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Data in the city: new research projects

The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities uses data research to help solve urban issues. Three interdisciplinary research projects will begin soon. Leiden sociologist John Boy explains.

This May, the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities invited researchers from the three universities to develop new research projects related to the Centre for BOLD Cities’ three research themes: for, by and with citizens and public administrators. The projects have now been determined and the new research teams are about to start their collaboration.

The projects will get under way in September and will be supported financially for a three-year period by the Centre for BOLD Cities. The Centre will help the teams develop an impact strategy which will run alongside the publications of the research results. 

Digital urbanism

John Boy, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Leiden University, is one of the participating researchers. ‘I joined BOLD Cities early on in my tenure,’ he says. ‘The Centre seemed a great place to build bridges beyond my institute, faculty and university and to find people working from a range of backgrounds on questions related to digital urbanism.’

The multidisciplinary approach of Leiden-Delft-Erasmus

Other researchers that attended the design session and are now collaborating in the new research teams include urban planners, public administration researchers, media scholars and data scientists. A multidisciplinary approach is one of the goals of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus alliance; through this type of collaboration, universities are better equipped to find answers to societal issues. 

Building a research area together 

Boy is very positive about the varied composition of his team. ‘I’m now working with people from different institutions and disciplinary backgrounds, which is just what I was looking for at the Centre for BOLD Cities,’ he says. ‘It’s even better than I imagined because this is a real opportunity to build a research area together and produce meaningful results within the three years that we’ve been given.’

Design session

What is the best way to ensure that a design session results in research proposals? To facilitate fruitful collaboration between these different disciplines, the Centre invited the participants to think of a research idea ahead of the design session. This led to a targeted approach on the day itself, Boy says, ‘It allowed a group of strangers to get down to business in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had we only talked about abstract issues such as digitisation.’

More about the Centre for BOLD Cities

Read more on the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus website.

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