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Smart Citizens

1st October 2015

What a great experience! I joined a project called Amsterdam Smart Citizens at the Waag Society seven months ago Amsterdam Smart Citizens and it has been one of the best things I have done this year so far.

This meetup is made up of a mix of people with different backgrounds, all interested in learning more about their environment, in this case the city of Amsterdam. There is a common pattern among them, they all want to learn and share knowledge, they are willing to help and contribute with new ideas, they are empathetic, respectful, tolerant and open-minded.

Who are the smart citizens?

We, citizens of all cities, take the fate of the places we live in into our own hands. We care about the buildings and the parks, the shops, the schools, the roads and the trees. But above all, we care about the quality of the life we live in our cities.

Smart citizens refuse to be consumers, client and informants only, and reclaim agency towards the processes, algorithms and systems that shape our world. We need to know how decisions are made, we need to have the information that is at hand; we need to have direct access to the people in power, and be involved in the crafting of laws and procedures that we grapple with every day.

These are only extracts from the manifesto that Waag Society created. I love all the points in it, however I have highlighted the following six:

  • Take responsibility for the place they live, work and love in.
  • Value access over ownership, contribution over power.
  • Ask forgiveness, NOT permission.
  • Value empathy, dialogue and trust.
  • Help the people that struggle with smart stuff.
  • Ask questions, then more questions, before they come up with answers.

The manifesto carries some values inside, that the smart citizens want to see reflected in our society.

We want to work along with our governments to improve life in the cities, gathering data that helps to make better decisions.

We want to share our passion and enthusiasm with our governments because as the manifesto says, we ARE our governments. Without us, there is nobody there.

There is no smart city without smart citizens and this must be the starting point to build a truthful smart city.

I truly believe in the smart citizens movement, it represents a wind of change in the way the decisions have been made till now. You can take a look at how the movement is evolving and take action in this website

I would like to ask you to join the movement and together become the change that we all want to see in our society.

'It takes a village to raise a child, it takes people to craft a society.' - Smart Citizens manifesto

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