Shaping future cities with Intelligent Things

Thursday 10 December; 11:00-12:30

Session to dive into the theme Cities of Things and discussing ingredients of a future field lab

With the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) combined with IoT (internet of things), the concept of what is a “thing” shifts from passive artifact to an active partner. Capable to perform tasks and make judgments, Things increasingly “work with us” to produce positive change in everyday life. The research program Cities of Things started in 2018 as a Delft Design Lab at faculty of Industrial Design Engineering Delft. The research has a focus on this changing relationship with intelligent things. Things that are services in the core. Things that are citizens. We build new knowledge through research projects and prototyping new products and services.

(image by Maria Luce Lupetti for paper on Near Future Cities of Things

The cities of Amsterdam and Munich have the intention to extend an earlier collaboration by setting up so-called “field labs”  where businesses and knowledge institutions effectively develop, test and implement smart industry solutions. Another element that will be explored entails the necessary urban/regional infrastructure for creativity and innovation based on reciprocity. Creative Holland and partners in Munich worked together to identify several high-opportunity themes for the field labs, which can be elaborated. One of the field labs will be on Cities of Things.

Cities of Things is aiming for the establishment of a field lab in 2021 and like to discuss the requirements with practitioners and industry. The concept of the Cities of Things field lab builds on the experience and network of existing, successful field labs and capitalises on this relationship. How new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with the Internet of Things (IoT) will become part of everyday urban life. The creative industry will help find solutions for the increasing influence that technology has on people, organisations and society as a whole.

In the session at ThingsCon we like to share the state of  the research we did on cities of things in the last years and we shaped some possible futures that can inspire and kickstart the shaping of an agenda for the field lab. We will zoom in on a couple of themes we like to link to the cities of things; sustainability and energy, mobility, the built environment, fashion, and discuss in smaller groups the agenda for the field lab.

The preliminary program of the session:

11:00 – opening and background of Cities of Things with all participants
11:10 – presenting design fictions of 2 of 3 themes (all participants)
11:25 – short break and divide into break-out rooms
11:30 – break-out room per theme: introduction of participants and sharing impressions of the theme, discussing the design fiction
11:50 – break
12:00 – second round in break-out rooms: formulate first agenda; questions or projects that should be part of the field lab
12:15 – back in the room with all, sharing the agendas 
12:25 closing of the session, follow-up

This session is organised by Iskander Smit, Eva van der Born, David Valentine, and Mareile Zuber


Shape the Trust Toolkit

Thursday 10 December; 15:30-17:00

August 27 a number of experts and practitioners joined the online collaborative workshop (designed in Miro) to kick-off a series of discussions around the frameworks and requirements for more acceptable technology, data, identity, and privacy practices.

This series continued with 3 more open invitation workshops enabling a deeper dive into each step of the flow from the “Code of Trust” and “Trust by Design” to the “Trust Toolkit”. The output will be further presented and discussed during this seminar and workshop where we will further evaluate the different roles and technical possibilities available to start rebuilding trust in the technology business.

The session will be hosted by Lorna Goulden. We invited Kai Hermsen and Peter Bihr to reflect on the results.

Kai Hermsen

Kai is an expert in digital transformation, cybersecurity, trust in digital technologies, and leadership within this space. 

For technology to serve its purpose, he believes trust in tech is a prerequisite. Kai makes technical topics relatable through storytelling and sharing his expertise. He believes all people need to understand current digital topics and how they impact their lives, to enable democratic decision-making and good stewardship of our societies. He also loves to engage in the conversation and be inspired by other leading personalities within this space, learning a bit more every day. 

At Siemens, he demonstrates in practice how to transform and build trust through leading the “Charter of Trust”, a global initiative of 17 Fortune 500 companies collaborating to strengthen security of the digital space. Kai is also co-founding the TWINDS foundation aiming at rethinking digital identities and collaboratively demonstrating technical solutions to make our digital world more trustworthy. 

As a father of two, he is passionate about finding balance in life as the only way to fuel our best work and most rewarding personal lives. 

Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr co-founded and chairs the board of ThingsCon.  Peter is the founder and Managing Director of The Waving Cat, a boutique research, strategy & foresight company. He explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. Peter is a Mozilla Fellow (2018-19) and Edgeryders Fellow (2019), and Postscapes named him a Top 20 Influencer in IoT (2019).

Lorna Goulden

Lorna has 20+ years’ experience working across industries from smart city developments to customer-centric digital innovations, with particular focus on the impact on society. She organizes the Eindhoven Internet of Things Meetup and is a UX team lead and Steering Group member of a non-profit foundation developing an SDK for decentralized identity+data as a foundation for COVID19 applications.


From Good Things to Good Systems – The Shift in Design.

