What: policy orienting document

Impact score: 3

For who: Government, business, non-profit organisations, citizens


Agenda AI

AI Technology for the People

The city of Amsterdam has developed two strategic visions on AI. The first strategy focuses solely on the municipal services and how they want to use AI in function of Amsterdam residents. The other vision, AI Technology for the People, was developed together with and for local knowledge institutions and businesses. Amsterdam aims to be a leader in stimulating the development and use of AI at the local level.

The municipal strategy aims to:

  • Using AI for city challenges
  • Positioning and stimulating AI and Amsterdam to exploit its economic potential
  • Establishing ethical frameworks

The city government has four roles to play according to the vision, namely as a user of technology, as a stimulator, as a referee who assesses the ethical considerations and as as an ambassador who makes sure that frameworks and rules have an effect not only locally but also nationally and across the borders. From these roles, the ambitions and goals of the AI agenda are worked out into activities.

  1. Making AI work for Amsterdam residents (applying AI in the municipality's processes, strengthening cooperation, developing competencies in local government)
  1. Positioning and stimulating the city (developing an ecosystem and recruiting talent)
  1. Digital rights (protecting digital rights and creating more equal opportunities in Amsterdam algorithms)
  1. Preconditions: availability of data for the city

Amsterdam sees itself as a living lab, the city as user and developer of concrete applications that lead to added value for the inhabitants of the city.

In terms of working methods, city challenges and issues were identified, and this was used to formulate ambitions (e.g., a lot of software used by the city is outdated, the ambition is to invest in knowledge about AI in different services).

Amsterdam can already rely on a good ecosystem. Various top knowledge institutions (ICAI & CWI) and companies like Google Brain and Adyen are located here and reputable conferences like the World Summit for AI and the Amsterdam AI Coalition take place here. The city government wants to strengthen this ecosystem in a sustainable way.

AI Technology for the People

AI Technology for People is a collaboration between the Amsterdam Economic Board, The Amsterdam UMC hospital, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, The City of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Sanquin, the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. It represents the scientific and innovation ecosystem of the city.

The hub’s focus centres on three topics that all have a major impact on the daily lives of citizens and the socioeconomic development of the region: AI for Health, AI for Business Innovation and AI for Citizens. The starting point of this program is an integrated people-oriented approach throughout the entire chain in the Amsterdam metropolitan region: ‘Amsterdam as a living lab’. The initiative encourages collaboration with leading institutions around the world, as well as public partners and members of the business community.


Amsterdam knows that in order to realize its ambition as an AI city, it must also focus on facilitating a good data ecosystem. Therefore, it wants to increase the usability, availability, and value of public data. The exact plan of action is described in the digital plan Administrative task I-domain.

The same objective is pursued with scientific and business data. The strategy foresees

  • the establishment of a public-private data sharing platform
  • Actions to encourage data sharing within sectors, such as life science and health and mobility
  • The use of data commons, regulation and procurement to make data about the city available for the city

Amsterdam is closely following the developments surrounding the legislative activities of the European Commission's data strategy. It wants to be as well prepared as possible for the future European single data market in order to create opportunities for businesses.


An investment is anticipated in technical infrastructure that has to support data acquisition, the preparation of data for use, new techniques for machine learning, access to hardware and computing power and knowledge representation.


The city strongly believes in the use of algorithms in public services. This ambition must be accompanied by a coherent and transparent algorithm policy. This policy includes:

  • A clear overview for internal use that indicates which algorithms are in use
  • A public algorithm register (for citizens) that indicates which algorithms the municipality uses and what their function is
  • In the development of algorithms by the public services, objection procedures accessible for citizens and participation processes will be part of the trajectory
  • Standard Clauses for the procurement of Trustworthy Algorithmic Systems for algorithms purchased from external businesses. The clauses describe which information the supplier needs to provide.

A civic AI lab has been set up. The aim of the Lab is to carry out research on how AI can

counteract or prevent inequality in the city or prevent AI from increasing inequality.



The city does not want to become too dependent on external suppliers when implementing AI and therefore plans to invest in its own internal AI team. At the moment, the current team can already develop AI (small-scale) prototypes. The ambition is to grow the team in terms of expertise and skills, with the help of local knowledge institutions, so that they can take on larger assignments.

The legal, procurement and auditing services will have to take refresher courses to better understand the context of AI applications. Furthermore, every official must take the National AI course.


The city also wants to closely involve the tech community in developing AI for Amsterdam. Therefore, it regularly develops challenges and competitions that are shared in the community. An example of this is a challenge in which participants must develop a machine learning model that can automatically predict the rental price of an Airbnb stay (Kaggle or PyData).

Amsterdam wants to focus strongly on strengthening its ecosystem (investors, talent, research institutions and the business community). A business- and innovation-friendly climate must be created. It wants:

  • Facilitate knowledge sharing on AI
  • Stimulate Community building. A first example of this is the Smart Health Amsterdam network
  • Focus on attracting and developing AI talent
  • Create support for AI startups, including for their international scale-up


The city has the ambition, together with other domestic organisations, to put the Netherlands on the map as an AI frontrunner. But it would also like to promote itself as an AI city. Together with knowledge institutions, businesses and the national government, it aims to become one of the most important AI cities in Europe. Amsterdam's AI values should inspire other parts of the country (for example with the Tada Manifest and the AI working group in the public sector of the NL AI coalition) and have an impact on European policy. It uses various lobbying forums to do so.

One of those forums is the coalition ‘Cities for Digital Rights’, of which Amsterdam is one of the founding members (see also Barcelona). Together, they have already drafted a manifesto. It also participates in the European project AI4Cities, a three-year EU-funded project bringing together leading European cities looking for AI solutions to accelerate carbon neutrality (mobility & energy).

What exactly do the values of Amsterdam mean? For example, the city wants to keep a close eye on imported AI applications from outside the EU. Amsterdam wants to prevent that the imposed values reflected in these applications (of foreign companies) will be taken over here. It also wants to prevent new forms of poverty and exclusion from arising in ten years' time due to the use of AI, or avoid any negative impact that disrupts the living, working or recreational climate in the city of Amsterdam.

When implementing AI in public services, it puts inclusiveness, citizen participation, human-centred focused design and transparency at the heart of the process. To put this into practice, the city of Amsterdam and multiple public organisations, businesses, NGO’s and knowledge institutions want to build a network to develop competitive projects and generate funding in the field of AI and public services. The starting point is to strengthen and scale up existing consortia (the cultural AI-lab, the civic AI-lab, the AI Media & Democracy lab and the Responsible AI lab).

On the business side, the city will adopt a passive attitude towards (large) tech companies that want to establish themselves in the city. It wants limit regulation to a minimum in order to project a business-friendly image.

To conclude, Amsterdam also wants to play an influential role in the field of AI and healthcare in the long term. The city and the region have a lot of expertise in the field of data collection and analysis as well as in a number of medical fields. The underlying strategy is to become a hub that combines life science and data science.