Ghent (Belgium)

Pilot Description

Policy Challenge: Ghent would like to understand how big data sources can provide valid and accurate information for policy decisions, which may serve as a complement to traditional statistics, but also as entry point to phenomena inaccessible until now by analysing only the traditional registration data. One such example is the large population of students in Ghent, which are not registered in the local population register. Ghent has the biggest student population of all the Flemish Cities (70.000 students). But only 14% of them are registered residents of Ghent; others stay in student lodgings during the week or commute to Ghent.  So, the exact number of students in lodgings or their address is unknown to the city. Their mobility behaviour is not known either, this makes it hard to make urban planning and mobility policy around their needs.  The Data and Information Service of the Ghent City Council has extensive experience in providing data-analyses and insights to support operational and strategic decisions, and recognises that big data from mobile phones provides a promising source for enhancing accurate population, migration and mobility information to gain new insights. Understanding the mobility behaviour of students will allow for experimentation with this data to create more effective mobility and urban planning policy that meets everyone's needs.  


Policy Stage: Gent will focus on the policy design stage, using data visualisations to identify needs and options.


Data to be Used: Available datasets include mobile data (but a calibration point is needed), Registry, The student lodging dataset, The number of resident non-registered students, and Their mobility behaviour. Other data that can be leveraged for policy visualisations includes information about traffic accidents, traffic density, is available from current data providers. Static traffic accident data and data coming from mobile phone providers.  Additional available data includes; Data to check policy implementations like low emission zones. ANPR cameras used for access control of low emission zones. This data can be used to measure the traffic into the city centre; Data to define “trajected control” areas where speed is measured in a zone instead of one spot. 


Collaboration Actions: Ghent will run a series of scenario development and validation workshops with stakeholders to use PoliVisu Playbox to evaluate mobility behaviour and identify key policy questions.


Expected Outcome: Ghent expects to gain a better understanding of the mobility behaviour of students in Flanders and use it to contribute to innovative regional policy making.

Recently, the city used a visual storytelling technique to present the results of its pilot. View the Ghent's story here.

Other Ghent Case Studies

About Ghent

Ghent is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province, and the second largest municipality in Belgium, after Antwerp.[2] The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.


The municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the surrounding towns of AfsneeDesteldonkDrongenGentbruggeLedebergMariakerkeMendonkOostakkerSint-AmandsbergSint-Denijs-WestremSint-Kruis-WinkelWondelgem and Zwijnaarde. With 260,467 inhabitants in the beginning of 2018,[3] Ghent is Belgium's second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,205 km2 (465 sq mi) and has a total population of 594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most populous in Belgium.[4][5] The current mayor of Ghent is Mathias De Clercq

The ten-day-long Ghent Festival (Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held every year and attended by about 1–1.5 million visitors.



About PoliVisu Partner: Stad Gent

The City of Ghent will co-develop and pilot the methodology within PoliVisu. It will plan and coordinate this process among the cities, and make sure that local requirements are met. To this end, the city will ensure that it engages the right resources, both involving the local decision-makers, the experts in policy development, and the experts working on data management, statistical analysis and ICT solutions.

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