Posts Tagged ‘vu’

Towards an Emerging CS Student Community for Regreening Africa: Random Impressions of our First Workshop

April 22, 2012

Group photo of the First Web alliance for Regreening in Africa Student mini-symposium

Two years after the kick off (reported here), we are gaining a lot of momentum with the Regreening Africa initiative.

Last Friday, 20 April, we organized a first mini workshop with master students who are conducting their master thesis project in the context of a Web for Regreening Africa. The Web Alliance for Regreening Africa initiative is primarily  funded by two running EC-funded research projects W4RA and m-Voices. However, regarding the societal relevance we are convinced we can deliver a convincing bargain for  a larger community of interest to emerge. We have many communities in mind; this workshop aimed at a community at VU of master/PhD students branching their research out from the central theme, but we also have established social networks such as Diaspora and ITGlobal in mind from which we aim to source content contributions.

Our main goal, hence bargain, is to establish a Web of African content through several microprojects. A selection:

  • crowdsourcing app for converting pluvial observation data in the Sahel;
  • crowdsourcing app for gathering voice fragments in different languages that can be used for voice-based services
  • a sustainability analysis for voice-based event organizer;
  • RadioMarché: distributed market information system for non-timber tree forest products;
  • linked data mash ups for NGOs.

This workshop was a first step in bringing VU Computer Science students’ projects together from Ghana, Ethiopia, Buthan, Iran, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Suriname, etc. For an overview of the different lines we are exploring check our CAiSE 2012 position paper and ESWC 2012 poster and paper (to be published soon, see list below). Next, some impression from the projects. From my point of view, the meeting was a succes and we agreed to organize a second installment later this year.

Master students from around the Globe: The Netherlands, Iran, Buthan, Zimbabwe / South Africa, and Ethiopia.

Historical pluvial data from regions in the Sahel captured on paper. Binyam Tesfa develops an app to source a crowd willing to convert this data into digital format.

In order to realise voice-based services for various dialects present in the Sahel, Roksareh Nakhaei builds an app that sources a crowd to produce voice fragments. The tasks here require specific language skills, so we cannot source from any general social network such as Facebook.


A mobile event organiser is one of the case studies identified in the m-Voices project. Through voice-based interfaces (using radio or phone) events can be published and consumed. The goal of this project, done by Albert Chifura is to analyse the cost of setting up such infrastructure, hence involvin a "business" sustainability model analysis.


First design of a sustainability assessment of M-event organiser identifying stakeholders and value exchange between them (courtesy of Albert Chifura).

Related publications:

  • Bon, A.; de Boer, V.; De Leenheer, P.; van Aart, C.; Gyan, N.; Akkermans, H. (2012)  The Web of Radios – Introducing African Community Radio as an Interface to the Web of Data. In Proc. of ESWC 2012: 1st Int’l Workshop on Downscaling the Semantic Web, LNCS, Springer, to appear
  • de Boer, V.; Gyan, N.; Bon, De Leenheer, P.; van Aart, C.; Gyan, N.; Akkermans, H. (2012) Voice-based Access to Linked Market Data in the Sahel. In Proc. of ESWC 2012: 1st Int’l Workshop on Downscaling the Semantic Web, LNCS, Springer, to appear
  • de Boer, V.; De Leenheer, P.; Bon, A.; van Aart, C.; Tuyp, W., Boyera, S.; Allen, M.; Akkermans, H.; Gueret, C. (2012) RadioMarché: Distributed Voice- and Web-interfaced Market Information Systems under Rural Conditions. In Proc. of CAiSE 2012, in press

Amsterdam Universities are Ready to Business Semantics Glossify

September 15, 2011

The Business Semantics Glossary is set up and empty. 35 students from both VU University as the University of Amsterdam are teamed up to compete for building the best glossary and make use of it for the most original semantic application.

Applying the Business Semantics Management methodology, they have to assign roles (stewards, admins, stakeholders) and tasks in the brand new workflow system (see the resp. menu in the screenshot).

Hey business man, are you taking charge of your data?

August 16, 2011

Industrial analysts like Gartner and thought leaders all around agree that information should be treated as a reliable asset that drives many operational and strategic decisions. Along this line, information governance is an emerging business strategy attempting to regain competitive advantage from earlier investments in data management technologies.  In a recent survey, IBM found that 65% of companies from various sectors across the USA – are eager to roll out information governance even before the next business year ends. The question however remains.

What is information governance about and how exactly should we implement it?

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach as claimed by many software vendors, or does every organization require a unique plan?

At the VU University in Amsterdam, Ramon sistermans and me are looking to find an empirical answer to these questions. Through a survey we can identify information governance needs at different layers of the company and find out how technology vendors can gear their products towards meeting these needs.

To all data professionals worldwide, please help us enlighten the dark concept of Information Governance by filling out our survey:

A Prezi presentation on how to bring a successful presentation alive

June 7, 2010
Today I gave a talk on making and giving an attractive presentation. It was held in the context of a seminar in the second (BSc) year in Computer Science at VU Amsterdam. During the 6-week role-playing seminar students form teams, learn (by doing) to critically analyse papers on a hot research topic, give convincing presentations on their opinion, and criticize other teams’ presentations.
My inspiration for the talk came from a slide set from vinamaria on Slideshare, where she introduces SUCCES, an acronym for 6 qualities a talk should have: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and story-telling. Of course this exercise was a bit tricky: obviously, I had to fulfill these qualities myself in my presentation to the students. Hence, to be at least a bit successful giving this presentation, I did not use PPT or Keynote but Prezi. This tool supports a radically new approach to building a talk outline base on a random tag cloud. It took some time to learn to use it, and I think I managed to produce something acceptable for a first time. See for yourself: