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Stedennetwerk G40 interview wethouder Alderman Wim Willem City of Apeldoorn AMCS Group.jpg

17 Nov 2020

Alderman Willems, City of Apeldoorn: "Sharing knowledge about innovative smart city concepts important"

Report ‘Smart cities in the G40’ shows 400 examples of projects in The Netherlands


Sharing knowledge about new technologies with Dutch municipal administrators responsible for waste collection in The Netherlands. According to Alderman Wim Willems of the City of Apeldoorn, this is the key value of the 'Smart cities in the G40' report in which he participated as co-chair of the Dutch G40 Smart Cities group.

Thanks to the experience of helping to compile the 'Smart cities in the G40' report, Alderman Willems now knows that Smart technology comes in all shapes and sizes. "Like a camera on a collection vehicle that can share pictures of troublesome weeds to tackle unwanted greenery in public spaces", was just one example he cited.

The interview with him is peppered with many other examples, such as the on-demand waste collection and sensors that register the fill-level of a container in the countryside. But also five companies that jointly collect industrial waste in the centre of Haarlem, in collaboration with the municipality.

Working together on upscaling smart city

From his own municipality, Willems cites the example of the ConTracker, a track and trace system for containers. "That project is also part of the G40 report. Sharing knowledge and experience is important to raise awareness and show how innovative technology can boost smart cities projects”, he emphasises.

For the alderman, this was also a reason to talk to his fellow administrators. “I was looking for projects at the other 39 municipalities. Exchanging information strengthens the network and thus lays the foundation for scaling up projects. Why would every city reinvent the wheel again if the knowledge is already available?"

An incredible amount is happening, he says. “The report shows what we are already doing. The next step is to work together. Why should we let all waste collectors drive through the centre if, by joining forces, such as in Haarlem, we can reduce that number of vehicles? With all the associated advantages, such as less nuisance, a reduction in CO2 emissions and more efficient collection thanks to fill-level sensors”.

More efficient waste collection through innovative technology

Waste is an issue in every municipality, says Willems. "Although there is a lot to be gained, aldermen are not always aware of the latest technological developments. Such as a sensor that indicates when a citizen has put his or her bin outside to be emptied. Based on this data, the centralised system knows how many containers have to be emptied and how many collection vehicles are needed to do so. An efficient waste collection not only means the ability to efficiently deploy resources but also to drive fewer kilometres and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.”

According to him, the latter is an essential condition for a sustainable and liveable city. “For Apeldoorn, mobility and sustainability are important themes for smart city projects. Like traffic lights talking to each other to coordinate an ongoing traffic flow. This has multiple benefits such as less fuel consumption due to a decrease of braking and acceleration and thus more cost savings for companies."

The bicycle is a central focus point in the city of Apeldoorn's local policy, Willems says, “The project 'Bicycle-friendly Apeldoorn', for example, has a smart link between the traffic lights and the national weather station. In case of imminent bad weather, traffic lights can be switched off before the rain comes, giving cyclists the green light to complete their journey more quickly. About 60% of the Apeldoorn traffic lights are now part of this network. As a resident, you may not be aware of this connected technology around you, but yet you are always one step ahead of the approaching rain because of these smart connected traffic lights!"