“In the coming years, Dutch cities will redevelop with proven technology into totally different cityscapes with new forms of local energy and food production, lighting, water use. Closed loop recycling and green energy are rapidly becoming the norm. And most importantly, our neighbourhoods will be safe, enjoyable and creative living and working environments. Old industrial areas or abandoned office buildings transform into places to live and work, with attractive surroundings.”

No, this is not Utopia. This is the image of the future that Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma is offering the visitors of next week’s Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. Jorritsma is the leader of the Dutch delegation. In his introductory remarks to the Dutch participants for the Congress, he is far from shy about the capabilities of the Dutch. “On a global level, the Netherlands play a leading role in the areas of mobility, energy, food and water technology. Through international entrepreneurship, an open and innovative economy and the natural position as ‘gateway to Europe’, the Netherlands have been able to maintain and improve this position.”

Smart cities like Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam, are setting future standards for excellence, Jorritsma says. “In close collaboration and sharing knowledge with citizens, inventors, artists, developers, research and knowledge institutions and companies. It’s all about technology shaped by people in society, not technology dropped over to them by governments or companies. We have to keep in mind that it is not about selling smart technology, but about developing concepts that bring about a change in human behaviour.”

The Netherlands are aiming to be Circular and Accessible, Jorritsma adds. “These are pressing issues in our densely populated nation. After all, air, water, traffic and waste flows don’t respect municipal boundaries, and people rarely live, work and play in the same area. The economy as we know it will shift into new models, structures and meaningfulness. This shift requires a sufficient and clear public governance, involved entrepreneurship and commitment of our citizens.”

Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona is held from November 12 to November 15, 2018.