Netherlands remains a digital frontrunner in the EU

In another endorsement of Amsterdam’s digital leadership, the city was voted second out of 30 global cities surveyed in a report by Economist Impact. The Digital Cities Index assessed candidates on the extent and impact of digitalisation and smart city projects, according to four key pillars: services (from e-government to healthcare, retail and finance), connectivity (digital infrastructure and access to affordable, quality internet), culture (fostering innovation, public engagement and digital inclusion) and sustainability (management of efficiency, emissions, pollution and circular economies).

A leader in digital services

Among the four pillars, Amsterdam ranked highest (4th) for services. The report specifically singles out Amsterdam’s traffic management system, enabled by the IoT (Internet of Things) – praising its applications for congestion easing, accident reduction and emissions control.

The report also compliments Amsterdam’s provision for services in the sharing economy, thanks to innovative businesses such as Peerby and the many smart mobility and vehicle-sharing startups based in the city.

City of connectivity

Further boosting Amsterdam’s overall score was its high ranking for connectivity: 6th among the 30 countries in the report. This owes much to the digital infrastructure in Amsterdam and the Netherlands more widely. Around 99.5% of Dutch households will have access to at least 100 Mbps by 2023, and the country is steadily working towards its aim to become the European leader in 5G – already ranking second. Amsterdam also has a long history of world-leading connectivity and internet culture, and one of the most important internet exchange points in the world: AMS-IX.

Digital runner-up for culture and sustainability

Though not cracking the top five in the remaining pillars, Amsterdam scored highly enough on both culture and sustainability to come second overall.

In terms of culture, the report praises Amsterdam – along with Barcelona – for its efforts to innovate on digital solutions for citizen engagement. Both cities are responsible for “bringing this data revolution back to questions around civility, public life, politics, democratic decisions-making and the democratic sphere,” Philipp Rode at the London School of Economics is cited as saying. The report also commends Dutch law’s encouragement of citizen participation in decision making, and further notes how Amsterdam was one of three cities (alongside Barcelona and New York) that formed the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights in 2018.

In terms of sustainability, further mentions in the report of Amsterdam’s successful traffic management system highlight its benefits for policing environmental zones and high-emissions vehicles.

Continuing digital innovation and leadership

This ranking comes soon after the Netherlands was ranked number one for digital skills in the EU, in no small part thanks to Amsterdam initiatives and innovation. Ongoing national efforts such as the Dutch Digitalisation strategy and foresight report ‘Digitalisation 2030’ (in Dutch) are just some examples of the country’s commitment towards staying ahead of the curve during the digital transition. With Amsterdam’s thriving tech and startup ecosystems showing no sign of slowing, the city looks set to continue spearheading the Netherlands’ digital leadership in Europe and beyond.

Read more about startups in Amsterdam innovating on digital solutions across these categories. For example, find out how digital and other businesses are developing sustainability solutions addressing climate issuessustainable fashion or planet-saving AI, and why the city’s finance and fintech sector is the second greenest in the world. Also see how its strong digital infrastructure makes the Amsterdam Area an attractive option for tech companies specifically.