Eindhoven lies at the heart of the Dutch Brainport Region. 125 years ago, Philips was the main motor behind Eindhoven’s industrialization. Presently, high-tech companies such as ASML and NXP, both important players in the global chip market, and Eindhoven University of Technology play an key role in the city. Despite being a frontrunner in the field of technological development and ICTs in particular, the city’s local government only presented a smart city programme entitled “Smart Society Programme” in October 2016. This programme focusses on five themes, namely data; connectivity, infrastructure and platforms; living labs; communication & ecosystem development; and communication & branding.

As part of this programme, a number of projects are running in Eindhoven. For example, companies Philips Lighting and Heijmans are experimenting with smart street lighting. The municipality selected these two companies through a public procurement process, but unlike a conventional public procurement, no specific agreements have been made with regard to the number of lamp posts that have to be placed or the lamp posts’ characteristics. Instead, the companies are obliged to interact with local inhabitants of the streets in which they are experimenting to define what kind of functionalities the lamp posts will have. Another interesting development is that of the Brainport Smart District – a participatory greenfield redevelopment project. This project, in which a wide range of actors including Eindhoven University of Technology, Helmond and Eindhoven’s local governments and a number of private partners are involved, aims to build a new neighbourhood with around 1000 homes between Eindhoven and the town of Helmond, using a wide variety of smart technologies.

Besides these “quadruple helix” initiatives with invited participation from citizens, initiatives that started withactive involvement of citizens also take place in Eindhoven. For example, two citizens started air-quality platform AiREAS, which now brings citizens, companies, knowledge institutes and (local) governmental institutes together to jointly work towards cleaner air. Waag Society, an organization keen to democratize technology, runs a project that aims to enable people to measure nuclear radiation instead of being dependent on official radiation measurement.

As researcher Evelien de Hoop argues: “Eindhoven is an interesting city to study because of the city’s experimentation with new forms of public-private partnerships combined with cases in which bottom-up initiatives attempt to challenge who creates, has access to and can act upon environmental data.