Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel


New publications by SMIT researchers (January 2024 – March 2024)

Curious about newly published scientific articles or book chapters from our researchers? In this news item, you can read a summary of articles published from January 2024 till March 2024.


Frontiers in Environmental Science

Koen Borghys, Laurens Vandercruysse, Carina Veeckman, Laura Temmerman and Rob Heyman wrote the article ‘Localizing the sustainable development goals in smart and sustainable cities: how can citizen-generated data support the local monitoring of SDGs? A case study of the Brussels Capital Region.’ for the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.  


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as the global reference framework for sustainable development endeavors. However, traditional data sources, including official statistics, fall short in effectively measuring SDG performance, due to substantial gaps in the availability of reliable, timely, actionable, disaggregated, and accessible information for policy formulation. This research explores the potential of citizen generated data to enhance local environmental in the Brussels Capital Region. Employing a qualitative approach, the study first defines and maps essential characteristics of citizen-generated data for inclusion in environmental SDG monitoring. Subsequently, expert interviews refine these characteristics and explore design requirements tailored to the Brussels Capital Region. The research culminates in a framework linking essential citizen-generated data characteristics to design requirements, ensuring data suitability for local environmental SDG monitoring. This framework advances the existing literature by specifically addressing local environmental SDG monitoring through citizen-generated data. It offers practical insights for local stakeholders, particularly policymakers, aiming to overcome barriers to the uptake of citizen-generated data and ultimately enhances environmental SDG monitoring in the Brussels Capital Region. The framework’s applicability in other regions or for non-environmental SDG indicators remains a potential avenue for future research. 


International Journal of Cultural Policy

The article ‘Finally, beyond status quo? Analysis of steps taken to improve gender equality in the European audiovisual sector in light of the #MeToo movement’ of Dilara Asardag and Marlen Komorowski was published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy.


This research examines the situation of women and the initiatives implemented to support women in the audiovisual sector in Europe in light of the #MeToo movement. Our study is grounded in critical feminist cultural theory. We engaged primarily in secondary data analysis of two study objects: (1) reports and studies that highlight the situation of women and (2) secondary data on initiatives and practices that aim to change the situation of women. We also conducted eight interviews. Although the representation of women in the audiovisual sector is still estimated to be 20–30%, there exist initiatives and actions aiming to support women by different means to reach equality in the labour market, tackle sexual harassment and gender stereotyping, and create visibility. These initiatives include networking opportunities, mentoring and training programmes, regulatory measures, psychological and legal support, and data gathering and provision. The success of the initiatives can depend on the organisational and funding structure/public support. Most initiatives involve NGOs, public service broadcasters (PSB), film festivals, public institutions, and film funding bodies. Finally, we recommend going beyond the notion of visibility while adopting an intersectional approach to action and data collection.


Financial Innovation

In Financial Innovation, the article ‘Changing the whole game: effects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s accelerated digitalization on European bank staff’s data protection capabilities’ by Ine Van Zeeland and Jo Pierson was published.


The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the acceptance of digital banking services such as online payment and banking apps. As bank clients become more likely to use online services and contactless payment, the amount of consumer data available for banks’ digitalization strategies has increased. This acceleration in digital banking has placed a spotlight on retail banks’ efforts to protect personal data. Bank staff are on the frontlines of both protecting personal data and communicating their banks’ efforts in this respect to maintain consumer trust. Our study aimed to answer the following question: How did the sudden increase in digitalization during the pandemic affect bank staff’s capabilities in protecting personal data? In a two-stage qualitative study, we collected empirical data on bank staff’s data protection efforts during accelerated digitalization. Analyzing our findings from the perspective of technological mediation theory, which focuses on the relationships between technologies, practices, and social arrangements, we found that in banking platformization, bank staff are disempowered in supporting clients, who are responsibilized for protecting themselves from fraud. Competitive pressures push retail banks into using client data in ways beyond sector norms, endangering the contextual integrity of data flows. Further, our findings show that digitalization presents bank clients with new risks, of which they are informed only after changing their banking practices, and it may be difficult to return to former arrangements. The application of mediation theory, combined with contextual integrity theory, clarified the shifting positions of different digital technology users in the infrastructural network of platformized banking and allowed for an in-depth analysis of conflicting interests. By clarifying these interests, difficulties were identified that need to be addressed in public policy and digital innovation projects to prevent loss of trust among bank clients.

Communications of the ACM

In Communications of the ACM the article ‘Toward a Solid Acceptance of the Decentralized Web of Personal Data: Societal and Technological Convergence. Giving individuals more control of their personal data’ by Ana Pop Stefanija, Bart Buelens, Elfi Goesaert, Tom Lenaerts, Jo Pierson, and Jan Van den Bussche was published. The authors tackle in their article the timely issue of designing decentralised web solutions. Pinpointing the most important aspects, it considers the various societal, technological and regulatory  opportunities and potential painpoints.


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