Creating a collaborative platform for novel urban services

Urban service providers get lots of data from various sources. The problem is that these data have been designed independently of one another. So, urban service providers need a way to open up, analyse and exploit all these scattered urban data. The EIT Digital Doctoral School has an Industrial Doctorate position available to offer a collaborative plaza allowing relevant private and public stakeholders and citizens to work together, for publishing data and for exploiting them to create novel urban services.

The EIT Digital Doctoral School position has been defined in cooperation with the Fondazione Bruno Kessler and Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. Interested students can apply before August 31st, 2017. EIT Digital Action Line Leader Digital Cities, Stéphane Péan, says: "The aim of this Industrial Doctorate position is making the city visible to citizens through smart, seamless visualisation of information based on data analytics and smart rendering, customised to individual citizens and to a specific environment."


Cities are becoming more and more digital. This leads to the accumulation of a lot of urban data from a wide range of different sources. Most urban data are neither open nor accessible nor available in compatible digital formats. Even in the case of recent digitalised documents by the Public Administration (PA), users may end up searching for a needle in the haystack, navigating through the archives for a considerable amount of time before finding what they need. Often, they have to manually inspect and refine search results. The public administration domain is important since lot of city related data are produced by the PA but it is challenging because of inherent specificity of its language, rich in technical terms and in syntactically complex structures, and because information on a specific topic is often issued by different PA bodies in different formats since they are not coordinating with one another. Cities, and citizens alike, are in a strong need for novel approaches for opening up, analysing and exploiting scattered urban data.


The selected candidate will develop advanced tools for retrieving and structuring information extracted from documents issued by PA bodies based on the so-called "City Enabler". This is an IT solution that enables all relevant stakeholders, including public bodies and private organisations and citizens, to work together, to publish data and make use of that data to create novel urban services.

The proposed approach will extract and combine different information layers in a flexible way, ranging from the semantic content of documents to their similarity with other documents, coarse-grained topics, readability metrics, document "popularity". These activities should lead to the development of a flexible information retrieval tool, in which search preferences are taken into account. In this way, different stakeholders will be able to take advantage of the proposed solution, each having the possibility to look for the specific types of information they want.

Expected outcome

The main expected outcome of the PhD thesis, from an application perspective, is a software tool allowing for "intelligent" retrieval of information involving the Public Administration domain, validated with a set of real use cases. Namely, such a tool should allow for the flexible, multi-layered search of documents content and the ranking the search output according to stakeholders' preferences. From the research perspective, the PhD work will result in a set of top level publications in high-ranked conferences and journals, mainly in the areas of information retrieval and natural language processing.


The base location of the PhD student is mainly at the EIT Digital Doctoral Training Centre in Trento, Italy. The industrial partners Engineering and FBK are located at the same premise. Engineering is one of the founders of the FiWare Foundation and FBK is running the operation of the FiWare platform
in the Trentino Region.
During the PhD, the student will spend six months abroad, visiting a partner associated with one of the EIT Digital nodes. The partner will be selected within the FIWARE network, which is being reinforced in EIT Digital also thanks to the CEDUS activities. Potential partners, already part of the network, are for instance Telefonica, Atos (Madrid node), or Images&Réseaux (Paris node).


  • Available positions: 1
  • Industrial partner: Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. (ENG) (Italy)
  • Academic/research partner: Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) (Italy)
  • PhD title granted by: University of Trento plus EIT Certificate
  • Duration: 3 years
  • This PhD will be funded by EIT Digital, Engineering and FBK


Those interested in applying should fill in the application form on the website of The University of Trento.

Please apply before August 31, 2017.

Read here the full position paper

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