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Paisagens sonoras históricas

As tecnologias. Registo sonoro

A responsive platform for the Auditory Atlas of Évora

João Rosário, Armanda Rodrigues et Nuno Correia


In this paper, we will review and describe the steps taken so far to develop the Auditory Atlas of the City of Évora, part of the PASEV Project - Patrimonialization of Évora's Soundscape (1540 - 1910). One of the aims of this project is to map as many historical sound events as possible in the city of Évora from 1540 (creation of Évora's Archbishopric) to 1910 (beginning of Republic in Portugal). In this context, we are developing a repository to support the compilation of audio and visual documents being collected by the project partners, with the aim of enabling the visitor to experience these documents as he immerses himself in the city. We aim to develop several interactive tools to facilitate different experiences of these artifacts, from thematic itineraries to explore historical musical scenarios through to various virtual platforms, such as apps (e.g. for smartphones), which may be enriched by the visitor in loco in the city.
In this paper, we present the current status of an initial technological infrastructure for supporting the evolving responsive map based interactive platform of the city of Évora. We present its development, functionality and the results of an evaluation procedure.

Texte intégral


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1The soundscape (CASALEIRO & QUINTELA, 2008) is characterized by an overlap of different types of sounds in one place, allowing the understanding of how each sound characterizes that same place. With this notion, it is possible to add music to the soundscape of a place, as an element of it, from a comprehensive contextual perspective1. Thus, it became useful to preserve and share a cultural heritage, explored through the study and analysis of the musical activity present in that space. This can be achieved through the use of current digital technologies as engines to support the study, management, maintenance and dissemination of auditory or auditory related information. You can take advantage of new technologies, creating a digital platform that gathers different information within the scope of the soundscape, as well as tourist routes in these areas of influence, with the aim of disseminating this knowledge.

2The continuous evolution of technology allows human beings to increasingly experience and develop new perspectives on the world, with mobile technology being one of the most responsible for this event. Mobile devices (such as smartphones) have created a whole new panorama around ubiquitous computing where, based on their sensory and receiving capabilities, it is possible to provide contextualized information to the user.

3The contextual information offered by sensors and receivers associated with the use of this platform, allows a personalized experience for the user, since it adapts to the environment in which she finds herself. These devices include the GPS (Global Positioning System), which detects the user's current position and allows services based on location, which are widely used in tourist and cultural contexts. Another important sensor, somewhat overlooked today due to its presence in mobile phones since its inception, is the microphone, which converts sound into electrical signals, making it possible, for example, to make a simple telephone call. However, the potential uses of the microphone as a sensor providing contextualized information, are diverse and very promising as in The Hush City in (Radicchi, 2018), concerned with understanding the complex nature of noise pollution and, therefore, improving quality living in urban areas.

4To guarantee the success of this type of service, it is important to provide an easy-to-understand interface for the user, such as the cartographic map, an age-old metaphor, which is the most interactive and insightful element in providing information from georeferenced data. The use of the map in mobile tourism allows the user to find places of public or even personal interest and create personalized cultural itineraries. Music as a soundscape can then take advantage of this reality, since it is possible to map it, through its association with a location and subsequent integration into the routes created and visualization on the map. In addition to this mapping, since sound has not yet achieved the importance and space it deserves in applications of this kind, it is interesting to allow the user to record the environment surrounding these locations, sharing it with other users, and providing an attractive and beneficial exploration.

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5Project PASEV2, acronym for "Patrimonialization of Évora’s Soundscape (1540-1910)", has as its primary objective the appreciation and dissemination of the heritage of the auditory landscape of the city of Évora between 1540 and 1910 and the promotion of cultural tourism in the city. This project aims to explore the maximum number of historical sound events in the city of Évora from 1540 (creation of the Archdiocese of Évora) until 1910 (beginning of the Portuguese Republic). This is a study of major interest due to the richness of the sound landscape in the municipality, covering musical activity from churches, convents, squares and theatres, among others. In this way, it is plausible to "reconstruct contexts, circuits and routes and map the presence of music and musicians”3, allowing to create a compilation of audio and visual testimonies, preserved digitally, which, through virtual platforms, will provide a different and interesting experience to city visitors.

