ports of amsterdam

A Tour of the Ports

This afternoon Harm and I drove round the Ports. It was interesting to see that there were no footpaths to the factories in a lot of areas and the bus stops are very isolated. The area is very dull and grey. There were no cyclists either.

The workers have to wait here on dark, rainy winter nights. Dangerous and not ideal.

This worker is walking on the side of the road as there is no footpath.

Beautiful sign on Valeriusstraat.

Key Information on the Ports

The Demand for Work Production and Logistics companies have a large need for new employees, this need is going to continue to increase as new businesses develop and current employees retire.

West Axis - Industrial Area

Hoogtij(Zaandam) Westpoort (Havens van Amsterdam), Zwanenburg, Lijnden (Badhoevedorp), Hoofdorp Noord en Schipol ( Centrum, Oost Rijk.

Education is not priority for the emplyers. The want to employee people who 'want' to work and are capable of 'learning on the job'

There is a need for low-educated jobs in the New West. Councils of these areas have a large ambition to assist people from the neighbourhoods mentioned previously, to get a job.


  • Relatively young women who have not claimed social benefit and would like to work, but have many inhibitions in finding the right job.
  • School drop outs who have not completed secondary school
  • Other job seekers

Target Users

  • Present employees
  • Employers

The work available is outside their nieghbourhood. Access to transport for these people is a large problem.

Looking for a job, offering a job, available transportation to and from work should all integrate with each other. This trinity should unite to form a coherent service, and this must be planned out.

Endusers are at the heart of this problem.

Research - we must portray the current employees as ambassadors to the potential employees. In the first moment of contact with the stakeholders we must be sure to convey enthusiasm about the Harbour area. We will also offer potential employees who attend the workshop something to take home with them to keep/ show their family etc...

Design a project style - Work out testimonials to illustrate the experiences of the present employees.

Goal of research

Develop a service - bringing a solution to transportation problem, improving their experience and emotional journey. Create a better image of the Harbour Area.

During the workshops if participants feel they are part of the problem this will be a big step in finding a solution.

We must gain feedback from the workshops and interact with the participants in such a way that it will lead to a long term relationship, ensuring we can obtain more information and feedback.

Think of a way to reward the four groups for participating in the workshop. This will be an incentive for their attendance.

Concept for Workshops

We want you to come and work in the Harbour areas. How can we achieve this?

Transportation should not be an obstacle for people working in the harbour area.

During the workshops: Usage of photos, simple tasks and short questions. Expectations are the first group of women have low language skills, and low level of dutch. The other two groups are expected to have a better understanding of dutch. The groups must be given the opportunity to respond to each others answers and opinions.

Opinion and Impression of the Harbour Area ( questrions to ask to obtain this information)

  • What jobs are there in the Harbour Area?
  • Present photographs of the type of jobs in the harbour ( storage, logistics, production, offices)
  • Who would want to work here? Where would you be interested in working? Why? Would you prefer to work closer to the New West? Why? eg.childcare, travel costs, health.
  • What kind of work could you do and why?

Location of the Harbour in relation to New West/Osdorp

Map the harbour graphically with points of recognition

Judging distances to Hitachi in km and time ( and public transport) take photos of Hitachi.

Where do the people live? (address, on the map, pointing it out on the map)

State actual distances and travel times and note reactions/repsonses.

The People.

  • What kind of transportation do you have? ( show pictures of options )
  • How would you get to Hitachi if you worked there ( realistically - times etc) - spontaneous reactions.
  • Map out journey with pictures ( all transportation and stop overs)
  • Which parts would you enjoy not enjoy?
  • Map an ideal trip with photographs
  • Who knows people who currently work in the Harbour area? (ask)
  • How do they travel there?
  • Do you understand how this works?

To obtain positive / negative responses to potential transportation means.

Show photos of different means of transportation. Write down pro's and con's.

Choose favourites.

Ask about finance and cost. Picture of 'Strippenkaart' and refueling at the fuelstation. Real bottleneck or totally no interest.

