e-Participation - Pilot Results

The e-Participation pilot was set up to test how integrated eMedia technologies can encourage eParticipation and what are the advantages, best practices and limitations of cross-border activities within the Living Lab network.

The experiment was designed to cluster three running local Living Lab projects in three countries, in which social media are being used to stimulate and facilitate the participation of citizens: the Issy-les-Moulineaux Medialand in France, the Manchester Digital Living Lab in the United Kingdom and the Antwerp Museum of Modern Art in Belgium. In this experiment one specific technology and related service within each Living Lab was selected (3D technologies from French SMEs Navidis1 and Virdual2, social media and community reporters programs from the UK NGO People’s Voice Media3, context aware mobile application from the Belgian start-up AirGraffiti4), with the objective to adapt and integrate them with each other.

The 3 pilots proposed are very similar and yet very different, in the sense that they make use of the same technologies, but had to be adapted in order to cope with the local needs. For example, the French pilot tested an interactive multimedia trail on the History of the Fort of Issy, using QR codes, 3D modelisation, geolocation and community reporting, the Belgian pilot developed a serious game to increase user involvement with the exhibits in a museum, using QR codes and a 3D virtual gallery dedicated to kids, and the UK pilot aimed at involving citizens in the urban development process through the use of QR codes, community reporting and 3D technologies.

The common goal of all these experiments was to test the possibility to access Culture through ICT. The three e-Participation pilot stories are presented in detail here below.

The Antwerp media/eParticipation trial

Issy-les-Moulineaux pilot (France) – The Digital Fort Use Case

The French pilot tested the aggregation of Media technologies within the framework of the Digital Fort5, an ambitious project that aims to create a new Green and Hi-Tech district in the place of the old Issy Fort, a landmark site and the scene of bloody battles between the French and the Prussians in the war of 1870.

In line with the city’s desire to preserve the memory of this significant page of Issy’s history and encourage the citizens to get involved in the life of their city, the pilot partners developed an interactive multimedia trail, based on the reconstruction of the fort in 3D, augmented reality, geolocation and crossmedia. The objective was to encourage the citizens to get involved in the life of their city, to discover its history and to increase their awareness on the cultural and historical patrimony of Issy-les-Moulineaux.

The multimedia trail begins at the Museum of Issy, where a cross media device developed by the SME Virdual presents the history of the Fort from its construction up to the present day, with a focus on the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the Commune in 1871. It is the starting point of a discovery trail that takes the visitors across several historical sites throughout the city.
On the information boards in front of each historical site, a QR code allows via a smartphone to instantly access more information about the events that occurred in that particular place during the 1870-71 war.
iPhone and Android owners are able to take the experience one step further, as they are invited via MobExplore (a free application available on the AppStore developed by an Apollon supporting partner6) to solve various riddles and puzzles and report constantly on their journey by taking pictures or videos or geolocating themselves. The content produced during the game is uploaded in real time on the 3D map of the city provided by the SME Navidis, creating thus a shared cartography of the City History, and can be consulted online.7

The trail was launched on the occasion of the French Internet Festival and was covered by a group of Community Reporters from Issy-les-Moulineaux8 that were trained by the Manchester-based NGO People’s Voice Media. On May 19th, at only two months after the launch, the multimedia trail was double awarded at a national competition called “Evillementiel”9, receiving the 1st prize for the best cultural event and the Grand Prize Evillementiel.

Antwerp pilot (Belgium) – M HKA Museum Use Case

The Belgian pilot tested the impact of a mobile 3D game application on the museum experience of young museum visitors. The primary aim of the research consisted of examining the experiences and practices of youngsters when using the application. In particular, the pilot intended to assess the impact of a 3D game on young visitor’s movements, art-viewing habits, interaction patterns and learning behavior.10

The game is composed of two spaces in which the visitor operates. The first space comprises the physical premises of the M HKA museum in Antwerp, where the visitor moves as s/he normally does when visiting a museum, equipped with a smartphone. The second space is a virtual space that contains seven screenlike frames. At the beginning of the game, each of the frames contains a textual signifier, such as a word or word combination, a line of poetry or a question.

The purpose of the game consists of matching the works of art in the physical museum with the textual signifiers in the virtual space. In order to do that, the visitor needs to scan a QR code situated in the direct vicinity of an artwork. By scanning the code with his/her smartphone, the visitor is able to consult additional information about the selected work of art and to match it to a frame in the virtual space, using an application developed jointly by Virdual and AirGraffiti. Each time an exhibit is matched to a text in the virtual space, a new entry appears in the game progress visualization. This visualization is presented on a computer screen and displays all the matched artworks for each visitor. As there are seven virtual frames, the visualization shows alternating rows of seven individual “exhibitions”, as if each visitor is creating a personal exhibition. In addition, it mentions the visitor’s name and his art-viewing profile.
After calculating the score over all the works of art for each category, the category on which the user scored highest is displayed in the game progress visualization.

The game ends when the visitor has worked his way through all virtual textual identifiers. The visitor is informed of his art-viewing profile and receives a booklet containing an explanation on his profile as well as recommendations for other works of art that would typically interest a person who falls under the specific profile.

Manchester pilot (UK) – Manchester Public Library Use Case

The Manchester pilot aimed to work existing e-Participation projects in Manchester in order to trial the use of Living Labs methods for SME project partners and users. The pilot tested the use of QR codes to engage with citizens.
Manchester Art Gallery's Decoding Art project11 uses QR codes attached to public art works in the city to allow visitors and citizens to learn more about the art works using their mobile phone. By scanning a QR code, citizens are taken to mobile-formatted web site which provides information about the art works using text, pictures and audio.

In order to test Living Labs processes in improving this service, the Manchester Pilot arranged for a series of user testing sessions with members of the public in April 2011. The testing took place in St Albert's Square in Manchester where many of the public art works are located. The participants were asked to try out the QR code scanning for themselves. After an hour of testing, the pilot team members collected feedback about users’ experience when using the service. This enabled Manchester Art Gallery to plan and implement improvements to the service, and it gave the Manchester pilot a baseline evaluation to use when testing the Air Graffiti product from IBBT.
Following on from the Art Gallery QR code work, the Manchester pilot is working with IBBT to test the Air Graffiti application inside a Manchester Museum by tagging collections in the museum with QR codes and carrying out testing sessions with citizens. This will be used as a comparison with IBBT's experiences in using Air Graffiti in museums in Belgium.

The Manchester pilot is also working with Manchester Central Library12, currently closed to the public whilst it undergoes renovation work until 2013. As there is a need to keep citizens engaged about what is happening inside the Library, the Manchester pilot is working to use Living Labs processes to engage with citizens. QR codes have been put up on hoardings around the construction site which link to photos on the web, and work has started with SMEs partners to use QR codes and 3D models as a way to test their products. This work has been slightly delayed due to making the construction site safe enough for engagement work with members of the public to be carried out at the site.

1 http://www.navidis.com/
2 www.virdual.com
3 http://peoplesvoicemedia.co.uk/
4 http://airgraffiti.com/
5 http://www.fortdissy.com
6 http://www.mobexplore.com/
7 http://urbadeus.orbe.mobi
8 The Community Reports can be found at www.issy.com/web-reporter
9 Evillementiel is a national yearly competition which rewards the best local cultural events organized by French cities. http://www.evillementiel.com/
10 http://vimeo.com/25502196
11 http://www.creativetourist.com/features/sight-specific; http://blogs.ukoln.ac.uk/cultural-heritage/category/qr-codes; http://www.flickr.com/photos/22062300@N08/5258299666
12 http://www.manchester.gov.uk/Libraries/central/