Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Nils Walravens

Senior Researcher

Personal Description

I have always been fascinated by technology, be it in books, films or everyday life. I am driven to understand which role technology can play in society and how society can change technology. These interactions are challenging and complex, and involve a lot of stakeholders, interests and power relations. Secondly, I love life in the city, another complex environment that triggers me to ask questions about how processes work and how positive changes can be effected. In order to better understand what the role of technology is in the urban context, I mainly apply qualitative methods (e.g. in-depth interviews, expert interviews) and participatory approaches (e.g. participatory action research, co-creation sessions).

Currently, I coordinate the Smart Flanders programme that supports the 13 centre cities in Flanders and the VGC in Brussels with opening up data. The goal of the programme is to tackle urban and societal problems by making more data available in a way that makes it as easy as possible to reuse. I have been involved in the organisation of the STOEMP Lecture Series at imec-SMIT-VUB, bringing together very different views on Brussels and its complexity, and co-organise the meetings of BSCAN, the Belgian Smart Cities Academic Network. I have been at imec-SMIT-VUB since 2007, right after obtaining a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences from the VUB. In 2016, I obtained a PhD from the VUB in the same field, with a doctoral thesis on the role of mobile applications in creating public value in Smart Cities. Today, I am responsible for projects related to Smart Cities and Open Data.