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An interdisciplinary consortium of the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), receives €1 million to build an open digital infrastructure for safe network analysis of all inhabitants of the Netherlands. This will allow scholars and policymakers to gain crucial insights into key issues like stratification, segregation, social change, and inequality.

Building on the official data from CBS, the project interconnects the 17 million inhabitants of the Netherlands through 39 billion social ties, such as your neighbors, colleagues, family and school relations. The new POPNET-SSH project will develop a safe digital infrastructure and research community that unlocks these data in an open and ethical way, taking into account privacy issues as well as computational challenges. POPNET-SSH will enable researchers and policymakers to answer their questions about, for instance, strength of networks and loneliness, social segregation and the role of income in neighborhoods,  without the need of specialized technical computing skills.

New possibilities

Now initially funded for 5 years, POPNET will build a digital infrastructure (a ‘supercomputer’) with specific hardware and software for social network analysis. With these tools, the project will boost novel research on new datasets.

“This unique project will build a community of researchers interested in questions of great societal importance. We look forward to the novel work that will be done, based on this globally unique dataset and aided by easy-to-use supercomputer’, adds co-director Eelke Heemskerk about the importance of this network.

Co-applicant Gert Buiten from Statistics Netherlands: “In this project, the scientific and statistical worlds combine forces to develop innovative data statistical products and analytical tools for better understanding and managing some of the most important  and difficult modern-day societal problems.”


The co-directors of the POPNET project are Eelke Heemskerk (AISSR/IAS) and Frank Takes (Leiden).

The interdisciplinary consortium is led by the University of Amsterdam, together with Leiden University, and Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The project was funded with €1 Million by Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH.

POPNET-SSH also contributes to the strategic research partnership of IAS with Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the field of complexity science, that is currently being set up.

Dr. E.M. (Eelke) Heemskerk

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Political Economy and Transnational Governance