Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Smart Cities

About this Domain

At SMIT, we collaborate in smart city initiatives and investigate how their applicability and sustainability can be promoted. We believe it is not the technology itself, but how it is used, that makes cities smart. Hence, we engage public bodies, private organizations and individual citizens in co-creating solutions for urban challenges that help make sense of the abundant data generated by technology in the city. Our research is clustered around three areas: (1) innovation and growth, (2) democratic governance, citizenship and trust, and (3) inclusion and empowerment.

Smart cities as collaborative, contextual and collective efforts

What exactly makes a city ‘smart’? At SMIT, we believe that smart cities cannot be reduced to technology-mediated interaction, via mobile and other devices, in the urban space. In ‘truly smart’ city initiatives stakeholders from academia, public and private sector and the general public collaborate to make sense of the flood of data these technologies provide in order to tackle the local and societal challenges they are facing.

Increasing scale, applicability and sustainability

Smart city initiatives are no guaranteed success. A strictly top-down approach is likely to fall short as it tends to overemphasize governmental or corporate interests over others. A purely bottom-up initiative risks being able to reach the scale and validity that is needed.

At SMIT, we set up and collaborate in smart city initiatives and investigate how their scale, applicability and sustainability can be promoted by bridging bottom-up and top-down approaches. As part of this process, we explore how value and return can be optimized for all stakeholders involved. We actively engage individual citizens, public organizations, and private actors in planning and shaping their urban environment. We enable them to tackle shared urban issues and to co-create solutions.

Research areas:

  1. Innovation & growth: How can technology and design facilitate and augment how we understand and plan cities, how we manage urban services and utilities, and how we live and work as citizens?
  2. Democratic governance, citizenship & trust: How can we account for what citizens value through the design of urban technology (e.g. privacy and security) and how do we assess its public value?
  3. Inclusion and empowerment: How can smart city initiatives, such as citizen science or urban sensing, transform digital and social inequalities? And when are they at risk of reproducing them?

Key Results

Research Result
Smart Cities
21 Feb 2019
Book on the challenges and opportunities of Open Data available
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Research Result Photo of urban cyclist by yichuan zhan on Unsplash
Smart Cities
6 Dec 2017
Capturing the experience of urban cyclists throughout the city
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Research Result Photo of Woman pointing at city model by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash
Smart Cities
5 Dec 2017
Privacy concerns and willingness to share personal information in location-based social networks
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Research Result Photo of parking by chuttersnap on Unsplash
Smart Cities
4 Dec 2017
Experimenting with smart parking: benefits and caveats for mobile parking app development
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Key Publications

  • Pilot implementation and final evaluation report. Pilot operation and evaluation. (deliverable hackAIR project)
    Veeckman, C. and Temmerman, L. (2018). D7.7 Pilot implementation and final evaluation report. WP7 Pilot operation and evaluation. hackAIR project.
    Open publication

  • Behavioural change techniques for hackAIR community. Engagement strategies for user participation. (deliverable hackAIR project)
    Hoelck, K. and Veeckman, C. (2017). D6.2 Behavioural change techniques for hackAIR community. WP6 Engagement strategies for user participation. hackAIR project.
    Open publication

  • Engagement strategy for hackAIR community involvement. Engagement strategies for user participation. (deliverable hackAIR project)
    McCrory, G., Claeys, C. and Veeckman, C. (2017). D6.1 Engagement strategy for hackAIR community involvement. WP6 Engagement strategies for user participation. hackAIR project.
    Open publication

  • The role of participants for monitoring rainfall and urban floods. The FloodCitiSense project.
    Boonen, M. and Veeckman, C. (2018). The role of participants for monitoring rainfall and urban floods. The FloodCitiSense project. Poster presentation at the ECSA conference, 3-5 June 2018, Geneva, Switzerland.
    Open publication

  • Citizen Science Is in the Air – Engagement Mechanisms from Technology-Mediated Citizen Science Projects Addressing Air Pollution.
    McCrory G., Veeckman C., Claeys L. (2017) Citizen Science Is in the Air – Engagement Mechanisms from Technology-Mediated Citizen Science Projects Addressing Air Pollution. In: Kompatsiaris I. et al. (eds) Internet Science. INSCI 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10673. Springer, ChamCoppens, P. and Claeys, C. (2017). D2.4 Report on co-creation of services. WP2 Analysis and requirements. hackAIR project.
    Open publication

  • Communication in Citizen Science. A practical guide to communication and engagement in citizen science.
    Veeckman, C., Talboom, S., Gijsel, L., Devoghel, H., Duerinckx, A. (2019). Communication in Citizen Science. A practical guide to communication and engagement in citizen science. SCIVIL, Leuven, Belgium.
    Open publication

Principal Investigator
Shenja van der Graaf
Private: Shenja van der Graaf