Keeping cities working


Who and what keeps your city running, unique and apart from any other?


Amsterdam’s Waternet has control “over the entire water cycle” in the city (both potable and navigable). Besides making sure the city’s numerous waterways are kept clean and unobstructed, and ensuring that the city’s over one thousand bridges are kept operational and working smoothly, Waternet’s responsibility also seems to include all things boat-related as well – from helping new houseboats navigate into the city and find a place to dock (and yes, there’s an app for that), to towing away houseboats unable to navigate under their own power.


Keeping Amsterdam’s numerous brick sidewalks clear falls to a company with a fleet of “Weedkillers” that trundle around the city blasting stubborn weeds out of the cracks with hot water shot out of a high-pressure hose. Compared to most American cities’ cement sidewalks (and their comparably fewer gaps to accommodate weeds), Amsterdam’s walkways seem to sport a good deal more native flora.


Consider the “dark matter” that manages and maintains the urban fabric around you – how did it come to be the way it is today? What responsibility belongs to the local/national government, and which are delegated to private entities?

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