6As part of PASEV, we intend to achieve the complete realisation of the Auditory Atlas of Évora, of which the work presented in this paper is the initial step, and which will involve the capture and structuring of several types of multimedia information, as well as the development of different interfaces to present and interact with this data. We present the development process for a prototype of a responsive platform geographically supported by the interactive map of the city of Évora, the first attempt leading to the Auditory Atlas of the City of Évora.

7As its initial aims the platform must allow, without much configuration, use through various devices, while enabling the exploration of multimedia materials linked to the soundscape of Évora, in space and time, integrating these two dimensions. Moreover, the implementation should support narratives and storytelling, allowing the representation of events that evolve spatially over time. The developed platform thus allows an exploration of places regarding their musical and cultural dimension at different times, facilitating the interaction between the user and those same places, through the visualization and manipulation of georeferenced data sets. In addition to the main objective indicated, it was intended to create a map that contained relevant and influential locations, associated with visual and auditory representations (photos, drawings, sounds, music, videos), with the main focus on musical elements, which can either, be represented by audio files, or written on printed scores. The platform will also integrate spatio-temporal narratives, to enable thematic travel through the city, taking advantage of the geographic elements mentioned above. This has partially been achieved in the current prototype and will be further developed in future versions. Finally, a back-office interface, enabling facilitated data insertion by soundscapes specialists has been included, to allow for the growth of the database, after the end of the project

8Several institutions and research units are involved in the project: the University of Évora (UE), NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NOVA FCSH) and NOVA School of Science and Technology (NOVA FCT). From these institutions, the participating research units are the Centre for the Study of the Sociology and Aesthetics of Music (CESEM), the Centre for Overseas History (CHAM) and the NOVA Laboratory for Computer Science and Informatics (NOVA LINCS). The work presented in this paper is being developed by the NOVA LINCS team.

Document Organisation

9This rest of this document is divided into the following 5 sections:

  • The Related work presents several examples of existing applications that contain features similar to the work presented in this paper and which contributed as inspiration to its development;

  • In the Solution design, the process used to design the platform is described, which consisted of capturing data and modelling it, including the enumeration of the technologies used and the architecture created to support the platform;

  • The following section describes, in detail, the development of the platform, including its main features.

  • A short section describes the results of the preliminary evaluation process of the platform;

  • Finally conclusions are draw and future developments are proposed.

Related Work

10In this section, several applications are presented that contain features which have served as inspiration to the development of the PASEV Platform. We have analysed digital, web and responsive platforms, involving the study and analysis of culturally relevant geo-referenced data, with a temporal dimension. Also, platforms that involve the handling of multimedia and specifically auditory information have been considered as well as the use of gamification and storytelling techniques, which we aim to include in our solution.

11In Radicchi (2018) a survey is made of the state of the art of applications that deal with noise capture and sound maps. For the purpose of this work, we are interested in mobile applications with the ability to collect qualitative and quantitative data related to the sound environment, such as noise pressure levels, audio recordings, user feedback, images, and even mobile applications with the ability to represent data collected through web-based maps, such as noise maps and/or sound maps. The Hush City application, launched in April of 2017, was considered, by the authors, the most complete. It is a tool for capturing, analysing and mapping silent areas of everyday life, with relevant innovative aspects coming from the data collection and its consultation process. The application allows the sequential collection, on one location and by the same user, of a complex set of mixed data: audio recordings and respective noise pressure levels; images of the place where the sounds were recorded; feedback of the user regarding the space where the sounds were recorded. Contextual data is collected through a questionnaire that seeks to understand the "health” of that place and also requests other types of additional information. Regarding the consultation process, the application offers the filter "daily quiet areas", identified and evaluated by users according to the perception of stillness, sound pressure levels and semantic descriptors. It is also possible to access all data collected by users through a web platform (See Figure 1). Clicking on the button “Quiet areas", the background map darkens, and two different views are offered: the map view mode and the list view mode. In the case of the map view, coloured markers are displayed on the background map, and each colour is automatically associated to the noise pressure levels of each recorded sound. Finally, it is also possible to access the data collected at each location (date, time, address, images, among others) by clicking on the associated marker.

