliness and social activity during the day.
Finally, we formulated a future vision, translating citizen needs into ideas that will lead to positive experiences in the built environment. To achieve this, we propose a set of digital and physical solutions and interventions that will stimulate activity and social interaction on the plaza, thereby encouraging social cohesion and a sense of community.
In the coming months we will be investigating, testing and prototyping the opportunities of a city-district-wide smart sensor network to collect urban data through an open data platform. By implementing a digital infrastructure of smart poles with sensors and targeted technologies, the area will be transformed into an urban sensing space that can measure the presence, movement and activity of the people on the square, and ultimately adapt the location to the needs of its users.