Civic Technology research

Welcome at UrbanUX, the lab of the research group on Civic Technology at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. We are a research and design lab for the city – in the region of The Hague. Our goal is to contribute to a more pleasant city, by creating digital interactive technologies to inspire new social interactions. We develop knowledge on the design of media and technological applications that help citizens to actively and constructively shape their lives in the city. We intensively collaborate with government, entrepreneurs, creative industries, knowledge institutes, and students.

This site presents our research mission, our projects and publications.

UX in the City

Welcome at UrbanUX. We are a research and design lab for the city – in the region of The Hague. Our goal is to contribute to a more pleasant city, by creating digital interactive technologies to inspire new social interactions. We develop knowledge on the design of media and technological applications that help citizens to actively and constructively give shape to live in the city. UrbanUX is a research group in The Hague University of Applied Sciences. We intensively collaborate with government, entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and students.

Artificial Intelligence in the Public Space

Artificial Intelligence is not a hype. After a slow start in the 20th century, we now see more and more applications of AI, particularly indoors (robot vacuum cleaners, smart installations for climate control) and our personal space (bio-sensors). In the outdoor space, AI is seen much less often, but the technical infrastructure is developing rapidly and new possibilities emerge UrbanUX investigated which innovations can be realised with AI in the public outdoor environment.

In this research project, UrbanUX collaborated with Smart The Hague, Jungle Works, Wunderpeople and Haagse Makers. The project was made possible with a KIEM-subsidy from Regieorgaan SIA. The project ran from Nov. 1, 2017 until Oct. 31, 2018. It delivered many insights and two prototypes. In Dutch, you can read all about it the final report of the project.

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Artificial Intelligence in the Public Space of Scheveningen

Kunstmatige Intelligentie in de Publieke Ruimte in Scheveningen

van Leeuwen, J.P., Quanjer, A.J., Jylhä, A., et al. 2018. Kunstmatige Intelligentie in de Publieke Ruimte in Scheveningen – Projectrapportage. Den Haag: De Haagse Hogeschool, okt. 2018.

Abstract | Download the full report (in Dutch)

This document reports on the project “Artificial Intelligence in the Public Space.” The Hague University of Applied Sciences investigated, together with local creative entrepreneurs, the possibilities for applying AI and sensor technology in public spaces. The  municipality of The Hague has the intention to create a Smart City Infrastructure, consisting of “Smart City Hubs” – WiFi stations with plugin-sensor technology – in light poles in the public space.

This project deliberately took a citizen perspective in identify desirable solutions and opportunities for innovation. Two prototypes were created and evaluated, that demonstrated the potential and social value of Smart City technology. The project was co-financed with a KIEM-subsidy from Regieorgaan SIA and the following organisations:

  • The Hague University of Applied Sciences
  • The Municipality of The Hague
  • Dutch Coast / JungleWorks
  • Waterzee / Wunderpeople
  • Urban Link / Haagse Makers

Using Virtual Reality to Increase Civic Participation in Designing Public Spaces

van Leeuwen, J.P., Hermans, K., Quanjer, A.J., Jylhä, A., Nijman, H. 2018. “Using Virtual Reality to Increase Civic Participation in Designing Public Spaces.” In: Proceedings of the European Conference on Digital Government, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Oct. 2018.

Abstract | Full text

Municipalities increasingly seek to include citizens in decision-making processes regarding local issues, such as urban planning. This paper presents a case study on using Virtual Reality (VR) in a process of civic participation in the redesign of a public park. The municipality included citizens in intensive co-design activities to create three designs for the park and engaged the neighbourhood community in co-decision, in the form of a ballot. Through the civic participatory process, we studied the effectiveness of using VR technology to engage the community in participating in the co-decision process. The three designs were presented using highly realistic 360 ̊ visualisations and the effects on engagement were compared between various devices: VR headsets, smartphones, tablets, and computers. Viewing the designs in 2D paper plans was also included in the comparison. The study included over 1300 respondents that participated in the ballot. A statistical analysis of the collected data shows that participants viewing the 360 ̊ rendered images with VR technology expressed a significantly higher engagement in the co-decision process than those using their computer at home or viewing 2D paper plans. The paper describes the complete participatory design process and the impact of the e-governance used on the target group as well as on the actors organizing the e-governance process. We discuss how the use of new technology and active presence of a voting-support team inspired citizens to participate in the co-creation process and how the investment in this procedure helped the local authorities to generate support for the plans and strengthen its relationship with the community. The use of realistic visualisations that can be easily assessed by citizens through user-friendly technology, enabled a large and diverse audience to participate. This resulted in greater visibility of municipal efforts to enhance the living environment of citizens and is therefore an important step in increased civic engagement in municipal policy-making and implementation.

Participatory Urban Development with VR

Werkgroep met 2D plannenIn the Mariahoeve neighbourhood of The Hague, a park is being revamped. The neighbourhood manager, as representative of the municipality, invited inhabitants to design three variants for the park, with the aid of specialists and using 3D modelling tools. The three designs were then presented to all neighbourhood inhabitants, using Virtual Reality, who voted for their preferred design. Three forms of VR were utilised and evaluated in this research project.

Werkgroep met 3D modellenThe project has two objectives: consulting the municipality in communicating the design variants to the public; and investigating the effectiveness and validity of the different forms of VR and their effect on the engagement of inhabitants in the decision-making process.

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Street Speed Trap

In many neighbourhoods, inhabitants are disturbed by speeding traffic in their street. Often one feels powerless because no action can be taken. There is no evidence and often we do not know who was speeding. Can we use technology to allow the inhabitants to measure the speed of passing traffic? If so, what will they do with this information? Share it amongst each other, or with the police? This project addressed both the technical challenge and the social impact. We collaborated with ICX – The Hague International Center for Civic Hacks.

Social Media Restructured

Discussions in online social media are generally presented in a linear manner, often in a single timeline that shows reactions in chronological order (such as Twitter). In some media, such as forums, branches are shown that collect reactions to reactions in threads of conversations. Also here, the discussion is structured on the basis of chronology.

Readers or participants in such discussions must read the entire timeline to know what is being discussed and to contribute meaningfully. In practice, this rarely happens: people often react only on the basis of a small selection of comments they have read, e.g., at the end of the timeline. This may have a negative effect on the quality of such discussions. There is no contribution to a deepened and nuanced exchange of opinions, as is the case in physical meetings

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Message on the Spot

Echo Jim BemelmansEvery day, we communicate with means that bridge the limitations of time and place, such as phones, email, chat, social media. This project explores concepts for location-bound asynchronous communication: how can we leave messages for other people in particular places? What applications of such technology could be meaningful? This project has led to very inspiring and strong concepts for new forms of encounters and social activities.


For the development of a neighbourhood, it is important to have insight in what is going on in the neighbourhood, for various social professionals working there, but also for the inhabitants. The collaboration between citizens and professionals gets more and more important. In this project, an app is designed that allows inhabitants to map out important issues in their neighbourhood. This may concern issues to do with the physical environment (e.g. stray waste) but also issues that relate to social conditions (e.g. support for a neighbourhood activity).

citizen-pro-valstarThe app can help citizens to express their wishes and literally map them, to get into discussions about such issues, to generate ideas together and take action collectively. The professionals in the neighbourhood use the app to gain insight in what’s at stake and to communicate with inhabitants. This project has iteratively generated a number of solutions for the Citizen-Pro app.