New Institute for Urban Problems - Engineers in Amsterdam

Published on
March 10, 2015

Researchers in Amsterdam have started mapping out the city’s metabolism. In the new Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions, they hope to find solutions to metropolitan problems related to energy, water, waste, food and traffic.

Article in Wageningen World

When at the end of June 2014, students on the MSc in Geo-Information Science threw PET bottles into an Amsterdam canal, it was not just a piece of hooliganism by a bunch of partying ‘Wageningers’ on a city trip. It was part of a serious trial. The bottles were equipped with a sensor making it possible to keep track of them with a GPS. Within a few days the bottles had travelled quite a way through the canals. The researchers also noticed that a few of them were fished out of the canal the next day by the municipal waste disposal service. ‘I was inspired by this kind of ‘trashtracking’ when I saw it at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, and I copied it immediately,’ relates Arnold Bregt enthusiastically. As professor of Geo-information Systems at Wageningen University, Bregt is involved in the new Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS), in which Wageningen UR, the Technical University of Delft and MIT are collaborating. The test with the plastic bottles was just one small project that coincided with the launch of AMS. It served to highlight places where garbage collects and where garbage collectors on boats can easily fish it out of the water. Hundreds of experiments of this kind, as well as larger research projects, often implemented by Amsterdam residents and visitors, are expected to deliver a huge database of useful information over the coming years...