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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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.

Embedded Park Easy

Most car drivers use a navigation system that can help find the best route and often also a closed parking garage. These systems, however, do not help finding a parking spot in the street. In this project, we investigate and design an app that makes this possible.

In collaboration with ICX – The Hague International Center for Civic Hacks – a prototype is designed, with students from the Faculty of IT & Design.

Smart Spui

Spui, Den HaagIn The Hague, the crossing of Spui and De Grote Marktstraat/Kalvermarkt, is busy and complex because of the many different types of transport and because there is nog marking, no signage on the road or on traffic signs. In this scarcely regulated area, people use human communication to safely find their way through the seeming chaos, with any apparent problems. But what if soon autonomous vehicles will appear? Buses and taxis without driver? How will we communicate with them, if there’s no driver to look into the eyes?

In this project we analysed, through field research, the human behaviour and interactions in the crossing, in order to explore the solutions for interactions with non-human road users.

Slow Mail

Slow MailWith the introduction of email, sending messages and letters has nog only become easier, but also faster. In general, we experience this as an optimisation and improvement of the physical letters we used to send. yet, sending mail on paper, in an envelope, certainly had its charm that we rarely experience any longer. This project is a search for new forms of communication that function with modern technology but retain the type of charm that hand-written paper post possessed. It appears to be difficult to let go of existing metaphors and known forms of interaction.

Micropayments for buskers

Buskers, musicians in the street, receive donations in cash, but society is rapidly moving towards plastic money or virtual payment methods. What to do when no-one has coins in their pockets? The challenge in this project is to create a convincing, robust and reliable payment method that can be used quickly and effectively by passers-by to make small donations to buskers The results from this project were surprisingly versatile.