Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Annelien Smets


Personal Description

What does it mean to be a smart city? To me, it’s the availability of data and the ability to act upon it. I’m intrigued by the transformation of this data into actionable and hence valuable information. Especially since valuable appears to have different interpretations among multiple actors.

Currently, I’m conducting my doctoral research focussing on recommender systems, personalization and serendipity. 

I hold a master’s degree in Information Management (2016) and Artificial Intelligence (2017) from KU Leuven. In March 2017, I joined SMIT as a smart city researcher and worked on various City of Things projects in Antwerp. Since 2019, I’m involved in the organization of the VUB Smart Cities Chair events.  



Key Publications

  • Human Sensemaking in the Smart City: A Research Approach Merging Big and Thick Data
    This paper aims to contribute to the debate on the integration of ethnography and data science by providing a concrete research tool to deploy this integration. We start from our own experiences with user research in a data‐rich environment, the smart city, and work towards a research tool that leverages ethnographic praxis with data science opportunities. We discuss the different key components of the system, how they work together and how they allow for human sensemaking. Smets, A., & Lievens, B. (2019). Human Sensemaking in the Smart City: A Research Approach Merging Big and Thick Data. In 2018 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings (Vol. 1, pp. 179-194). American Anthropological Association.
    Open publication