SBO Project with primary societal finality: Serendipity Engine: towards surprising and interesting urban experiences

Project Details


Concerns exist regarding the controlling and restricting nature of today’s
recommender systems. The trend is towards serving predictable,
popular and homogeneous content, which is often referred to as “filter
bubbles”. In an urban context, this means that people are no longer
exposed to the diversity of cities and their inhabitants, which has
negative consequences for the open and democratic character of the
city. This is a timely issue that needs urgent attention and there is a
societal call for a transition towards applications that promote
serendipity. However, what is missing today is a clear understanding of
the meaning and value of serendipity in urban environments, and how
this can be engendered in digital applications. In this project, we will
develop such an understanding and identify the potential role of
governing organisations in introducing serendipity to urban information
systems. Additionally, the project will investigate how developers can
design for serendipity. This will be studied on the level of data,
algorithms and design. This approach is inspired by the theory of
affordances and the findings that (digital) environments can be designed
to afford serendipity. The affordances (in terms of data, algorithms and
design) will be designed, developed and validated using Living Lab
methodologies in three urban pilot scenarios. To support this Living Lab
approach, a novel research methodology will be developed to study
users’ experienced serendipity..
Effective start/end date1/10/2230/09/26


  • Knowledge representation and reasoning
  • Machine learning and decision making

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Knowledge representation and reasoning


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