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Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen and Cisco's Nicola Villa on Sustainability and Connected Urban Development

June 5, 2007

It is a very short week which could mean a lot for a long time to come.

Amsterdam's Sustainability Week, actually lasting just four days from June 2 to June 5, has been designed to bring together government, the private sector, academics and citizens in general to focus on one of the most pressing issues of our time: creating a sustainable future.

As a major sponsor of the event, through its involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Cisco Systems, Inc, is lending its support by hosting a sustainability event for around 300 heads of industry, to complement the tens of other events happening around the city.

The event is being coordinated by Nicola Villa of the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) and features a keynote speech by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen. Both took time out to talk to News@Cisco about the event and the role that IT can play in sustainability.

How does Amsterdam hope to contribute to the debate on sustainability?

Job Cohen: Being chosen by Cisco as part of their Connected Urban Development commitment in sponsorship of the Clinton Global Initiative, we are excited to be one of three cities in promoting sustainability by manifesting concrete projects. We hope, with the help of Cisco, to be exemplary for many other cities in the world.

How is Cisco supporting the Sustainability Week activities in Amsterdam?

Nicola Villa: Our main contribution has been to organize a large IT and sustainable development event on the afternoon of June 5, including keynote speeches by representatives from Cisco, the City of Amsterdam and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition at the event, we have organized four interactive workshops covering topics which Cisco and the Amsterdam Municipality are currently focusing on.

These topics are sustainability and information and communications technology (ICT) in homes, the Connected Real Estate for sustainable development, ICT and transport policy for emissions reduction, and the Green Data Center.

The event closes with a TelePresence session between Mayor Cohen in Amsterdam and John Needham, Chief Executive Officer of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

What role can ICT play in promoting green, more carbon-efficient ways of living and working?

Job Cohen: Because of our carbon-fiber network, we are able to diminish the need for transportation and therefore create more efficient and thus 'greener' ways with regard to our working processes.

What is the Connected Urban Development Initiative?

Nicola Villa: The Connected Urban Development initiative aims to create an urban communications infrastructure that makes the flow of information, knowledge, people and traffic more efficient, which in turn enhances how people experience life in and around cities.

Through the innovative use of ICT, cities can improve energy efficiency; reduce carbon emissions from cars, trains, buses, and other forms of transportation; and enhance urban design and management.

The CGI cities of Amsterdam, Seoul and San Francisco are currently piloting Cisco's Connected Urban Development initiative.

How important is it for the public and private sectors to collaborate in searching for ways to combat climate change?

Job Cohen: Since climate change concerns us all, the collaboration of both the public and private sector is an absolute necessity. A global problem can only be challenged when thoughts and ideas are united, not divided.

Why is Cisco interested in Connected Urban Development and how much is it investing?

Nicola Villa: We believe the movement of people and traffic within and across cities can be as efficient as the movement of traffic on the Internet.

Understanding the potential and capabilities the network as a platform has to change the way people work, live, play and learn, opens the possibilities for solving this problem in innovative, effective and greatly scaleable ways.

Cisco is investing USD$15 million in people, research, and equipment over the next five years to pilot this initiative. The investment will include five people from IBSG, as well as a series of research investments and product donations to help design the cities of the future.

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