AMS Institute Charting the Course Towards Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities

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Socrates once famously said: “By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities”. And it is precisely this wisdom that propels Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) into action. Joining forces with one of the world’s most renowned universities, companies, city authorities and supported by a diverse range of stakeholders, AMS Institute is in a fast lane to solving some of the most burning urban challenges in Amsterdam.

Interdisciplinarity as the key ally

The institute, founded in 2014 as a result of a 10-year project plan, is a public-private partnership between Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, Delft University of Technology, City of Amsterdam, Shell, European Space Agency, Accenture, IBM, Port of Amsterdam, Cisco, Waternet, Alliander and KPN. Its mission is to free the intelligence from the constraints of an ivory tower and disperse it in the society so that ordinary people can reap the most benefits. The Institute boasts high levels of interdisciplinarity and leverages data and knowledge from the fields of design, planning, life sciences, engineering, physics, mathematics, information technology and social sciences in order to tackle some of the most prevalent societal challenges grappling the city of Amsterdam. AMS Institute acts as a forum where stakeholders from various walks of life can pinpoint the current prevailing challenges to be later captured in a strategy plan that should serve as a springboard for their solutions.

AMS Institute is constituted through 3 main pillars around which its activities revolve, which include:

  1. Research & Valorization – Activities are defined and carried out by the academic partners of AMS Institute (over 100 researchers involved). Each research and valorization project or program must add value to the platform in the form of, for example, data, knowledge, network and/or infrastructure that can be leveraged for other projects. Some of the emerging themes within this pillar include the notions of circular city, vital city and connected city.
  • Education –It involves education of graduate students and researchers from partner institutions and is being supported by the research and valorization arm and its partners. Within this pillar, AMS Institute has organized a two-year MSc Program MADE (Metropolitan Analysis, Design and Engineering) that focuses on equipping engineers with both practical and theoretical grounding necessary for them to solve the urban challenges. Further offerings stemming from this pillar are summer schools, online courses, professional education and student projects.
  • Value Platform –It supports education, research and valorization, and these in turn fuel the value platform and challenge it to continuously reinvent itself to create value. The Value Platform lays the groundwork for data infrastructure operations, business development, living labs set up, incubator and network facilities.
AMS Institute Vision (Source: AMS Institute)

Target Areas and Success Stories

The activities stemming from AMS institute are clustered around 6 key areas, those being smart urban mobility, urban energy, climate resilient cities, metropolitan food systems, responsible urban digitalization and circularity in urban regions.  The challenges revolving around these 6 thematic urban areas are tackled through various projects. Thus far, AMS Institute carried out over 100 projects through which it provided the city of Amsterdam with innovative solutions in order to attain its goal of creating more smart and resilient city. Some of the more noteworthy projects include 5-year, €25 million project Roboat, the world’s first research project on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas. Equipped with state-of-the-art systems (such as Laser Image Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)), Roboat vessels have a multi-purpose: transport of goods, environmental sensing and waste removal. Another project worth mentioning is a 4-year HORIZON 2020 project REPAiR (Resource Management in Peri-Urban Areas) involving a consortium of 18 international partners. It aims to facilitate the shift to seeing waste as a resource, while determining the implications of this shift and exploring ways to tackle it and ultimately contributing to the circular economy goals.

The Institute’s impressive track record of successful projects and initiatives has made sure that this undertaking lives well past its initial 10-year lifecycle and continues to diffuse innovative solutions in order to improve the lives of Amsterdam citizens.   

Would you like to learn more about the AMS Institute and its approach to urban metabolism development? Please find the original case study report here.

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