VINCI’s view on Smart City as partner within AiREAS

Doing smart things with data to allow people improve their lives….


VINCI is a French multinational that is cocreation for healthy city development partner in AiREAS for datacommunication, handling, storage and interfacing with the data users, through their subsiduary Axians.

Webconference with Italy

STIR Academy facilitates the interconnection of pioneers in Europe to share inspiration and develop local implementation. The Academy sets up interactive sessions using webinars, videoconference or skype. This avoids travel and makes interaction effective.

PLEF is an Italian foundation working on sustainable progress. We met in Italië the first time when both presidents were invited to participate in Ervin Laszlo’s attempt to create the Giordano Bruno University. The University did not get off the ground but relationships kept in contact to see if things would match.

PLEF became the STIR HUB in Italy.

This was the second encounter looking into air quality on cities. STIR Academy invited AiREAS and the ministery of health from Holland. PLEF invited ISTECH, a foundation dedicated to designing equipment that cleans air from pollution.


The AiREAS working concept was discussed for application in Milano, Rome or other city. The interest was captured when Jean-Paul explained that government is not in the lead but asked to facilitate with infrastructure and support. It is all about activating the local citizens, value creation, entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Dutch Ministry of Health presented the ISPEX, a small low cost add on device for i-Phone with which air quality can be measured through techniques used in astronomy. ISPEX is interested in doing a European measurement project in September and invited Italy to participate.

The Italian company ISTECH presented their air cleaning product called APA. It cleans 25 meters around the system and can be applied indoor and outdoor. During the discussion AiREAS proposed to see if the APA could interact with the ILM measurement network in Holland.

Nicolette is working with EU SMARTCITIES and proposed to Brussels to create multidisciplinairy tables on Februari 11 th during the following encounter. Healthy city was proposed as theme using the Sustainocratic format as used by AiREAS. EU reacted positively. Waiting for confirmation. It would be a good way to roll out proven innovations fast.

Important steps were made. Thanks STIR Academy. Next time new relations with connect around the same or other topics.

Commitment and commitment

History 2: Local AiREAS Eindhoven

With the start of Local AiREAS Eindhoven a few blocking issues came to the table that had to do with the legal structure of our democracy. First of all it concerned the formal membership of the city itself to its own Local AiREAS.

Legal impediments:

  • Government is needed in the context of AiREAS from a territorial point of view. We are going to deal with issues that involve usage of public resources and infrastructure. This needs to be coordinated and facilitated.
  • Also the local government is the formal tax authority that deals with the spending of the public money collected from the citizens.
  • From a legal point of view the government can invest in a venture through subsidies but cannot participate in the same because of its bureaucratic control responsibility.
  • From an AiREAS point of view the group cannot take responsibility for co-creation of a healthy city if the city governance is not participating.

The dilemma could only be solved by either setting AiREAS or the ruling laws aside. From a living lab point of view, calling it all an experiment, the setting aside of ruling laws became the option to be applied. If the precedent eventually would prove successful then legal measures could be taken on national level to facilitate value driven cocreation and government membership.

In a financially fragmented society responsibility is consequence driven

In a financially fragmented society responsibility is consequence driven

Financial impediments
When the Intelligent Measurement System (ILM) project was determined and defined, including the funding commitment from the government officials, a strange, new process started. The internal one within government to free the taxfunds.

  • The impediment was that a citizen’s initiative like AiREAS develops a complex humanitarian task of regional health that is considered a universal responsibility for sustainable progress above any economic and political consideration. Why then can a Local AiREAS not directly have access to the citizen’s taxed means? Simply because stuff like AiREAS did not exist yet. It’s the first.
  • Why does a complex humanitarian co-creation, directly involving the best experts available in the country or worldwide, need to be judged AGAIN for allocation of financial means by a group of civil servants and politically colored inexperienced citizens in the city council? It feel wicket and double
  • The acceptance of universal values of health and environmental harmony, which do have some legal backing in the original democratic system, tends to be made secondary to bureaucracy, money and money driven politics.
  • This is the type of immorality that is being challenged by global activists and United Nations. It would suggest the need for a system transformation that the system is not suited to do by itself. Structures like AiREAS then prove to be transformative as they function aside in a constructive way and point out the obstacles that need to be eliminated.

Those points cannot of course be solved immediately simply because they challenge the current democratic structure of our nation. It did show however how complex the global issue of air pollution and climate change is when dealing within the local political and economic context if it is anything else than based on sustainable human progress.

