How to solve
Urban Issues

A view into solutions for
an ever-expanding world

By Annet Kloprogge
Strategist at VBAT



Human population is growing like never before. We are now adding one billion people to the planet every 12 years. That’s about 220,000 per day.

This fact raises many questions.

How does that affect our quality of life?
How are we going to make that situation sustainable for our planet?
What will our cities look like in the future?
What solutions can we come up with for occurring problems?

During our Q&A session with Stefan Sagmeister on the 22nd of May at the What Design Can Do conference we have the opportunity to go into a deeper discussion and find solutions that fit this growing problem. Our focus will go out to solving urban problems that occur within Amsterdam, sustaining a stable future for our beautiful city while serving everyone’s needs.

Please let us know if you have any question or a design solution on the topic of Urban Issues for Stefan Sagmeister, by sharing it on Twitter with #asksagmeister.

Here are a few solutions that could help us make a sustainable future:

Powerwall by Tesla

A home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels and powers your home in the evening. Powerwall protects your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.

Tesla’s Powerwall

Be sure to check out Elon Musk’s presentation of Tesla’s Powerwall. It’s a short 20 minutes and can certainly teach a lot of Tech CEO’s on how to present a complicated product in a clear way.

Elon Musk presenting Tesla’s Powerwall

Global Childrens’ Designathon

A Designathon where children design their future cities, imagine sustainable solutions and build prototypes.

The brief: Design a Better City

“Ask a 10-year-old how to solve the problem of cleaning up trash, and you might end up with a concept like the “De-Waster 5000”, a helicopter that scoops plastic out of landfills and the ocean — and then uses a solar-powered flamethrower to melt the trash into beds for homeless people.” — Adele Peters

In other words, you’ll get something that probably wouldn’t occur to an adult designer.

The De-Waster was one of the prototypes created in the Global Childrens’ Designathon on November 15, which invited kids in five cities to spend a day designing solutions to improve food, waste, or mobility issues in their hometowns. (by FastCo)

Smart Trash Cans

The Enevo creates a system that makes trash collection easier and gets smarter over time, so it can create even more efficient trash collection systems.

It’s a useful logistics solution that saves time, money, and the environment. It uses wireless sensors to measure and forecast the fill-level of waste containers and generates smart collection plans using the most efficient schedules and routes.

The solution provides up to 50% in direct cost savings.

Using Uber Data

In Boston, Uber is sharing anonymous data about rides to help the city plan for better transportation.

The data is anonymous — the city won’t know anything about individual riders or the exact locations they travel. Instead, they’ll be looking at the broader patterns of where people go throughout the day, and since Uber has a massive volume of that data, it can yield useful insights about how the city might redesign roads or plan for new housing. (by FastCo)

“It allows us to look at the impacts growth, development, and changes to the transportation system can have.” —Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s CIO

Robotic Cycle Park

The bicycle is an easy-to-ride transportation medium to use. We, as Dutch people, have known this for decades. But in Japan they have recently discovered the vehicle, mostly because of its ‘no-emission’ benefits.

But Japan didn’t feel quite ready for the bicycle though. Biking paths are still not very popular and the Japanese do not appreciate others parking their bikes on the footpath in the urban areas.

The public opinion is that those parked bicycles would spoil surrounding sight and bother ambulance access and fire-fighting operations. It is considered to be a social problem.

Therefore, the Eco-cycle has been invented. It’s an underground parking lot. Giken developed the design concept of ‘Culture Aboveground, Function Underground’.

It eventually eliminates random parking near the footpaths. Such space can then be utilized for cultural activities. (by Giken)

Protecting Personal Space

It is a common fact that Asian societies value personal space less than other area’s. It is normal to stand extremely close to each other in the public transport facilities. This is something that our cultures have not been comfortable with.

But there’s a solution: the ‘Spider Dress’. A dynamic dress that protects your personal space.

As people approach, the wearer’s own breath will help to signal the defense posture of the robotic arms. The speed of the approach will also feed into defensive behavior; approach quickly and the arms will aggressively posture. Approach in a leisurely fashion and the arms will gently greet you.


Hopefully, you’ll feel inspired by these design solutions to Urban Issues and we’re looking forward to be seeing you at What Design Can Do on the 22nd of May.

Tickets can be found here: http://www.whatdesigncando.com/event/tickets/


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Annet is a Hyper Island alumni, currently living in Amsterdam and working as a Brand Strategist.
Also gives workshops in various creative methods, productivity & team development.