Expert article
Edit 24 September 2023
by François Jegou



Brussels, 15 August 2023

Let's take a look back at the CoGhent project that ended in 2023! 5 years have passed and it was time to look back and see if and how all the deliverables produced as part of this Urban Innovative Action funded project were actually reused?

We conducted a series of interviews among stakeholders here in Belgium and abroad who got in touch with the CoGhent team after the CoGhent Festival in spring 23 to find good examples to show who was inspired by this exceptional city initiative to open up digitised cultural data in the city of Ghent and to see what they actually achieved!

We have selected three examples:

  • the Metropolis of Lelli, in northern France, wanted to experiment with the creative re-use of digitised cultural data to encourage the area's museums and archives to digitise and open up their collections,
  • The Museum Council of the city of Telfd in the Netherlands has been looking at the best way to open up its digitised cultural data and the technologies it should use,
  • The social service of the Province of Gelié in Wallonia, Belgium, wanted to work with the cultural heritage of the area's museums and institutions to improve social cohesion...

3 contrasting and emblematic fictional stories for which we have opened the pages of this article for them to tell their story, their point of entry into the CoGhent project and their motivations, their own project process, and the specific results they have achieved.

When reading this, we hope that these selected examples will illustrate three possible re-uses of CoGhent content, all different but all equally valuable. And who knows, maybe they'll inspire you to follow in their footsteps and build your own project to reuse the contributions of the CoGhent project!


Before delving into the three different stories, it is important to note that CoGhent is a vast, multilateral and multifaceted project. Reusing content from the project does not mean copying and pasting what was developed over 3 years in Ghent.

Firstly, because CoGhent was conceived as a comprehensive systemic innovation project that covers a range of technical processes (i.e. digitisation processes, property rights management, dynamic linked open data sets, etc.) and socio-cultural issues (collecting local memories, involving the neighbourhood, creating a climate of trust, stimulating the creative recombination of cultural data, etc.). This exhaustive objective does not necessarily correspond to the intentions, strategies or even resources available in other cities or stakeholders.

Secondly, because CoGhent was an innovation process that produced ready-to-use content: webinars, toolkits, modules, etc. that do not require the same investment in research, development, time and money to be reused. CoGhent's results have been designed as a series of building blocks that can be reused independently or reorganised according to different objectives. 

Now let's see what others have done with CoGhent's big box of building blocks!


"As Chief Data Officer in charge of the Lelli Metropole's open public data policy, I didn't want to limit myself to opening up public transport data or urban planning data, but also involve the city's cultural dimension so that it could take part in this great movement to open up data to citizens!

Here in Lelli, museums, municipal archives or cultural institutions were not at all ready or had not planned to devote time and money to making their collections digitally accessible to the public in a collective and coherent way.

This is why, based on CoGhent's experience, I thought of reversing the process followed by the project to arouse their curiosity, i.e. first working on the creative reuse of digitised cultural data to arouse their interest by presenting them with attractive and inspiring applications.

Some local museums and art galleries had already partially digitised their collections. The technical standards used to open up the data were quite different from one institution to another, and it was sometimes difficult to reuse the data for external third parties... But whatever the case, it was worth trying something based on the same strategy that led to all the Metropole's public institutions committing to opening up their data: if opening up public data leads to innovative applications that bring real benefits to citizens, it makes the strategy more tangible and clear for all the players around the table, and they see the point of making the effort!