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New storytelling formats for media consumption in a smart city

What if a city itself could tell stories? With the Essence project, we are looking to integrate stories both on your smartphone as well as in the physical environment of a city, using interactive public displays, Augmented Reality, AI driven wearables or smart lighting. To make this happen, VRT builds a toolkit that enables the editorial team to easily share stories in a smart city, stretched over time and location. The ultimate goal of the project is to involve citizens in civic challenges and by extent, those of society at large.

The smart city playground for the experiments is situated in the “smart zone” of Sint-Andries in Antwerp.

VRT, Nokia Bell Labs, Digitopia, Sentiance, imec IDLab, imec SMIT, KUL RxD en imec City of Things
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ESSENCE closing event: storytelling in a sentient city

Curious to hear how citizens can bring the stories of a city to life? With a wide range of data and information sources available, cities offer various storytelling opportunities. In the ESSENCE project, we investigated how we can turn the available data and information into stories that can engage citizens to further co-create and consume these.

During this closing event, the ESSENCE consortium will first demonstrate how they collected civic and local information to create stories. Then, they will present different public media for story consumption and interaction.

ESSENCE is an imec.icon research project funded by imec and Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship


13:30 KEYNOTE Setting the scene - Jan Adriaenssens (CoT)
13:50 The ESSENCE approach - Sandy Claes (VRT)
14:00 A new urban storytelling language - Chaja Libot (VRT), Steven Cauwenberg (VRT) Tom Bergmans (CoT)
14:30 How to measure citizen engagement? - Ruben D’Hauwers (SMIT VUB)
14:45 Stories found in the city 
The Story maker: Processing citizen-generated videos - Klaas Baert (VRT)
RML Streamer: Connecting smart city data - Anastasia Dimou (IDLAB uGent)
Orchestration tool: Context-based urban storytelling - Steven De Block (Digitopia)

15:20 - BREAK

15:30 Stories discovered in the city 
Interactive displays in the city - Steven De Block (Digitopia)
Orchestrating public displays in-the-wild - Andrew Vande Moere (RxD)
Multi-user augmented reality experiences in the city - Christoph Stevens (Nokia)
Hyperlocal conversation agent - Marc Van Den Broeck (Nokia), Utku Gunay Acer (Nokia), Max Luykx (Sentiance)

16:20 - Q&A

16:30 - Closing


The 'essence' of storytelling with and for citizens

Wondering how citizens can bring the stories of a city to life? With an abundance of data and information sources available in a city, there are many possibilities to tell stories. In the ESSENCE project, we developed new technologies to physically integrate stories to engage citizens in their urban challenges and those of society by extent. After two years, the project has ended and we look back on the results and insights.

Rewinding to Media Fast Forward

As usual, the VRT organised Media Fast Forward with the aim of bringing together the entire Flemish media, technology and innovation sector to discuss the future of media. The annual inspiration and networking festival welcomed over 1000 visitors at the new Brussels location 'The Egg'.