PhD Researcher – Data protection impact assessment in Smart Cities

Brussel - PhD
Meer dan twee weken geleden

Imec-SMIT, a research centre of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is looking for a PhD researcher as part of the SBO SPECTRE, a fundamental research project funded by the Flemish Government. The aim of the project is to expand mandatory data protection impact assessments (DPIA) for smart cities. 



About SMIT

SMIT (Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology) is a research centre of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. It is located on the VUB Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus and is part of the department of Media and Communication Studies (Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences & Solvay Business School), and is embedded as a core group in imec, Flanders world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.

For more than 25 years, imec-SMIT specialises in socio-economic and policy research on ICT innovation in Media, Cities, and Healthcare. Our team consists of around 70 senior and junior researchers with a wide variety in disciplinary backgrounds and nationalities.

What you will do

Research domain

Your PhD will be part of SBO SPECTRE, a fundamental research project funded by the Flemish Government. The aim of the project is to expand mandatory data protection impact assessments (DPIA) for smart cities so that these assessments incorporate other relevant impacts such as negative effects of market concentration.

In SMIT, you will be part of the smart cities unit where we collaborate in smart city initiatives and investigate how their applicability and sustainability can be promoted. You also partake in our privacy, ethics and literacy group which focuses on methods and service offerings related to the latter themes. Both enable you in understanding the bigger picture.

A large part of your PhD will be dedicated to SPECTRE. You will be responsible for the creation and evaluation of bottom-up tools to engage with the many stakeholders involved in or affected by smart city innovations. These tools should enable you to translate complex discipline-specific information such as data processing operations so that various stakeholders without expert knowledge understand and can discuss the envisioned data processing in a smart city.

Tasks include

  • Literature review
  • Development of tools and methods showing significant advancement in privacy, participatory methods and user research
  • Interviews, roundtables, consultations and meetings with professionals, regulators, and policymakers
  • Organization of research seminars and workshops as part of the PhD research
  • Working on publications (peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters) and presenting research findings internally and to the broader academic community
  • Daily project management and reporting to promotor/ project coordinator

What we do for you

  • The opportunity to work four years full time on a PhD track
  • A dynamic and stimulating work environment with enterprising young scientists and experienced senior research staff in an international setting
  • High-quality innovative research on future-oriented services
  • Support and guidance by experienced supervisors/ senior researchers
  • An annually renewed bursary contract for four years.

Who you are

  • Master in communication sciences, political science, sociology, economy or similar with outstanding academic results.
  • Good broad knowledge of ICT and smart cities.
  • Good knowledge of economic and/or social science research methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) or prepared to acquire this knowledge in a short timeframe.
  • Having an interdisciplinary background (social sciences combined with legal or technical) is a plus.
  • Able to work independently, good self-management and planning skills.
  • Flexible attitude when working in a dynamic environment with a variety of professional interlocutors.
  • Analytical thinking and excellent academic writing skills.
  • You have the ambition to obtain a PhD title and the perseverance to complete this within 4 years.
  • Excellent command of academic English is an absolute requirement.
  • Being able to interview in Dutch is something you already can or are willing to learn in a short timeframe.


Please submit your email application including full CV and motivation letter to Wim Cloots on before 28th February 2017.


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