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Leiden researchers win public award in Smartest Project contest

A research project by Developmental Psychology professor Carolien Rieffe and researchers of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science has been voted Smartest Project of the Netherlands 2016.

Rieffe and colleagues won the award for their research on toddlers’ playground behaviour. The researchers made use of an innovative technique: they attached sensors to the children’s clothes in order to follow their interactions in the schoolyard. This resulted in new conclusions about playground behaviour and the importance of physical play for the socio-emotional development of children.


In the project, developmental psychologists Carolien Rieffe (Psychology) and Guida Veiga (University of Évora, Portugal) collaborated with computer scientists Joost Kok, Arno Knobbe and Ricardo Cachucho. The Leiden researchers are also affiliated with the Leiden Centre of Data Science, a network of researchers who use innovative methods to deal with large amounts of data.

Building better playgrounds

Rieffe emphasizes the importance of the project’s multidisciplinary approach: ‘Using sensors, we can do more than just investigate ‘normal’ children’s behaviour. We can also see whether, for instance, children with autism or with a cochlear implant manage to get along with their peers on the playground. Moreover, we can learn more about how to build better playgrounds.’

Smart Data City

The contest, which formed part of the Smartest Innercity contest, was organized by Smart Data City. The public chose Rieffe's research from 36 projects that make use of new technologies to improve city life. The project 'Smart Emission' of the City of Nijmegen won the jury award.

BOLD Cities

Rieffe’s project was brought to the attention of Smart Data City by the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities, which applies data research to urban issues. Earlier this year, this resulted in participation in the RTL 7 show Smart City, which aired in the spring of 2016. Watch a clip of the show here:


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