The development of this service will be set up in Osdorp.


How many people in New West have to put to work, and will they apply to the criteria in the coming five years?

What are the expectations for employment in WestPort? and other industrial areas for the coming five years? in the named categories of job seekers.

What is the possible budget for the development of the service concept for the Harbour of Amsterdam and Osdorp?

When does the service concept have to be completed for? When do we want to start with the service concept and eventually to initially start with trial project.

Thank you Michel for translating all these documents for me :)

Facts about the Ports

Amsterdam Ports is an international logistics complex. The prime objective of the Ports is to stimulate economic activity and employment. Currently over 62,700 people work in there. Annually 70 million tons of goods are shipped through the port and it currently ranks fourth on the list of European Ports. It is made of four ports located along the North Sea Canal - Ijmuiden, Beverwijk, Zaanstad and Amsterdam. They have a favourable location close to the sea and excellent connections to the hinterland via water, road and rail - their proximity to Schipol Airport makes the port an ideal location for international business.

The ports are striving for sustainable development in the port. The port can only further develop into a prosperous port and industrial area if a fine balance between economy and ecology is achieved.

These facts have improved my understanding to the Ports problem. It is no secret that they have tried many ways of encouraging people from the west to work there and service design is their last resort. We must show them what Service Designers can do for the problems of society!

Thinking Ports

After visiting Osdorp Plein yesterday, the next step will be to make the jourey from there to one of the many factories situated within the Ports. This will be documented by pictures which will be used to show the partcipants of the workshop what the journey to and from work would be like. The findings will also be used to show the employers the problems and issues that need to be addressed within the journey.

After I arrive at the factories I will be allowed to photograph the work that happens there, the environment and the staff...I have to think about the information I want to get from the factory workers - what questions am I going to ask them?

Analysing the stakeholders are key at this point as I am also in a foreign country I am unfamiliar with the cultures and behaviours of those around me. For instance, many of the females who live in areas such as Osdorp Plein live very much within thier comfort zone, always staying within a short distance from their home to travel to the shops or to collect their children from school. The huge cultural difference in this country is that everybody rides a bicycle, and in most cases it is unnatural for other countries to use a bike as their first mode of transport. Dutch children are brought up riding bicycles and ice skating from a very young age.The people who inhabit these areas were not all raised in Holland, so riding a bike to and from work would be strange for them too!

The males within these families often drive cars to take the family on holiday or drive to work. Therefore, they are more confident at venturing out with their comfort zone. Although, they often feel uncomfortable at the idea of their wives venturing far away alone.

Holland is typically viewed as the cycling nation of the world, this means that politicians do not perceive cycling as a 'hot topic'. The car drivers here are used to sharing the roads with many cyclists. However, if you live in Holland it is likely that your bike will get stolen up to twice a year. This makes it clear to me why many young, stylish people are cycling rusty old bikes!

Politicians in other countries pay huge attention to cycling. In Paris the city provides a 'Rent-a-bike' service, watch a video about it here. Similarly in Barcelona, Madrid and New York the issue of cycling is important.

So I have to find out how these people perceive cycling. I also want to learn about the dynamics within their family. My visit yesterday highlighted that the majority of the women living here are mothers, which greatly influences their choice of work. How do they view issues such as skills, money, support and ambition? And how do they keep in touch with their husbands when he is at work? What would they 'need' from an employer?

Initial thoughts surrounding an outcome I could achieve in the short time I am with Design Thinkers, is a little book. A book that could be distributed amongst these communities showing the nature of the jobs available, the journey to and from work, the benefits of working there etc...all through pictures!

When I visit these factories I want to photograph the things people think about before starting a job, the kind of things everyone thinks about but no one ever asks...such as..

What the front door looks like? What the receptionist looks like? Where are the toilets? Are there vending machines? Is there a canteen? What are the other staff like? Are there public phones available for use by staff? What kind of work happens there? What does the place you work in look like? What is the uniform like? What can you hear when you are working? machines? talking? radio?...