A ‘consistent top performer’

The EU’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) tracks the digital progress being made by member states. The 2022 index puts Finland and Denmark at the head of the pack with the Netherlands in third place. The report describes the Netherlands as “a consistent top performer in the EU”, noting the presence of the Dutch digital strategy (DDS) for the digital transformation of the economy and society. It also says that the investments the government is making in innovation, research, and knowledge development  will help cement the Netherlands’ strong position in innovative research, use of digital technologies, and the level of digital skills.

Digital literacy is another area where the Netherlands is leading, with a recent survey ranking the Dutch population number one across all 27 EU countries for digital skills. The DESI report touches on the importance of this, saying that with digital tools increasingly an integral part of everyday life and necessary for social participation, there is a risk of the digitally illiterate being left behind. The DESI index also puts the Netherlands in third place behind Finland and Ireland on the Women in Digital scoreboard, which assesses women’s inclusion in digital jobs, careers and entrepreneurship.

Steps to take for further progress

The DESI report urges all EU countries, including the Netherlands, to take steps to ensure further progress. The uptake of advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as particularly important along with addressing the shortage of digital tech and ICT experts across the continent. The report also urges the Netherlands to intensify its participation in major European technology-cooperation projects and to further invest in sustainable digital technologies

Leading role for Amsterdam

As a centre of excellence and innovation in the Dutch digital landscape, Amsterdam is key to overall digital progress in the Netherlands. The city recently took second place in the Digital Cities Index 2022 compiled by Economist Impact. The Index assessed 30 global cities on digital connectivity, services, culture and sustainability and ranked the Dutch capital second overall. Amsterdam scored particularly highly on services and connectivity. The Economist Impact report also praised Amsterdam for its work on digital solutions for citizen engagement and noted that it is one of three cities (alongside Barcelona and New York) that formed the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights in 2018.

Amsterdam is AI-ready

Amsterdam is also leading the way in the uptake of AI tech in the Netherlands. The Global Observatory for Urban AI has launched an Atlas of AI projects happening in cities worldwide, which shows that Amsterdam is a forerunner in developing and implementing ethical AI tech systems. The 2020 Global Cities AI Readiness Index put Amsterdam in the top ten of the world’s AI-ready cities, scoring second in the ‘small cities’ category and seventh overall. The European Commission’s DESI report noted that the Netherlands’ progress in the digital transition over the coming years would be crucial to enable progress in the EU as a whole. Amsterdam’s thriving AI and tech sectors will continue to play a significant role in that digital transition.

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