Figure 1a) - Hush City application - Map with clusters

Figure 1a) - Hush City application - Map with clusters

Figure 1b) - Hush City application - Coloured markers

Figure 1b) - Hush City application - Coloured markers

Figure 1c) - Hush City application - Audio recording view

Figure 1c) - Hush City application - Audio recording view

12StreetMusicMap (Bacchieri, 2014) is a collaborative multimedia platform of a set of street music artists from around the world. The platform's objective is to promote exchanges between musicians, fans and music lovers and also to become a communication network between the vast world of street musicians. Sharing is accomplished through publishing of videos recorded by users, and it is possible to post a performance by a street musician on the platform by sending an email to the application or by placing the video directly on social networks by using the hashtag #streetmusicmap, identifying the artist, the location of the recording and who made the recording. Later, it is possible to access the shared content directly through social networks or on the web platform, which includes a map-based interface, a collection of videos, a podcast and music playlists. The platform’s interactive map presents clickable markers in the various places where the recordings were made and shared, enabling contextual viewing of the recordings, including the artist's name, the address of the artist, their location and the identification of who shot the film. There are also several possibilities for querying the map (by artist's name, country or city).

13In Santos et al (2017), the prototype version of a mobile application is presented with the main objective of promoting and disseminating the natural heritage of Parque Biológico de Gaia4, describing its development, evaluation phase and conclusions. The application tries to achieve scientific dissemination in a tourist context, with georeferenced information, including scientific illustrations and taking advantage of gamification. The main map geo-references the park’s points of interest established by the correspondence between geographical coordinates and the stylized map of the park. Each point of interest has associated scientific information relevant to the user and whenever she passes by a strategically defined point, the application unlocks mini-games related to the place. Another interesting feature offered is the virtual animal detector (figure \ ref {fig: radar}), which contains a radar that is activated when the user is close to the hypothetical coordinates of an animal and notifies him whenever he is very close to it. When clicking on the notification, first an image of the "discovered" animal appears, and on the second click information about that animal is displayed. The user also has a gallery containing the image of all the animals already "collected", and he can click on any of them and see their respective information again. Finally, the results of an evaluation made through a survey of some participants are presented, highlighting the positive opinion regarding the educational component of the mini-games and the interest and relevance of the information presented.

Figure 2 - Geografia Platform - Animal detector, information and photo gallery

Figure 2 - Geografia Platform - Animal detector, information and photo gallery

14The Geografia platform (Silva, 2012), an authoring environment for creating geo narratives, allows community managers to aggregate data resources in the creation of narrative segments to be made available to members of the community, while assigning them to geographic locations. These segments can then be manipulated in linear or non-linear story structures. These managers or administrators request narrative resources from members of the community, such as digital slideshows, images, text, audio narration or movie clips, and later upload them to the platform server, associating geographic markers with each asset and editing its behaviour. Thus, the Geografia platform consists of three main stages: authorship, through a library of bookmarks to store and edit nodes in a narrative as well as the corresponding assets; testing, by offering a preview website for external viewing and testing; and presentation, providing the final product, a mobile web application for viewing on site.

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15The LITESCAPE5 platform (accessed in February 2019) (Almas et al, 2015) aims to promote the exploration of places in relation to their literary dimension, facilitating public interaction with literary works and places mentioned in these works, through a collection of maps. In this way, an interactive and responsive web application was developed, allowing the visualization and manipulation of the information captured in the project. The application interface uses different maps, containing markers referring to georeferenced literary data, being possible to click on a marker and get directions or view the literary excerpts associated with that location. It is also possible to follow proposed routes and submit queries on literary works, authors, themes and locations.

16In Gouveia et al (2015) LxConventos is presented, a platform that analyses the transformation and decomposition of religious orders since the 19th century in the city of Lisbon. Users can view and study originally religious buildings and their changes over time, either changes to the building itself or to its surroundings. In this way, LxConventos integrates various types of multimedia data with time reference, enabling the study of the evolution of buildings from that data. This structure is associated with a map-based interactive interface, where the different religious buildings are represented spatially, facilitating access to associated information (text, images and georeferenced drawings and videos) and browsing of its evolutionary representation in 3D (Branco et al, 2015). On the map, places of interest (religious buildings) are represented as polygons, using vector shapefile vector data from shapefiles (ESRI, 2020). Since each building has two different layers in this format, referring to two different periods, it is possible, on the map, to analyse the differences in the spatial extent of the buildings between 1834 and 2015 (Figure 3). Finally, for improved analysis and comparison of the data, the platform allows overlaying of historical cartography on the main map and on the buildings’ representative layers.

