Cities are the hubs of civilization, where ideas, objects, and values are traded and exchanged.
Humanity thrives and flows through here. Through economic and life cycles, some will stay here and for some the journey will take them elsewhere. Urban life is shaped by these flows. Who has? Who seeks? Where do they meet? What comes next? In cities especially there is little stasis, as change is constant.
Cities compete in the world market place, and they also create synergy between them. New York, Stamford, and Boston are each an independent financial hub in the global market, but their economies are also linked. For Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Eindhoven it is also true: the economies may have different components, but they are also interconnected.
You are on the verge of a three day program focused on the concept of ‘Smart Cities’. Your laboratory for these days is the city that never sleeps: New York. It is my pleasure to welcome you to New York for Smart Cities NYC 2018.
Our focus these days will be innovation, mobility, and circularity. Are we ‘Smart’ enough to compete and to add value? Are we getting out what we put in? Are we harvesting every re-usable resource? Are we taking ‘externalities’, once cast off by economists as incidental byproducts, and instead finding ways to make them inflows? Of course, the Dutch are leaders in these areas, and in many others. But a smart society is more than just the best available technology, seamless transactions, and improved efficiency. A smart society also accepts that we have much, much to learn.
Smart Cities must provide services for all citizens, and not simply to those who can purchase or procure. We also have to make our cities the canvas, available to host other works. For Smart Cities 2018 we are excited to deal with the challenges cities offer to all of us. Through your participation, we look forward to making our own contributions to these discussions and demonstrations.
In addition to our participants representing government, business, and knowledge, we welcome a host of startup and young companies to this week’s program. Together we will explore the ins and outs of the New York and U.S. market place by pitching to investors and learning from experts in a variety of fields.
Civilization can thrive when the fabric of society becomes stronger, woven together. Therefore, let us transform the lasting impressions of the coming days into lasting connections we can cultivate into the future. The Smart City is taking shape before us. We owe it to future generations to contribute what we know already and commit to seeking new solutions together. From our heritage, we have a world of experience to offer. The challenges are many and great – so let us get to work.
Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York