Birth of the Joint Research Center for Digital Humanities and Future Cities

02/23/2013 - 00:30 PM

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VENICE – Opening of the Joint Research Center for Digital Humanities and Future Cities in Venice, the result of a collaboration project between two prestigious institutions, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, linking computer science and the humanities, and in collaboration with Telecom Italia which will make its technological and service know-how available for specific research and development projects.

The advanced Research Center is located in the heart of Venice in the convent of San Salvador at the Telecom Italia Future Centre and will comprise advanced training activities, specialist laboratories and interdisciplinary project teams.

The cutting edge technological know-how of the Swiss school links up with the Venetian  expertise in humanities combined with information technology: a significant opportunity for study and development of innovative projects for young researchers from all over the world, an advanced training and research incubator in Venice - a pioneering study location -  and an extraordinary chance to create an innovative international study environment. With the collaboration and technological know-how of Telecom Italia, its main industrial partner, the Center will benefit from the most advanced innovation technology to explore the past and present of Venice. 

The first challenge of Digital Humanities Venice will be to reconstruct the past of the lagoon city and transform its present to project it towards the future, identifying in this process a prototype for studies of the future city and conservation of its cultural and environmental heritage.

Some potential fields of research have been identified for implementation of the first projects:

- Content engineering via new interfaces;

- Virtual Continuum and its applicability to Cultural Heritage;

- City Monitoring and Ambient Intelligence;

- Environmental economics and statistical mechanics;

- The city as a complex adaptive system.

The agreement establishing the Joint Research Centre for Digital Humanities and Future Cities in Venice, which will be known under the abbreviation Digital Humanities Venice (DHV), will be signed today by the Rector of Ca’ Foscari Carlo Carraro, the President of EPFL Patrick Aebischer and the President of Telecom Italia, Franco Bernabè. Underlining its international character and importance, the agreement will be signed in the presence of the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Francesco Profumo, and the Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation,  Mauro dell’Ambrogio. The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, will be a guest at the opening ceremony. 

”The establishment of this Center represents a great result in the field of advanced research in Digital Humanities. By combining the specific competences of Ca’ Foscari in the area of humanities and those of the Polytechnic of Lausanne in the field of technology, we will be able to achieve ambitious goals, involving a team of researchers who will have the chance to study and advance research, thus contributing to the development of the city of Venice,” explains Carlo Carraro, rector of Ca’ Foscari. “The projects which the Laboratory will now begin to develop – some of which are candidates for European Research Council funding – constitute a potential meeting point for study areas which have always kept their distance but are decidedly promising in terms of new promotion of our cultural heritage. Some of the first projects to be developed will be those focusing on new modes of access to and enjoyment of artistic and cultural content, archive digitalization and related content engineering, governance of urban systems and smart cities, seen from the point of view of artistic and cultural heritage.”

”The digitalization of archives, advances in sensor technology and the ubiquity of personal and embedded devices, says Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL, these are only a few examples of how today’s technology can transform collaborations between humanities and science to create a virtual model of Venice.”

Franco Bernabè, President of Telecom Italia: ”Artistic and cultural resources are a fundamental element for the revival of our economy and an intelligent use of digital technologies can contribute to realisation of their full potential. The aim of our collaboration with the prestigious Ca’ Foscari University and  EPFL of Lausanne in Digital Humanities is to develop ideas and projects in this field in Venice. In addition to representing an incredible artistic and environmental heritage, we want Venice to become a pilot city for modes of access to, and enjoyment and study of artistic resources.”