Home / Industry / Infrastructure /  Smart cities need innovation, says Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan

New Delhi: Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan is leading a 60-strong delegation on a visit to India to discuss the new government’s plan to develop 100 smart cities, and other issues.

In 2013, a the Dutch ministry of infrastructure and environment and the Indian ministry of urban development signed an agreement on cooperation in sustainable building, water and waste management and transport in urban areas.

Laan, who has been the mayor of Amsterdam since 2010, spoke in an interview on smart cities and their development.

Smart cities are a fairly new concept for India. What are the key elements that India should be looking at?

It has to do with innovation, which has to do a lot, but not all the time with technology. Always try to stimulate people to think not just in terms of technology, it’s much more. It’s focusing on problems that need to be solved and cooperation. It is about cooperation. Beautiful solutions can come from the joining together of totally different forces. It’s amazing when you belong to different occupations, education—you can have a dialogue that is very fruitful because you bring in things the other wouldn’t think of. That can only happen when you are willing to cooperate.

How successful is the public-private partnership model in the implementation of smart cities?

The PPP model has been quite in fashion in the 80s and 90s of the last century. There were successes but also huge failures. You have to be empathetic when you want a public figure to make a new project with someone from the private sector and vice versa. You have to get to know each other to understand what to say. That was not the case in the early 80’s and the 90s.

Now circumstances have improved very much. It’s difficult to explain why the public and private sector came together more and more. One of the things is that the governments have withdrawn a bit. The Amsterdam smart city platform is also a PPP model. It is a very lucky one because the parties involved are very relevant to finding smart solutions in terms of electricity, telecom. It’s really funny to say but we don’t think of the others as a party from another sector, they’ve just got something we need to find the solution.

How do you see the change in administration in India and what it could do for the future ties between the two countries?

There is already a very good interaction because we are similar in many aspects and different in some. You are the biggest democracy. For us democracy is very important. In business you want to develop partnership and friendship, it is not just deals. It’s more than that. We are the same. The relationship was already very good.

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