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Traffic noise

In response to complaints and petitions from residents, Amsterdam has asked TNO to analyse traffic noise. TNO used a combination of noise level meters and cameras, using automatic license plate recognition to look up vehicle types. They found that over one in twenty motor bikes produced over 83 dB(A), the threshold used to identify ‘loud events’. In many cases, noise was caused by riding behaviour or tinkering with the vehicle.

At present, it’s not yet possible to automatically fine loud vehicles in a way comparable to automated speed limit enforcement. TNO suggests other measures, including expanding 30 km/h zones and introducing local traffic bans for loud vehicles and vehicles with a history of tinkering or traffic violations.

Bike share

I have analysed the network of bicycle racks allocated to ‘bike share’ operators in Amsterdam. Most of these racks are located on major bicycle routes and near public transport stops. However, it’s doubtful whether the system is economically viable in its current form: operators will likely ask for (far) more bicycle racks and perhaps also for subsidies.

Map and explanation here; full analysis in the latest edition of OEK (in Dutch, pdf), the member magazine of the Amsterdam branch of cyclists’ organisation Fietsersbond.

Neighbourhood names

As of 24 March, the municipalities of Amsterdam and Weesp have merged. As a result, the city now has 110 wijken and 518 buurten. These neighbourhoods have no administrative status, but are used for statistical purposes. While there’s a policy to keep neighbourhood boundaries constant as much as possible, some changes have been implemented, partly because of new residential areas that are being constructed and as a result of splitting up existing neighbourhoods.

In addition, some minor changes have been applied to neighbourhood names to comply with the guidelines of the unofficial language authority Genootschap Onze Taal (e.g. Grachtengordel Zuid became Grachtengordel-Zuid). Perhaps more importantly, the neighbourhood codes have changed (a conversion table is available from the city’s research department OIS). A nice aspect is that identical codes will be used by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Open data

Slow implementation of open data directive

The EU has criticized the Netherlands and other countries for failing to implement the open data directive, which was due 17 July last year. The government blames the delay on ‘prioritizing covid-19 legislation and lack of capacity’. Among other things, the directive requires that dynamic government data is made available throug APIs.

Note that the EU has been criticised itself for its slowness in adopting an Implementing Act, which will specify how company registers must be opened up.

Also note that the EU is framing its open data directive mainly as a business opportunity, rather than a transparency issue: «This will reduce barriers to market entry for SMEs through reduced costs for data re-use, make more data available and increase business opportunities through data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs).»


Wildcat strikes mapped

On 29 April 1943, wildcat strikes broke out in the Netherlands against the Nazi occupation. In a study for the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, P.J. Bouman published a series of strike density maps showing how strike activity evolved over the following days.

Traffic flow map

Charles-Joseph Minard is often credited with inventing the traffic flow map, on which the width of lines represents the volume of traffic along a route. While Minard experimented with this type of map in the late 19th century, it has now been claimed that a salt trade flow map of Hungary was published as early as 1773 (via).


‘Municipalities get away with privacy violations’

For seven years, the city of Dronten has made video recordings of conversations with welfare recipients. After being contacted by the Data Protection Authority (AP), the city ended the practice. The AP decided not to investigate a complaint filed by trade union FNV, citing a lack of resources.

According to FNV’s Maureen van der Pligt, «it’s simply inconceivable that such practices go unpunished. The government should protect its citizens.» Van der Pligt points out that this is the third complaint from FNV against a municipality that the AP fails to investigate. «Not only should the Dronten Municipality have been punished; the AP should also have communicated to social security institutions that this is unacceptable.»

Social tensions data

At the request of the police and the Ministry of Justice and Security, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) plans to produce statistics on social tensions. CBS has created a list of terms associated with tensions and unrest, and calculates what share of Dutch-language tweets contain these terms. Hopefully they will publish the list of terms, so that it will be transparent which criteria are used to interpret events as social tensions.

In a pilot, CBS associated a rise in social tensions after 2017 with issues like the deportation of teenage refugees; debates about blackface; expanding the powers of intelligence services and privacy legislation. There were peaks associated with terrorist attacks and the disruption of Remembrance Day on 4 May 2010.

Twitter alternative

With Musk taking over Twitter, I’ve activated my account on Mastodon, an open-source Twitter alternative: If you’re also on Mastodon (or if you know a better Twitter alternative), let me know. And if you wonder how it works, this may be helpful.

Meanwhile, the European Data Protection Supervisor launched their own Mastodon server (via). A problem of Mastodon has always been that people are hesitant to move there because too few people are using it in the first place. Perhaps EU endorsement will make a difference.