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Brussels By Us: Tell politicians what you think of your neighbourhood
A citizens’ project launched today that allows residents, workers or visitors in a specific Brussels neighbourhood to share their opinions on urban developments. Brussels By Us is an app and is currently focused on the Northern Quarter.
In certain places across Brussels’ northern business district are white boxes known as beacons. The app uses a smartphone’s beacon technology to alert the user when they are in the vicinity of one.
The app then asks the user to answer a number of questions about the building, square, street or other area they are in and offer any advice or concerns. Questions will be related to a number of issues specific to the site like safety, land use, smart mobility and empty space.
The app was developed by VUB’s Smit research group, with the support of Brussels Regional Informatics Centre. It was financed by informatics state secretary Bianca Debaets.
“With Brussels By Us, we want to get ideas from Brussels citizens,” said Debaets. “I know for certain that everyone has ideas to improve the liveability of their neighbourhood. We are using smarty city technology to collect as many concrete and innovative ideas as we can.”
Following the Northern Quarter, beacons will be accessible in the pedestrian zone, with questions posed to citizens about tourism, retail and public space. After that, the app will open up to include U-square, where the VUB and ULB campuses are located.
There will be a minimum of 10 beacons in every zone, and users will also be able to consult a map of locations and seek them out. The three zones are part of a pilot project, and the results of all the responses will be analysed during the summer.
From there, it will be determined if the app will continue, expanding to other neighbourhoods. Researchers and planners will also assess if some of the ideas generated by the app can be realised.
Smit research group is part of Leuven- based technology research centre imec, which previously developed a similar app for Antwerp’s City of Things project. “We are pleased,” said project co-ordinator Pieter Ballon, “that Brussels is supporting this research into the needs and desires of the citizens of the city of tomorrow.”
Photo courtesy Uit in Brussel