Smart Society meets Smart Humanitarianism

Smart Society meets Smart Humanitarianism

Coalition – October 29th, 2018

During the Dutch Design Week, VNG organised a symposium focussing on what happens when ‘Smart Society meets Design‘. DCHI took part in the panel that explored the next steps to take concerning the Dutch National Smart City Strategy in an international context.

The panel, which was moderated by Roxane Daniels of VNG, consisted of Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines (The Hague’s alderman for Education, Knowledge Economy and International Affairs), Bram Reinders (Global Smart City & Community Coalition), Evert-Jan Mulder (Red Plume), and Roza Freriks (DCHI), and explored how innovation in the Netherlands can have a global impact and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Examples that came out were the way Dutch knowledge regarding data science can contribute to optimize food assistance programs of WFP, and the opportunities Dutch innovation in the context of circular and climate-neutral living provide. In both cases, innovative solutions that are being developed and tested in the Netherlands, can have an impact well beyond its borders.

To realize such impact however, unlikely allies need to work together. Both the National Smart City Strategy as well as DCHI call for public private collaboration as an enabler for innovation. Another interesting parallel between the various ways of working, is that both advocate for a focus on scale; encouraging Dutch municipalities and humanitarian organisations respectively, to adopt innovative solutions once they have proven to work, even if they have been developed by a neighbour.

Finally; both in the case of government as well as for the humanitarian sector, innovation and transformation are closely connected. However, “only when organisations are not afraid to evaluate their own roles in a changing world,” Roza shared, “can the transformative power of innovation be released. The innovation efforts by these humanitarian organisations that have the courage to take a fresh look at their own roles indeed, and even enjoy doing so, are the ones that end up having the most impact.”