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Posts Tagged ‘dutch’


Photo: YouTube
One of the calendars used in the Dutch prison system to encourage prisoners to help solve cold cases.

Here’s a new twist on solving cold cases. It’s being implemented in the Netherlands, and I was going to say, “Trust the creative Dutch to come up with this idea!” But it turns out they got the idea from the United States.

Daniel Boffey writes at the Guardian, “Prisoners across the Netherlands are to be issued with calendars for their cells featuring unsolved murders or disappearances as part of a drive by the Dutch police to crack unsolved cases.

“The so-called cold case calendars will be handed to all 30,000 prisoners in the country after a trial run in five jails in the north resulted in 160 tips to the police.

“Each week of the year in the brightly coloured 2018-19 calendars will be illustrated with a photograph of a missing person and details of the case. The hope is that many of those in jail will know details of some of the crimes or may have heard other criminals chatting about them. …

“Jeroen Hammer, the calendar’s inventor, told Dutch newspapers the calendars had also proved popular with bored prisoners, although some had regarded the initiative as an attempt to turn them against their own. …

“The calendar has been printed in Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, English and Russian to maximise its impact, and a €800,000 reward is being made available for those whose information ends in a successful conviction. …

“The police say they can offer anonymity to people in certain cases.

“ ‘There is no penalty for keeping information about a criminal offence committed. Therefore, you do not have to fear persecution if you have been sharing information, even after years of deliberation,’ they said.

“The idea of the calendars was borrowed from the United States, where every year several states distribute a deck of cards containing information about cold cases among prisoners.”

More here. Someone should study whether participating prisoners are motivated mostly by the reward, by boredom, by outrage at certain crimes, or something else.

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Despite its size, the compassionate Netherlands has welcomed a large number of refugees during the largest migration since World War II, perhaps remembering the terrified families that fled Hitler.

To house all the newcomers is naturally a challenge, but a design competition has yielded creative ideas.

Jon Comulada writes at Upworthy, “As the worldwide refugee crisis continues, innovative solutions are needed so that the people fleeing civil war and sectarian violence have a safe place to live. …

“In January 2016, the Netherlands launched a design competition called ‘A Home Away From Home’ in which entrants were tasked with designing temporary housing for refugees and disaster victims. All of the winning designs rethought the idea of public housing, adding amenities and innovations to make the buildings more like fully functioning homes than simply a bed to sleep on.

“The winners of the contest recently appeared on display in Amsterdam as part of Dutch Design Week and included things like solar power, water purification systems, and ingenious use of space and material.

“The cube design of the Farmland [below] means dozens can be stacked, placed together, and moved easily. The architects of this design imagined the miniature villages establishing a ‘DIY economy’ with local towns. …

“Home is a concept many of us take for granted, but it’s not a small thing. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, and human.

“The current refugee crisis hasn’t showed signs of slowing down, and with climate change creating more and more dangerous weather systems, we’re likely to see climate refugee numbers grow sharply. All of those people are going to need places to live. Innovative solutions like these help them to not only live, but live with dignity and opportunity.”

Check out several other designs from the competition at Upworthy, here.

Photo: A Home Away From Home
This Farmyard shelter is designed to transform vacant farmland into mini villages.

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According to Josh Planos at the Atlantic, the forward-looking Dutch are at it again. Not only are they on the cutting edge in matters such as energy use and floating forests, they have anticipated the increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses, creating a village where patients can feel normal.

“The isolated village of Hogewey lies on the outskirts of Amsterdam in the small town of Wheesp. Dubbed ‘Dementia Village’ by CNN, Hogewey is a cutting-edge elderly-care facility — roughly the size of 10 football fields — where residents are given the chance to live seemingly normal lives.

“With only 152 inhabitants, it’s run like a more benevolent version of The Truman Show, if The Truman Show were about dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Like most small villages, it has its own town square, theater, garden, and post office. Unlike typical villages, however, this one has cameras monitoring residents every hour of every day, caretakers posing in street clothes, and only one door in and out of town, all part of a security system designed to keep the community safe. Friends and family are encouraged to visit. Some come every day.

“Last year, CNN reported that residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities. …

“Residents are only admitted if they’re categorized as having ‘severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.’ Vacancies are rare, given that a spot only opens when a current resident passes away, and the village has operated virtually at full capacity since it opened in 2009.

“Hogewey was primarily funded by the Dutch government and cost slightly more than $25 million to build. The cost of care is nearly $8,000 per month, but the Dutch government subsidizes the residents—all of whom receive private rooms—to varying degrees; the amount each family pays is based on income, but never exceeds $3,600.”

More at the Atlantic.

Where did I just hear about someone with Alzheimer’s? Oh, right. A detective series on TV. So moving. Boy, I hope that detective’s daughter knows about this village.

Photo: Gabriel Rocha/Flickr

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A Dutch diplomat started following me on twitter. He’s a Yale World Fellow, so how bad could it be? (Better than, say, Contagious Disease Fellow.)

@Alex_Verbeek is focused on environmental issues, and today he tweeted about the Stockholm Environment Institute, “ is ranked second best think tank worldwide.”

