Case: Time Machine Street Register for the Municipality of Den Bosch

Go to Den Bosch Time Machine

Connect and visualize big data from the past

 The mission of project Time Machine, guided by the heritage department of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, is to connect and visualize big data from the past in order to make their archives accessible to the general public. For this project students Max van den Berg, Pim van Loon, Julian Martens, Job de Nooijer and Martijn Scheve created a street register containing all current and historic information of the city center of ‘s Hertogenbosch at street level. 

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The Challenge

 The main challenge of the project was connecting the various current and historical data collections, and subsequently being able to interact with the available data at street level. This basically comes down to: 

  1. Centralizing the historical data in a street register. 
  2. Making this street register accessible to the general public and researchers. 

What has been done

 To effectively tackle these challenges, a database was constructed in a convenient way. Furthermore, an interactive dashboard was developed to present the information in the database to the general public. 

Database

 The heritage department puts great emphasis on making archives accessible to the general public, internal researchers, and external researchers. Of course, a dashboard can easily be made accessible to everyone over the internet, however, this characteristic should not only be limited to the dashboard. To publicize the database containing all the information of historic and current streets in ‘s Hertogenbosch, the database was developed according to the Linked Open Data (LOD) protocol. LOD allows multiple stakeholders to collectively gather and share their data, and thus fuel innovation within the heritage sector for many years to come. 

Dashboard

The following data sources provided the starting point for the content of the dashboard. The list consists of both data to provide content (historical information & images) and functional data to enable interactivity (geographical data):

  • Bossche Encyclopedia | historical information on (disappeared) streets
  • Wikipedia | images and textual descriptions to streets
  • Image database heritage department | images of the heritage department to streets
  • BAG | zip codes of streets in city center & naming of streets
  • NWB | geometries of streets

To provide the users of the dashboard some useful functionalities, the following filters were implemented:

  • Name | search a specific street by name
  • Disappearance | streets can be filtered based on whether they are disappeared or not
  • Year | streets can be filtered based on whether there exists a known historical source for that street within a given time frame.

The result

The delivered street register, based on the LOD database and the interactive dashboard, fulfilled the expectations of the heritage department of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. With the sustainable solutions developed by the students, the heritage department once again makes a good step in understanding how to make their archives accessible to the general public. For more information about the Time Machine project, go to the website.

Bridging data science with humanities

“This project bridged data science with humanities showing how disciplines are becoming day by day more intertwined. History is not traditionally associated with data science. Still, the students showed how their cutting-edge skills could be applied to new domains and how new solutions can solve problems that were impossible to address only ten years ago”. 

dr. Claudia Zucca – Assistant Professor and Researcher at JADS

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