The 100 Homes Living Lab

UNSense, will develop an adaptive neighbourhood of ​​100 Homes in Brainport Smart District, Helmond. Commissioned by the Brainport Smart District Foundation, UNSense has recently completed an extensive research that demonstrates the financial, technological and legal feasibility of the project.
Positive impact on wellbeing of residents

Having recently received approval of the Brainport Smart District foundation, this means that UNSense has officially started to take the next steps toward the further realization of this smart neighbourhood of “100 Homes” – a life constantly evolving real life learning environment where data and technology are applied and tested at a neighbourhood level with the aim to create a positive impact on the well-being of residents, both socially and economically.

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UNSense, orchestrator and partners

As creator and guardian of the ‘Living Lab concept, UNSense will act as orchestrator of the process, directing public private collaborations and partnerships between the different parties. Over the coming months UNSense will further build three consortia: one for the construction of the houses and the infrastructure, a tech consortium for the construction of the innovative urban data platform and a consortium for the development of the services related to the areas of living, mobility, food and health. To bring the project to life, UNSense is has already brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including local governments, research institutions, potential service and building partners. We are proud to announce VolkerWessels companies SDK Vastgoed and VolkerWessels Telecom will develop and build the 100 houses and the underlying infrastructure (energy, telecom, water and sewerage). These “smart homes” form the basis for the operation of the Urban Data Platform. VolkerWessels aims to learn and develop in an innovative way, thereby contributing positively to current and future quality of life.

A circular and inclusive city

The “100 Homes Project” is part of the UNStudio masterplan for the expansion of the Brandevoort neighbourhood, a plan with 1500 permanent and 500 temporary homes, greenery and 12 hectares of business park, with the ambition to become the “smartest neighbourhood in the world”. The masterplan is designed around key pillars such as self-sufficiency through joint energy generation and local food production, future-proof water management, joint data management and groundbreaking mobility services.


Lower cost, saving time and energy

Research shows that technological progress has always had a direct influence on our daily lives – and that earlier industrial revolutions have often led to saving time, energy and money, and to an overall increase in comfort levels. The same mechanism now applies to the 4th industrial revolution. Our goal is that, by developing intelligent services that connect and adapt to the needs and consumption habits of residents, basic services will become manageable and fixed costs will be reduced, while (net) income will increase. Based on our research, it is clear that technology within the urban landscape can lead to time, energy and financial savings associated with housing, mobility, food and health. As a result, more time and energy can become available for people to spend on more meaningful, pleasant and healthier activities. This will increase their sense of quality of life, well-being, happiness and health.

Data and smart technology are already intertwined with our daily activities. The smart phone has gradually made all kinds of daily operations easier, faster and in some cases also cheaper while the amount of available applications continue to increase. The advancement of technology (5G, IoT, sensors, AI, ML) makes it possible to further expand the domain of data to the level of the city. For example: by integrating technology into homes, cars or public spaces, daily activities (grocery shopping, cooking, household chores) can be made easier, while costs are saved. A neighbourhood where people produce their own food and energy – based on the rates of consumption  – can become increasingly circular, energy efficient and green. Electric transport facilities will make an (expensive) car in the driveway practically unnecessary. By facilitating different housing types, the neighbourhood will be attractive and inclusive to a cross-section of society. The nature of such an intelligent, learning, adaptive urban district –  a Living Lab – is that precise needs and related services cannot be determined in advance. They will need to be developed with residents and understood through their use of the space.

Towards a new model for equal data exchange

At the same time, the 100 Homes Project is aimed at testing an alternative and fairer economic model in which the residents themselves, citizens and end-users benefit from the exchange of their data. The current dominant business model is based on data that consumers and small companies provide for free to technology companies in exchange for services: a structure where only tech companies benefit from the profit. 100 Homes wants to develop an alternative model, whereby residents benefit equally from data exchange.

The backbone of the new neighbourhood is formed around a digital platform, the Urban Data Platform. Unlike many existing data exchange systems, this platform uses the principle of Equal Exchange, meaning that data ownership is not controlled by one single tech company, or by a handful of them, but by the citizens themselves. By focusing on ‘user consent’, the residents and end users become the owners of their own data, and through the Urban Data Platform, they themselves can decide what data they want to protect and what they want to share and with which parties. By giving residents control over which data they share with whom, the basis for a new economic model of Equal Exchange is created, and residents are given control over the services that are developed around their data within their community. With a dashboard – under the management of a neutral party – the platform will provide precise insights for each user into the profit that the data exchange yields. Ultimately, this will lead to a situation where the added value of the data exchange is equal and tangible for all parties.

International model: the livable, learning city

The 100 Homes Project has the ambition and the potential to be an international model for smart and future-proof urban developments that benefit both people and the planet. The urban landscape is changing rapidly worldwide. By 2050, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of global populations will live in cities. This rapid urbanization brings with it a whole series of new challenges: from increasing social isolation to enormous pressure on existing food, energy and water systems. A small-scale Living Lab such as the Brainport Smart District offers an excellent opportunity to validate innovative design solutions and to test their scalability.

Privacy and the Board of Ethics

Data privacy is rightly a very sensitive topic and is of course our highest priority. In recent years, a great deal of distrust has developed around big tech firms. For this reason, an Ethics Council will be set up for the 100 Homes Project, consisting of scientists and independent experts from the public and private sector. It will serve as an objective advisory body on specific topics such as data ownership, privacy, regulation and financial gain for the end user.