Because of my Swedish relatives, I naturally felt curious about SEI and looked it up. The website doesn’t say which think tank is first — or at least not prominently — but it does say that the US office is in Somerville, Mass., of all things. You learn something every day. I did know that the great environmental radio show Living on Earth is in Somerville, but the city is still a bit under the shadow of its industrial past.

From SEI’s website: “SEI’s vision is a sustainable future for all. Our mission is ‘to support decision-making and induce change towards sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science and policy in the field of environment and development’.

“To deliver on our mission, we work across issues like climate change, energy systems, water resources, air quality, land-use, sanitation, food security, and trade, and we approach these issues from a range of perspectives from the natural and social sciences.

“We combine scientific research with policy analysis, connecting our work to decision-makers and civil society in global governance, national public policy, regional cooperation, local planning, and the private sector. We generate and share knowledge that catalyses action, and always take a highly collaborative approach: stakeholder involvement is at the heart of our efforts to build capacity, strengthen institutions, and equip partners for the long term.

“Making scientific knowledge accessible is a priority. We publish our own series of open-access reports and briefs, alongside articles in leading academic journals, and work creatively through a range of media to ensure that our research is available to those that need it. We convene seminars and conferences that bring together decision-makers, academics, and practitioners to debate key issues and share knowledge, and engage in and inform policy processes, development action, and business practice worldwide.”

Whew! Wonky! Wish I could introduce SEI to Somerville neighbor Steve Curwood of Living on Earth. He’s pretty good at using everyday language for listeners.

I hope to learn more about the Stockholm Environment Institute, in any case, and am delighted its US office is so close to home.

Photo: Stockholm Environment Institute
One environmental concern SEI is studying is disaster risk in the Asia-Pacific region.

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New online services make it easy to borrow things you need temporarily but don’t want to buy.

Janet Morrissey writes at the NY Times, “When vandals broke into Stephanie Ciancio’s Land Cruiser in 2014 and stole her car stereo, she did not have the time and money to replace it. It was particularly vexing for Ms. Ciancio, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident, because she had been planning to take a four-day road trip to Fern Canyon, Calif., over the long July 4 weekend, and the idea of making the eight-hour drive without music was depressing.

“So she logged onto Peerby.com, typed in her predicament, and within 40 minutes was connected with someone willing to lend her a Beats wireless Bluetooth speaker for her car trip.” She was thrilled.

Peerby founder Daan Weddepohl, Morrissey contintues, “was born in Rotterdam in 1980 and developed a passion for computers and programming at a young age. ‘I asked for a compiler for my 13th birthday,’ he said.

“He pored over books and joined online bulletin boards to hone his programming skills. His parents, both psychiatrists, encouraged his entrepreneurial spirit and interest in technology. But it was a fire that ignited the Peerby dream.

“In February 2009, fire ripped through Mr. Weddepohl’s apartment building, … Most of Mr. Weddepohl’s belongings were destroyed by fire, water or smoke.

“He was devastated. But in the months after, Mr. Weddepohl watched in amazement as friends — and even strangers — offered furniture, tools and other items to help him get back on his feet. It was a revelation. “’ discovered that the people around me were so much more important than the stuff,’ he said. ‘People love to help other people out — we’re wired to help others.’ ”

Read how the Peerby concept grew from the ashes, here.

I blogged earlier this year about this concept. You can read “Borrowing Gadgets you Need Only Once,” here.

Photo:Jason Henry for The New York Times
Stephanie Ciancio was able to borrow a wireless Bluetooth speaker from Matt Dodge through an online service called Peerby.com. 

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And while we’re on the subject of the energy-saving bike trails in the Netherlands, we note a brief report in the NY Times to the effect that those clever Dutch also have a road that powers houses.

SolaRoad, according to its website, “is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It … converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.”

Adds the Times, “Sten de Wit of the engineering firm TNO said … that each square meter of road generated 50 to 70 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, or enough for the initial strip to supply power to one or two Dutch households. The test is scheduled to run three years and will cost 3 million euros ($3.7 million). Mr De Wit said despite the high costs of developing the first SolaRoad, successor projects may be more profitable as solar cells grow cheaper and more efficient.”

Check out the SolaRoad website, here.

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Liz Stinson writes at Wired magazine about a bike lane in the Netherlands created to evoke Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night.

“If you happen to be near Eindhoven in the Netherlands, you can walk or bike down a glowing path modeled after Van Gogh’s masterpiece. The one kilometer lane is the work of Daan Roosegaarde …

“The Van Gogh-Rooosegaarde bike path (located near where Van Gogh himself lived from 1883-1885) uses a luminescent material that charges during the day and glows at night. These glowing bits look like little pebbles, but they’re actually not rocks at all. Using the smart coating material developed with Dutch infrastructure company Heijmans, Roosegaarde was able to create 50,000 fluorescent ‘rocks’ that he then embedded into wet concrete in a swirling, pointillism pattern reminiscent of Starry Night. …

“The big goal is to make the coating as dynamic as possible—shifting colors, markings or appearing and disappearing altogether—to account for our ever-changing urban spaces. …

“The designer suspects the path’s real draw will change from person to person. ‘Some people will come because they’re interested in safety and energy-friendly landscapes, others will come because they want to experience art and science,’ he says.”

More here.

Photo: Studio Roosegaarde
Daan Roosegaarde created a glowing bike path in the Netherlands based on Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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