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Minister Kajsa Ollongren (Home Affairs) of the Netherlands supports the initiatives around Brainport Smart District in the city of Helmond, where residents can get rent reductions in exchange for access to their personal data. She writes this in response to parliamentary questions from the Party for the Animals.

“I think it is a positive development that experiments are being conducted with the possibilities offered by data to work on social tasks and on the quality of life, for example, to make neighbourhoods more sustainable and circular”, writes Ollongren. “I also find it positive that small-scale experiments are being conducted with new ways of involving citizens in such developments, and it is in line with the government’s ambition to give citizens more control over the use of their data.”

Read more about Brainport Smart District here

In Helmond, a smart residential area is being built, Brainport Smart District, in which new technologies and ways of living will be experimented with. For example, it will look at how a district can be made sustainable and circular. The initiators are also looking at new ways of using data for this purpose. The starting point is to shape this development together with the residents of the district.

The initiative is a collaboration between governments, universities and residents, the minister emphasises. “The initiative is not privately funded” and thus differs from a project carried out by Google in Toronto. “At a later stage, market parties were invited to see whether they could offer specific services on one of the selected themes, such as sustainability and physical and social welfare.”

According to Ollongren, no concrete agreements have yet been made about data sharing. “It should also be investigated whether or to what extent these data can contain elements that can be traced back to individuals. Moreover, the involvement of future residents will be an important condition for this initiative. Privacy is a fundamental right. It, therefore, goes without saying that, while processing personal data, the starting point must be that the applicable legal frameworks regarding data protection, in particular the GDPR, are taken into account.”

Ollongren has invited Brainport Smart District to join the initiatives of NL Digital in the field of proper data use in public space. In this process, its ministry is already working together with the municipalities of Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Groningen and with academic partners to investigate which ethical dilemmas may arise and which legal frameworks apply.