Trip to Den Haag

In the beginning of March, a delegation from the Relink project group in Norway travelled to den Haag in Netherlands to meet with partners in the Rathenau Institute there. We met Dhoya Snijders from the Rathenau Institute in the morning of the 3rd of March at a café at the central station for coffee and breakfast. The first post on the itinerary was to visit a showcase smart apartment in a different part of the city. We all went together by tram to the apartment, which was located right next to a nursing and rehabilitation home. The apartment was the result of a project, iZi, and aimed at creating a smart home in which elderly could live healthy, independent lives, and to maintain contact with their relations and social surroundings, aided by technology. The website of the project can be found here (in Dutch). 

At the apartment we were greeted by representatives from the municipality, the project manager from the University of Leiden, and two senior ambassadors. The ambassadors were two elderly men who had tested the technology inside the apartment. They volunteered for the project to share their knowledge and experiences on the technology. We were given an introduction about the project and some results from the testing of the various devices inside the apartment. We were then divided into two groups and allocated an ambassador each. The ambassador took us around the apartment, demonstrating and talking about the various devices and technologies there. They were eager to talk to us and dished out their honest opinions about what they liked, what they did not like and what they had not tried themselves. 

Izi the smart apartment had many clever (and some cute) devices

After the smart home tour, we ate lunch at the cafeteria of the nursing and rehabilitation centre, Gulden Huis, which was attached to the building. 

We then travelled to the Rathenau Institute where we had a quick project meeting before joining their Tuesday seminar. The Rathenau Institute has seminars every Tuesday where they discuss topics and have presentations that are relevant for their work on technology assessment. Relink was the topic for this Tuesday. Ardis and Dag from SIFO, PhD candidates Cristina and Helene, OsloMet, and Joakim from the Norwegian Board of Technology held short presentations about different aspects of the project for the employees at Rathenau. We then divided into groups to discuss further the different aspects. Ardis and Dag’s presentations lay the foundation for discussion on the overall framework and quantitative methods, Cristina and Helene’s presentation introduced a discussion on qualitative methodologies, and Joakim’s presentation invited to discussion on scenario building, which is also one of Rathenau’s core activities. All the groups had lively discussions filled with idea exchanging, questions and suggestions. The session rounded off with plenary summaries from each group, and then some socializing with snacks and drinks before travelling back to Norway.

Since the trip in March, the Covid-19 virus has swept the world, resulting in shutdowns and social distancing many places. This has made the continuing work with Relink challenging, especially for the fieldwork progression. But we were lucky to have this experience and to have the impressions and inspiration we gathered from den Haag with us into this new work situation. 

Joakim Valevatn presenting at Rathenau’s tuesday seminar

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