Amsterdam is trying to become a smart city, with technology and investments being made in ways that will (hopefully) improve the city living experience for residents. There are a lot of items mentioned in the article, but one of the main items that I think underpins the entire experiment is data.
The piece notes that people and organizations can contribute to public data, which is then accessible by anyone that wants to build software or applications. The idea that groups can add to, and consume, data, is important. We need lots of data to better understand, and work with, our environment. We also need to ensure that the data is accessible widely otherwise it can be stifling to the innovations that people may dream about.
Amsterdam is participating in the CitySDK, a project that tries to standarize APIs for cities. That’s important to avoid every environment having to reinvent their own APIs. This also means that software applications written by talented developers in one place might be easily ported to other locations. Ultimately, we might find that not only do our cell phones easily work in all locations, but specific applications that we have (perhaps for something like buses or grocers), might also easily port to other places.
I also think this provides a lot of opportunity for those of us working in software. I can see that there would be lots of organizations that have ideas for applications, but lack programming skills. There may be lots of opportunities in the future for developers to work with those that dream of new systems by bringing an idea to life. Even if you donated your time, you could polish your development skills, your communication skills with non-technical people, and dramatically improve the impression your resume makes with potential employers.