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UNESCO recognises Rotterdam as a digital pioneer

UNESCO recognises Rotterdam as a digital pioneer

The city has just received the Linking Cities Award 2021 for its performance in datasphere

Rotterdam is the winner of the 2021 Linking Cities Award in datasphere (a term referring to the digital transformation, the creation, transmission and procession of data online). The second-largest Dutch city’s progress in the digital sphere impressed the jury at UNESCO Netexplo Forum held on 14-15 April 2021.

According to the judges, Rotterdam’s labs for testing ground-breaking innovations in areas such as climate change, food tech and medicine, as well as the way the city uses blockchain and data are unique on a European scale.

Rotterdam wants to become an exemplary digital city by 2025

On the city website, Rotterdam authorities point out one of the reasons for receiving the award - the '3D digital twin', a digital version of the city, in which, among other things, the infrastructure of the city is reflected. On 3drotterdam.nl everyone can download data files, perform measurements or walk through the platform and see, for example, what the shadow effect in a particular place looks like throughout the year.

According to Economy Alderman Roos Vermeij “The ambition is for Rotterdam to be a digital model city by 2025. A city that is at the forefront of the use of digital solutions for social, physical and economic challenges. Digitization helps us to achieve our ambitious goals in terms of sustainability, circularity and inclusivity”.

The authorities further point out to the fact that the Municipality works closely with companies, knowledge institutions, other authorities and residents for digitalisation. The condition that made this recognition possible was giving entrepreneurs the room to develop innovations while protecting the rights and interests of local residents so that everyone could benefit, and no one would be left behind.

The “linking cities” in 2021

The latter fits perfectly into the concept of a linking city, as defined by researchers at Netexplo - a global network and independent observatory of 19 universities, a partner of UNESCO since 2011.

They describe the linking city “as an organization of interactive links between all the various stakeholders turning the urban technological machine into a responsive, adaptive sociological ecosystem, which is therefore more viable and liveable.”

Netexplo studies the impact of digital tech on society and business and collects more than 2,000 innovations per year. Thus, the UNESCO Netexplo Linking Cities Forum 2021 shared only some of the best ones, implemented by cities all around the world that demonstrated how decision-makers were attempting to meet their citizens’ most urgent needs.

This week, a total of 10 awards were given in fields ranging from education through mobility to resilience. Other than Rotterdam, the only European city to receive an award was Berlin for its merits in creating a Transport network.

Discover the entire list of winners and an in-depth analysis on how they went from being a smart to a linking city, by downloading the free LINKING CITIES 2021 book on the Netexplo website.

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