City-Stories: Spatio-temporal search over crowdsourced content (Finished)


The City Stories project aims to develop a smartphone app that makes Basel's urban history accessible in a new and innovative way. In the GoFind! app, historical pictures, videos and even 3D models are shown at their original location so that users can compare the current view with the historical one. For this, City Stories applies concepts of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to display historic multimedia content.  For example, it is possible to "browse through time" by overlying one or several historic photos with the current camera view of the smartphoneand fading smoothly from one photo to another, thereby highlighting the common parts of a city view and the ones that have changed over time. With this, City Stories provides a window into the past.

In a recent collaboration with the Basel University Library, City Stories got access to historic city maps and in particular to a full 3D reconstructtion of the Basel Merian plan from 1615. In her Bachelor's thesis, Rahel Arnold has integrated both into City Stories' GoFInd! smartphone app. It is now possible to show, at any location in the Basel city center (within the city walls of 1615) to display the city buildings of that time in VR.

General City Stories Project Description

A driving force behind the development of novel services tailored to the needs of citizens is the increasing flexibility of social time. Even though city residents may possess valuable information for other citizens visiting their home area, it is hardly usable with today's information systems because of the inevitably scattered information resources. Considering the explosive growth of information, knowledge sharing can ensure valuable interdisciplinary applications and services development. While many organizations propose relevant data sets, they are hardly accessed, analyzed and reused in an integrated way –despite of the enormous added value such integration would have– because of the heterogeneity of formats, the lack of interoperability, and the inappropriate support for information browsing and visualization. The City-Stories platform for data crowdsourcing and spatio-temporal knowledge visualization will overcome these limitations by jointly addressing three tightly coupled challenges. First, data integration responsible for locating, extracting, and syntactically aligning heterogeneous data. Second, novel approaches to spatio-temporal multimedia search and browsing on top of the integrated data, providing users new perspectives and query types to explore these data. Third, the knowledge crowdsourcing and visualization responsible for gathering users' content and enrich this content with linked data services, in order to offer a novel way of knowledge visualization. From a high-level perspective, City-Stories platform is composed of three main modules:


City-Stories successfully participated at Innovation Basel 2016, a challenge of the Basel Guilds and Honorary Societies, and was awarded third place (jointly with the Blickwinkel project). A summary of the City-Stories project (in German) as presented at Innovation Basel 2016 can be found here. The following video shows the midterm report of the joint project of City-Stories with projekt BLICKWINKEL at Innovation Basel 2016:


Start / End Dates

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2019


Funding Agencies

Hasler Foundation


Total project funding: 392'672.- CHF, project funding UNIBAS: 128'961.- CHF.

The project has been extended for two more years (City-Stories II) with a total budget of 387'100.- CHF; project funding at UNIBAS: 125'872.- CHF.


Research Topics