That is why AiREAS founder Jean-Paul Close decided to give the cocreation venture and new age democracy a different name: Sustainocracy, or “a democracy with a sustainable humanitarian purpose”. The process of AiREAS was published in his book in Dutch that appeared in autumn 2012 and in international scientific papers about “spirituality and ethics in economic systems”, one of which is being published by Springer scientific publisher in autumn 2014. The sustainocratic venture is also the basis of the transformation economy, an instrument to address the key complex hotspots in the world outside the fragmented economy of growth. The transformation economy feeds and repairs the old economy of growth with new market leadership instruments, creating a totally new economy and economic balance. Proof of this is rolling out of AiREAS in the course of 2014 and will show its effects in the next few years.

When dealing with the first Local AiREAS Project in Eindhoven the team was ready in January 2012 and it took until October 2012 to get the funding submitted to AiREAS. In between the government partner had to produce first a seperate internal file and go past all the internal departments to get approval. In AiREAS it was expected that the process would go much faster than it did. The leading Sustainocrat, Jean-Paul, planned a worldwide announcement in June 12. The 6 month time span, with a clear dot on the horizon was also necessary to keep the group together. A lot of work had been done, agreements thought to be committed, so frustration was growing about the time needed to get formally going. A formal announcement kept the group alive while government acted within its own complex constraints.

The moral complexity visualized

The moral complexity visualized

Start of Local AiREAS Eindhoven

History 1: Local AiREAS Eindhoven

AiREAS - Eindhoven

The first meeting of Local AiREAS Eindhoven took place at the city hall in September 2011. It was an open ended meeting where again all 4 pillars were invited. There were many people and disciplines with lots of commitment around the table. They relayed to the higher purpose of creating the healthy city of Eindhoven from an air quality point of view. But the expectation of each was still with the mentality of the old culture of financial dependencies and hierarchy.

From abstraction to concretion

Marco van Lochem and Jean-Paul Close

Marco van Lochem and Jean-Paul Close

The first multidisciplinary encounters of a Local AiREAS are chaotic, abstract and strange for all participants. Every one gets a chance to tell what brings them to the AiREAS table. Since the session is being chaired by an independent civilian all people at the table are asked to reason from equality, setting hierarchical positions and dominance aside as well as old age liability claims and reservations.

“We are here to take steps to create the first healthy city in the world and we all have valuable input to make it happen. No one is the boss, no one has the last word, we all bring in whatever we can and commit to that. If one does not have the authority to commit here at the table one should not be here”, were the words of initiator Jean-Paul Close after explaining the value driven structure of AiREAS.

The first step is to try to get a consensus around one project of common interest. The councilor commented that the city is being informed through reports of the national ministry for health and is asked to comply to norms that it cannot measure or see itself. There is little to no possibility for the local policy makers to produce their own feedback to their own actions.

Mary-Ann Schreurs (councilor, alderman) and  founder Jean-Paul Close

Mary-Ann Schreurs (councilor, alderman) and founder Jean-Paul Close

Making the invisible visible

To be able to work with air pollution and human health at citizen’s level we need to be able to measure as closely to where the citizens live and act themselves. The first project would have to make that possible. The argument that current measurement equipment was extremely expenses (about 100K€ per unit) had been an impediment before for governments to create a dense network. The challenge to produce low cost network fitted nicely with the high tech character of this city.

Three more meetings followed to further determine the desired characteristics of the system and measurement network. Key in the discussion was not just the low cost value but also the type of pollution to be measured, the intervals of measurement, the location of the equipment in the city, the communication network, database infrastructure, cross referencing with other databases, interpretation of data and presentation to the public.

The complexity was huge but perfectly possible to be dealt with because of the direct presence of knowledge. The project was lined out and valued with an investment plan. This ended up with a figure of about 1 Million euros. The government representative were involved in one of the most intense saving programs so every penny to be invested would have to be taken away from another program. This would be justifiable but not to the size of 1 Million. Concessions were made and multidisciplinary creativity finally got to the network of 32 measurement nodes to be produced by ECN of which 5 were equipped with an Ultra Fine Dust module that was handmade by Philips.

ICT experts defined the communication technology and data collection while scientists of different disciplines interacted to define the space modulation, geographical positioning of the equipment, expected potential of interpretation of the data for various health research objectives. Beginning of 2012 the project was defined, documented and commitments signed up of all the parties. The finance was established at 550K with a distribution of funding among the partners. Some offered value in hours and most physical money came from the local governance. This financial part was committed but needed still to be freed from the internal government processes and backed by the political structure of the city, the city council and all interacting internal lobbies.

The group was ready…but….