Wednesday 9 December; 11:00-12:30

The role of design has changed repeatedly over the past decades. From artistic craftsmanship to the support of industrial production, to user-centred design, the field of activity has grown from designing objects to shaping processes and interactions.
Today, current design research is once again concerned with the question of which topics design should address in order to shape the future. The landscape ranges from “Beyond User Centred Design” with a focus to a live in networks supported by technology, to “Social Design“ with a focus to the cohesion of global or local social communities, to the care for the livelihood of our planet which we destroy in the Antropocene.
Many new terms are currently circulating again for topics that design should address. They all seem to be similar in two things: 1. A broader view of problems and solutions that as result requires more than a product or service for a consumer. 2. A systemic approach.


In the session we will …

  • sketch the landscape of currently discussed design approaches.
  • question and discuss some of the design approaches with experts and our participants
  • finding out what the red thread for design is in the new approaches

Look forward to discussing it with our lovely guests:

Sarah Gold, projectsbyif
Elisa Giaccardi, TU Delft
Heather Wiltse, Umeå University
Elise Marcus, Mother Earth Network
Max Brandl, The Butterfly In The Room
Philipp Kaltofen, The Butterfly In The Room


Rural Mobility

Wednesday 9 December; 13:30-15:00

Rural Mobility

New mobility products and services for cities are launched (and disappear) every few months. But since 41% of Europe’s population is living in cities, what about the countryside and towns where more than half of people live?

In this session we want to travel the countryside and together explore what mobility habits, developments and opportunities can be found there.

Learn from experts

For this 90 minutes session, we invited a small group of experts to share their knowledge on rural mobility:

Stefan Zoll, Ioki will talk about Connecting the country to the city with the help of algorithms

Mathias Großklaus, neuland21 will talk about the why mobility is such an important part of their vision for a future country side

Lieke Ypma, – Mobility in life contexts / people-centred mobility – will talk about Life changing situations and triggers for mobility behaviour change

Ideate to facilitate behaviour change

These short presentations will provide inspiration for all of us to ideate on how we can make (future) rural mobility to be more inclusive and sustainable. The focus will be on how people can best be supported to change their mobility behaviour.

We look forward to seeing you in the session,
Pieter Diepenmaat & Andrea Krajewski


Better connected cities

Wednesday 9 December; 9:00-10:30

We love a good city. But what does that mean? What makes cities livable? Since we’re at ThingsCon: What roles do technology and data play? What are the interrelations between data, governance, policy, and quality of life? How can we make sure that as cities get more connected, citizen (not vendors) are front and center?

The Better Connected Cities session will be an informal, open and safe space to explore these questions together. Capped at around 30 participants, this session will last a total of 90 minutes and consist of two parts: Two brief opening conversations between up to 3 experts will set the stage and tone, followed by an active group discussion.

As topical “flag poles”, we think of these areas as particularly worth exploring in our conversation:

  • Equity & Fairness
  • Policy & Governance
  • Data & Power Dynamics
  • Resilience & Participation
  • Diversity & Inclusion

This session will be hosted by Simon Höher (ThingsCon, Hybrid City Lab) and Peter Bihr (ThingsCon, The Waving Cat, Berlin institute for smart cities and civil rights).

We will have introducing presentations by Usman Haque and Maaike Harbers.

Maaike Harbers

Maaike Harbers is a professor of applied sciences in Artificial Intelligence & Society at Research Center Creating 010 at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Her work focuses on the ethical and societal implications of artificial intelligence, and she researches how designers of AI-applications can account for the implications of their concepts on human values, like privacy, freedom and equity. Maaike Harbers holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, and a MA in Philosophy.

Usman Haque

Usman Haque is founding partner and creative director of Umbrellium, designing and building urban technologies that support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities; and a search engine for the Internet of Things. Earlier, he launched the Internet of Things data infrastructure and community platform, which was acquired by LogMeIn in 2011. Trained as an architect, he has created responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives throughout the world. His skills include the design and engineering of both physical spaces and the software and systems that bring them to life. He has also taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture, including the Interactive Architecture Workshop (until 2005) and RC12 Urban Design cluster, “Participatory systems for networked urban environments”. He received the 2008 Design of the Year Award (interactive) from the Design Museum, UK, a 2009 World Technology Award (art), the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence prize and the Asia Digital Art Award Grand Prize. • •

Simon Höher

Lead Public Design zero360 Simon heads the Hybrid City Lab, the public design unit of Berlin-based innovation firm zero360. Since 2014 he co-chairs ThingsCon. In his work, he explores systemic concepts of technology, culture, and society in a global context. As a serial entrepreneur and strategy consultant, he works with organizations to co-create their future, fosters connections between people, ideas, and products. 

Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr co-founded and chairs the board of ThingsCon. Peter is the founder and Managing Director of The Waving Cat, a boutique research, strategy & foresight company. He explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. Peter is a Mozilla Fellow (2018-19) and Edgeryders Fellow (2019), and Postscapes named him a Top 20 Influencer in IoT (2019).