Figure 3 - Project Lx Conventos map-based interface

Figure 3 - Project Lx Conventos map-based interface

17Project Historical Soundscapes (Jiménez & Rus, 2015) deals with the concept of soundscape from a historical perspective, involving the cities of Seville and Granada, as centres of musical activity. This web application allows the exploration of the contents mentioned above in both cities, through the visualization of several maps of these cities, containing georeferenced points of interest. It is possible to see on the map several markers, which when clicked, allow access to a list of events related to that same location, and it is also possible to click on an event and access information about it, such as multimedia resources, denoting musical excerpts, and terms related research. It is also possible to search the map on location, time period, type of event and agent involved and also develop self-guided itineraries, such as a processions (Figure 4), presenting the route to follow, the various places of interest where the itinerary passes and the events related to those places.

Figure 4 - Itinerary on Project Historical Soundscapes

Figure 4 - Itinerary on Project Historical Soundscapes

Moving forward

18The related work analysed has provided inspiration for several characteristics of the PASEV Platform. Firstly, two systems aiming at mapping sound and music were analysed. The first application demonstrates how it is possible to take advantage of audio recordings of our surrounding environment at any given time and how to share it with the rest of the community, an idea relevant to this project. The StreetMusicMap platform fits this work, through its musical aspect, in its ability to search not only by place, but also by artist, and also in the possibility of viewing multimedia components in an interaction with bookmarks, highlighting existing video information.

19The idea of using a mobile application to disseminate natural heritage, based on a map containing points of interest, which are associated with unlocking thematic mini-games, can be useful in future developments of interactive narratives on the platform. For the creation of the narratives, the design of the Geografia platform was important in the creation of the authoring interface that allows administrators to add new content to the PASEV Platform.

20Finally, three applications related to the digital dissemination of cultural heritage were considered in the implementation. Their features fit with the functionality developed for the prototype: availability of a relevant and historic collection of maps and interaction with georeferenced data, denoting the possibility of accessing multimedia information regarding places of interest (in LxConventos and Historical Soundscapes). The type of interaction with the locations addressed by LxConventos is more in line with this project, as it allows viewing multimedia content. Both previous applications also allow polygons in the representation of places of interest, but Historical Soundscapes only makes use of this capacity in the proposed itineraries. LxConventos takes advantage of this capacity in order to denote differences in extension of buildings in different time periods. This capacity is quite interesting and was somewhat applied in the developed prototype, but there was not enough data to allow its better exploitation. It is also worth noting the use of historical cartography as a base map, in the case of Historical Soundscapes, and overlaying on the main map, in the case of LxConventos, which is a feature present in our prototype, in order to facilitate data analysis. Regarding the use of interactive narratives, the user's current positioning can be used, as in the LITESCAPE project, as well as its integration with the itineraries routes, as shown in Historical Soundscapes.

21From this analysis, the requirements for the prototype developed, as well as the list of functionalities to be included were selected.

Solution design

22This section presents all the preparation and modelling of the prototype platform created. It starts with the description of the data collection process, followed by the presentation of the concepts used to design the platform. Then, the technologies that were used throughout development are listed. Finally, the general architecture of the system is presented.

Data collection

23Due to the very embryonic phase of the PASEV project, there was initially a deficit of information and materiasl to include in the platform. During the first team meetings, the core concepts inherent to the project were discussed and organized, such as, for example, the definition of Soundscape in the context of the project. It was then necessary to start gathering content to build the application. Thus, the following concepts were established:

  • Testimonial - multimedia file (image, audio, video or text) associated with a reference site and linked to various types of information, such as time period;

  • Time period - historical time period associated with the different testimonies, which will enable space-time searches on the platform;

  • Place - place with a musical and cultural dimension of reference for the project, containing different types of associated information, such as testimonies;

  • Itinerary - itinerary referring to the historical route, such as a procession, defining a specific line that passes through a specified set of reference places;

  • Event - event referring to a contextualized (civic, religious, military and / or popular) demonstration, which may include various testimonies represented by multimedia files, in association with a reference place or even a route (itinerary) and much more relevant information.

