City of Eindhoven creates continuous smart city innovations

The Netherlands, especially Eindhoven, features in the top of most entrepreneur, technology, and innovation rankings worldwide. Not only are its companies and universities successful in innovation, but also the municipality of Eindhoven is an exemplar for other cities. A team of researchers – Kati Brock and Elke Den Ouden from Eindhoven University of Technology, and Ralf Voncken and Kees Van Der Klauw from Philips Lighting – look at how public lighting in the city provides a leading case of how to use infrastructure in a smarter way to go beyond illumination within an urban context.

Rome was not built in a day, and neither are smart cities.

By 2050, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, creating both challenges and opportunities for municipalities and industries, leading to a widespread debate about the future of cities. Digital technology functions as a catalyst for urban transformation promising more efficient, livable, ‘smart’ cities that improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors by implementing smart solutions.

The rules of the game are changing with many new actors from different disciplines entering the market, while regulations are overturned. Moreover, the path towards the future of smart cities is uncertain, as we do not yet know what an actual smart city looks like, beyond the pilot projects currently being tested. Important aspects like privacy and ethics in data-driven solutions are still under discussion, and lead to ongoing adaptations of these rules and regulations.

The traditional approach doesn’t work

Indeed, we see that the traditional public lighting procurement approach does not consider the ongoing societal and technological evolution and its accompanying challenges. Traditionally, a public lighting procurement procedure would publish strict product and technology specifications for companies to follow. With this approach there is no room for collaboration and innovation.

To be successful in smart cities both the procurement approach as well as the current business models need to change drastically. The city of Eindhoven is an exemplar case of how to take a non-traditional public lighting procurement approach by leveraging the public lighting infrastructure to go beyond illumination moving towards smart cities.

From the start, the municipality stated that the ultimate goal is to improve quality of life through continuous innovation in lighting and smart city applications. Central to realizing this goal is connected lighting and a smart lighting grid.

Besides energy savings, connected lighting will provide the city infrastructure that makes it possible to create a dense network of sensors and actuators, meaning a smart lighting grid on which the smart city services can be based. Meanwhile, public lighting is closely interwoven with Eindhoven’s identity and character as the ‘city of light’.

Together with the Eindhoven University of Technology, the municipality of Eindhoven created a roadmap for public lighting in Eindhoven for 2030 – a shared vision for the bright future of Eindhoven that provided the basis for the procurement process (see below).

Vision and roadmap for urban lighting 

Working together for innovation

Philips Lighting, together with its consortium partner Heijmans, went into an open dialog with the municipality to define how to make the roadmap and vision reality. More specifically, Philips Lighting, Heijmans and the university designed the Smart City Continuous Innovation Process (SCCIP), a long-term process that will enable continuous innovation in Eindhoven.

The citizens of Eindhoven are central to this innovation process, and their needs form the starting point for any smart lighting or smart city application. Within this process four key stakeholders: the municipality, businesses, citizens and knowledge institutions collaborate in creating, developing and realizing smart city opportunities (see below).

All in all, we see that the Eindhoven case is not one of a kind. Many other municipalities worldwide feel limited by the current product-oriented procurement procedures and traditional product business models of companies. Municipalities are, therefore, challenging businesses and other stakeholders to go beyond products by leveraging their technological knowledge to create and deliver smart city services that will improve the quality of life in their respective city.

At TM Forum Live! (May 15-18, Nice, France), Kees van der Klauw will give a presentation on ‘Establishing real open innovation and collaboration’ and take part in a panel debate on ‘Drivers and barriers to IoE innovation’. Find out more at


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