Since the boardwalk was installed in 2018, the Marineterrein’s Voorwerf has become a very popular recreational destination in the heart of Amsterdam. During the summer, this public space can experience overcrowding with swimmers, sun bathers, and picnickers which create additional problems related to safe pedestrian passage, waste removal and noise pollution for the innovation district.

The smart cameras installed use camera vision technology that anonymously count the number of pedestrians, sunbathers, swimmers and night-swimmers (10pm-6am). In addition to generating valuable data about crowd volume and activity, this experiment aims to engage the public to start an open “data + dialogue” about issues related to smart cameras & CCTV, data protection & digital rights, and the role of living labs in Amsterdam.

This initiative is a private-public partnership with the Amsterdam CTO office as a pioneering experiment to use this new technology in an inclusive environment to help improve public services and safety in common spaces.

Project Partners

What’s Happening Here?

The quality and safety of public spaces is paramount concern to both the city and managers of the Marineterrein Amsterdam. During warmer periods, this area can experience various social, safety and health issues related to: pedestrian traffic, noise pollution, excess waste, swimming safety, exposure to waterborne bacteria and more. There are also a lack of amenities to accommodate the number of visitors like pop-up lavatories, waste bins, changing rooms and food & beverage kiosks. These crowd related challenges can create stress for the community at the terrain, businesses and neighbouring residential areas.

These problems need solutions so we asked the question:

“If we can’t measure it, how can we improve it?”

By utilising existing smart camera technology, CITIXL & Amsterdam CTO Office is working with the Marineterrein Amsterdam to effectively create data that will assist informed decisions to future-proof this unique city quarter. This pioneering experiment demonstrates Marineterrein Amsterdam as a real and vibrant open living lab.

How many Sunbathers?

The Smart Cameras will count the number of people occupying the boardwalks and quayside hourly (waters edge)

How many Swimmers?

The Smart Cameras will count the number of people entering the water as defined by the safe swimming zones

Drowning Alert!

The Smart Cameras will count the number of people entering the water after 10pm. 

Officially named the “Recreational Crowd Study” this experiment uses two smart cameras to count the number of people 1) occupying the boardwalk, 2) swimming, and 3) swimming at night. This applied research and the data it generates helps the project organisation monitor the volume, activity and safety of the public visiting the Voorwerf (front yard) while providing key insights to make informed choices for its future development in a more collaborative, open and inclusive exchange with the public.

The smart camera simply counts the number of people as pixelated bodies entering or occupying defined areas known as “events”. The total number of these events becomes visualised in the form of interactive data to be shared with the public so we can see how many people are using the space at any given hour, day, week or month. The data collected on the smart cameras is completely anonymous and we do not share any images of the study area.

Why Are We Doing This?

This living lab experiment isn’t just about counting people in public spaces. During this “learning by doing” process we are finding how easy it could be for anyone to conduct similar urban experiments which makes us pause and think: If these technologies continue to become more available and affordable, how can we use them safely, ethically and inclusively?

An exploratory data+dialogue with stakeholders leads us to explore how can better:

  • Learn how these technologies can become design tools to improve public space.
  • Identify and discuss the digital rights of citizens in public space.
  • Teach other districts or cities how to replicate and scale similar experiments safely and ethically
  • Help policy makers understand these new, off-the-shelf, technologies and the impact they have on our streets, sidewalks & parks

What are our values and principles?

To ensure inclusivity and ethical principles relating to data generation and use, the city of Amsterdam and CITIXL have embraced the Tada manifesto. The six values of Tada are leading our discussions around the values of the project and all parties involved uphold these values to ensure that any action concerning the project is reflected upon and measured against these ethical “data” values:

  • Inclusivity
  • Control
  • Tailored for the People
  • Open and Transparent
  • Legitimate and Monitored
  • By Everybody For Everybody

In order to make sure that these values lead the project in the right direction and inform responsible actions, we hold workshops to discuss the current state of the project, and formulate actions to improve how well the project scores against these values now and in the future.  We embrace the Tada principles to make open participation possible and involve residents in future projects.

For more information about how the Marineterrien is becoming an open inclusive Living Lab in the heart of Amsterdam, or if you would like to propose an experiment, please visit