maandag 21 november 2016

9 Smart services, thanks to big data

The Brightlands Smart Services Campus at Heerlen (NL) has jumpstarted: 12 September 2016, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs officially opened the campus building. But what’s that: ‘smart services’?

Brightlands Smart Services Campus

Brightlands Smart Services Campus
In Limburg there are four Brightlands campuses where students, researchers, and entrepreneurs are working at the challenges modern society is facing.

Each campus has its own focus area:
  • Chemelot Campus at Sittard-Geleen: materials
  • Maastricht Health Campus: health
  • Campus Greenport Venlo: food
  • Smart Services Campus at Heerlen: smart services.
The Smart Services Campus is located in a completely renovated building, that was previously used by APG. Together with Maastricht University and the Province of Limburg, pension provider APG is the founder of the campus. The campus collaborates with renowned organizations, such as Accenture, Conclusion, KPN, BNY Mellon, Statistic Netherland (CBS), Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, the Dutch Open University, and TNO. Furthermore, smaller companies and start-ups are located there.

Smart services include:
  • Data Science: analyzing and utilizing large amounts of data
  • Service Design: developing services that recognize user needs by smart use of data
  • Social Impact: taking into account social aspects, such as privacy. These aspects are emphasized in training, and while setting up companies and developing services.
The general idea is that by analyzing large amounts of data the underlying context become visible and as a result better decisions can be made.

Now you probably comment: that’s very abstract. That’s why I give you nine examples of ‘smart services’.

1. Livehoods
With Livehoods ( you can literally map the movements of large groups, for instance the inhabitants of metropoles. It’s based on Foursquare, which people use to let their friends know what places they visit. This results in the ‘urban landscape’: where are the natural borders within a city. These borders do not necessarily have to fit with existing suburbs. Banks can better determine where to establish a branch. It also offers considerable potential to shops, health centers, and governments.

2. Smart traffic lights
Congestion of roadways leads to loss of valuable time and energy, and to additional emissions. Making traffic lights more intelligent can improve this situation. These kinds of systems use sensors that monitor the flow of traffic. In the United States these systems are expanded from small neighborhoods to cities, counties, and even whole states. This results in a better flow.

3. Smarter treatment of diseases
Analyzing the medical data of a large number of patients provides insight in the best treatment method for certain diseases. It becomes clear which (sequence of) treatments more often have a positive effect and which have more frequently a negative effect. As a result, medical practitioners move towards the best practice for a specific disease (technical term: ‘data-driven pathways’).

4. Climate control
The larger a building the more difficult the climate control. That’s why smart measurement systems are installed to help controlling the climate in such large buildings.

Dutch smartphone app Toogethr

5. Smarter commuting
At the busiest time of the morning rush hour, 2.4 million Dutchmen are en route. Most of them are sitting alone. By combining a large amount of data carpooling can be encouraged. For that purposed the smartphone app Toogethr was developed ( One traveler (the driver) offers a ride to another traveler (the passenger); travel expenses can be shared.

6. Smarter energy
Most owners of photovoltaic systems deliver an energy surplus to their power supplier. This can be different, i.e., by sharing the surplus directly with other energy users. Several smartphone apps have been developed for that, such as Powerpeers (

Dutch smartphone app Misnixx

7. Smarter neighborhood surveillance
An increasing number of smart systems becomes available that enable residents to supervise their neighborhood. Smartphone apps can be used to make users aware of shady dealings. For example, the Dutch initiative Buren-Alert has developed the MisNixx app and there is the Homies app with the slogan “Always somebody at home” (

Virtual Reality glasses

Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience

8. Virtual Reality
By combining visual material certain situations can be visualized in three dimensions. The viewer (with special glasses) feels like being transported to a completely different environment. This technique can be used for games, but is also very suitable for education and training. People learn better via simulation than by reading texts, as Edgar Dale has proved years ago. The degree of experience counts.

9. Blockchain
And finally I mention ‘blockchain’. This complex technology for instance enables the alternative currency bitcoins. Many data collections, such identity data, medical files, company data, Internet domains and patents, are kept by designated authorities – security is crucial. Blockchain is fundamentally different, because the database has no owner, just like the Internet has no owner. It’s about decentral and open networks. The user can only carry out transactions, for instance paying in bitcoins, in which case his balance is settled decentral. At Brightlands Smart Services Campus the potential of blockchain is subject of research.

The importance of smart services
Now you can easily image how important it is…
  • …to treat the use of large amounts of data scientifically
  • …to explore (and exploit) the virtual endless number of possibilities of using large amounts of data
  • …to be aware of the social impact of this.
All these three aspects can be found in the examples given above.

This is a repost of my (Dutch) September 19, 2016 post.
Read my May 20, 2013 blog post about the reason why of my English reposts.

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