Amsterdam ArenA opens innovation lab during Smart City Week

Imagine never losing your car again in a car park, never having to queue up or being held up in traffic. Imagine that the turf itself sends out a signal to switch on the sprinklers if the grass needs water or nutrients. And imagine just one single app on your smartphone to provide access to all relevant information about your environment. All of these innovations form part of the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center that was officially opened on 1 June by Alderwoman of Amsterdam Kajsa Ollongren.

The opening ceremony of the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center marks the kick-off of the Amsterdam Smart City Week, a four-day event that highlights innovations in the field of mobility, accessibility, energy, sustainability, connectivity and the fans’ experience. This dedicated week is an initiative of Amsterdam Smart City, the open innovation platform of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, which challenges companies, residents, the municipality and knowledge institutions to submit and apply innovative ideas & solutions to urban challenges. ‘Amsterdam ArenA is a trendsetter in the area of smart innovations. This leads to creative solutions to metropolitan issues including mobility, waste management, energy and connectivity, which is excellent news for the metropolitan region of Amsterdam,’ according to Alderperson Ollongren. Henk Markerink of the Amsterdam ArenA: ‘The Amsterdam ArenA has the ambition to be one of the world’s most innovative stadiums. Innovation is in our DNA. We invented the interactive turf here. The Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Centre is a platform open for everyone. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that we welcome the new innovation center to our stadium.’

Football with a sensor
The new Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center is more than just a place where smart technological inventions are born and showcased; it is the laboratory where they are tested as well. Football players can be tracked using tags and a network of sensors in the ArenA, showing their every move to an amazingly minute degree of detail, and even revealing their heart rates to the trainer or coach.

Innovation Deal
The purpose of the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center is to generate and implement innovations for a smart Southeast District of Amsterdam. It is intended to develop into the most important knowledge and innovation centre of the Netherlands in terms of smart, sustainable cities. In 2014, the Municipality of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam ArenA signed an Innovation Deal. The official opening of the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center is a concrete result of this deal. All innovations are tested for application in and around the stadium and the Southeast District of Amsterdam by the ArenA and their partners.

Subsequently, these inventions can be applied on a large scale in the entire metropolitan region, for instance where innovations are concerned in the field of traffic and transport, such as City WiFi and intelligent cameras.

The Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center is to develop into a centre where the best companies work together to develop innovative solutions for smart, sustainable cities. Organizations including Huawei, KPN, TNO (the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) and the Municipality of Amsterdam have all promised their support and set up offices in the new centre.
The Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Centre welcomes and makes space available for other innovative companies and startups as well. The new centre offers a haven of cooperation and knowledge exchange. A commitment to this goal is required of all those who wish to set up their business or office here. Furthermore, the ‘hardware’ has been given specific attention as well: the centre is equipped with supercomputers with enormous computational capacity for the companies that are located here to test all kinds of new inventions.

Amazing Monday
During the opening ceremony of the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center, Markerink launched the first ‘Amazing Monday’ – on the first Monday of every month, someone shares an idea or innovation with the other companies of the ArenA laboratory, the Living Lab. Anyone who is excited by the idea can join in immediately. In the Living Lab, innovations are continuously refined and tested at special events. KPN, for instance, is currently testing a network of sensors to help visitors locate their cars in the car park. Shortly, visitors to the ArenA and the Southeast District of Amsterdam will receive information on their smartphones about their environment by means of a temporary app. ‘As soon as you enter the ArenA, this app will automatically start loading useful information,’ explains ArenA CEO Markerink. ‘And the moment you leave the stadium, the app will start loading other data that are relevant to your location.’

In tandem with the Smart City conference, Amsterdam Smart City will organize the Appsterdam Smart City Challenge. During this hackathon, app developers, students and designers will be challenged to create intelligent solutions to various issues and problems in the area of energy, mobility and the stadium itself.