- Enschede is an entrepreneurial knowledge city with a wide range of high-quality knowledge institutions and prominent companies focused on technology, innovation and creativity.
- This knowledge is translated into concrete and meaningful applications, such as the drones that are developed here. Twente is a testing ground for drones for a reason.
- Enschede’s Municipal Executive was the first in the Netherlands to set up an Ethics Committee in order to weigh up ethical dilemmas surrounding technology and data properly.
This development shows that drones are not just fun, flying cameras; they are serious tools with a multitude of applications in many various sectors. Other examples are inspecting bridges and roads without having to close them, checking crops in precision agriculture and detecting subversion in non-urban areas.
Economically speaking, we are talking about a sizeable market that will reach a size of over €100 million in the coming years, according to various studies. Therefore, it is a large market for high-tech products and services, which will be the foundation of a flourishing drone industry with high social added value.
The municipality of Enschede and the province of Overijssel, among others, have been working on an ecosystem for drone technology since 2016, in the Space53 drone innovation cluster in Enschede. The drone cluster is located on the Technology Base at Twente Airport, and it, therefore, has all the space it needs for developing, testing and using drones. Enschede does not only have Technology Base; it also has the Connect-U city campus and the Kennispark innovation campus. This creates a unique ecosystem where students, scientists and the business community can test their innovations in stages; from an isolated former military airport to a real-life environment on the campus and the Enschede city centre. This is how we work together on innovations with social impact.
Enschede is the first municipality in the Netherlands, and possibly all of Europe, to map drone traffic in the low airspace above the city with a drone radar. This work regarding drone technology has not gone unnoticed. The municipality received a 1.3 million subsidy from the European Union as project leader of ‘Aerial Uptake’, the European drone project, to stimulate the development and application of new drone technologies. The project should show how the airspace can be made safe and suitable for and with drones. The collected data will help with formulating good policies for recreational and commercial use of drones in cities. Because of the international approach, policies can be implemented locally, nationally and at a European level, to stimulate innovations, create a level playing field, and establish interconnected airspace for the European drone sector.
Anyone can see the technological added value of drones when they are used for inspecting bridges, precision agriculture and dealing with subversion in non-urban areas. When it comes to delivering packages with drones, or transporting freight or people between and within cities, however, concerns arise about privacy, peace and safety. Enschede takes these concerns seriously because social acceptance is essential if drone technology is to fulfil its promise.
Reliability and integrity are crucial for government organisations. We deal with data and technology in a socially responsible way, as the European drone capital. This is because you have to be aware of the impact that data and technology have on your inhabitants, when using such technology in your city. We want innovations to contribute to the quality of life in the city. This is a complicated subject because it involves many different interests.
Enschede’s Municipal Executive was the first in the Netherlands to set up an Ethics Committee to weigh up ethical dilemmas surrounding technology and data properly. They will help the board in concrete cases – such as the use of drones – to consider values such as privacy, justice and autonomy as an independent sounding board. Members will look at the perspective of the technology, the user and the context. They will also look at the effectiveness of the technologies. The committee members’ main task is helping the municipality of Enschede with deciding what is decent, morally and ethically acceptable.
The Ethics Committee is not only involved with drones, but with all ethical dilemmas in which technology plays a role. Should we use the heat scans that we have for climate statements to track down hemp growers? What are the ethical limits of using algorithms? Enschede lives by the approach of its university: High Tech, Human Touch.
Enschede is proud to be part of the national smart city deal network concerning ethics. This network of governments, cities, and social institutions aims to boost innovation and improve Dutch cities' quality of life. Together, we work on innovative solutions for social issues and on measures to strengthen the economic ecosystem of urban regions. All these developments do beg the question of whether all these applications are ethically justified. Enschede is happy to contribute to this!
Date: 26 January 2021 |
Source of tekst: Gemeente Enschede |