Testimonies, Temporal periods and Places

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24Initially, only three types of concepts were considered: testimonies, time periods and places of reference. To this end, a folder was created in Google Drive6, subsequently shared with all project members, in order to place all relevant information for the project, including a sub-folder for the insertion of multimedia materials. A form was also created on Google Forms7, also shared with the entire team, in which whenever someone inserted a new file in the shared folder, to be inserted in the platform as a testimony, he would also have included information, referencing the submitted file, on the form. This information regards both the submitted file, including its historical period, and the location to which it is associated. Finally, each answer was directly saved in a Google Sheets spreadsheet 8and it was through this process that the first data was obtained for the development of the platform.

25Focusing on the concept of time period, it was necessary to establish, from the beginning, a convention that would allow the realization of a space-time search on the platform. In this way, taking into account the context of the domain of the soundscapes of Évora under study by PASEV, contemplating the temporal periods from 1540 to 1910, a temporal structure was created, defining the following temporal periods: "Before 1540", "XVI Century", "XVI Century", "XVI Century", "XIX Century", "XX Century” and" After 1910”.

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26Later, a map was created and shared with the team on Google My Maps9, in order to identify relevant geographic places of the project.

Platform requirements

27After defining the essential concepts for the PASEV project and taking into account the data collected in the meetings with the project team, it was possible to outline the objectives of the first prototype of the PASEV platform, outlining some functional and non-functional requirements, considered indispensable to the platform:

  • Different types of searches of content available in the database, such as locations, types of events, etc;

  • Space-time search tool, capable of ensuring this type of search, through different interactions with the platform map;

  • Visualization of the user's current location, in order to facilitate navigation around the city;

  • Visualization of routes, meeting the objective of enabling support for narratives in the context of the project;

  • Audio recording, allowing users to associate audio recordings with a reference location;

  • Authoring environment, i.e., a simple interface that allows system administrators to add new points of interest, events, multimedia information and even new routes;

  • Viewing and listening to multimedia information, such as sounds, music, images, videos and audio recordings made by other users in contextualized environments;

  • Geovisualization, by overlaying historical cartography on the main map of the application and also marking places of interest, not only through markers, but also using polygons.

28While functional requirements represent the tasks or services offered by the platform, non-functional requirements are responsible for how these tasks or services reach the end user. Thus, the following non-functional requirements were outlined:

  • Usability - the platform must be easy to use for all end users, who must be able to operate the platform after a certain time of adaptation;

  • Responsiveness - the platform must be able to adapt its execution to the type of device used by the end user;

  • Security - access to the platform's authoring environment should be regulated through valid authentication, ensuring the privacy of users' confidential data in interactions with the server and their persistence in the database, making use of encryption. In addition, all methods intended for the system's authoring environment should only respond to authorized users;

  • Persistence - the persistence of the platform must be ensured by a relational database, with the capacity to store the different types of data necessary for the correct functioning of the application.


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29In this project, several technological choices were made, in order to achieve the development of the platform according to the requirements described above. For the development of the database, the PostgreSQL Relational Database Management System10 was used, integrated with the PostGIS11 extension, which enables support for georeferenced data. The prototype implementation was based on Spring12, a Java based platform for web application development integrated with JavaScript libraries, mainly for interactive user interface support (React13) and responsive web design (React Bootstrap14). The Geographic component of the prototype is supported by React Leaflet15 and MapbBox16, with MapBox Studio17.


30The general architecture of the developed platform, including the technologies described above and the way they interact with each other, is presented in Figure 5. This is divided into three layers, described below, and it is possible to find different types of interactions depending on the type of user (normal user or administrator). It should be noted that in the scheme presented, a normal user may only submit audio recordings, either to the platform database or to the multimedia data repository. All other communications of this type are only authorized to the administrator.

Figure 5 - System Architecture

Figure 5 - System Architecture

31Then, the logical layer is divided into two main layers, the server, which was developed in Spring, a framework that implements the MVC architectural pattern, and the client, which was developed in React. The server side is responsible for interacting with the database, namely in obtaining data that will be supplied to the application. In contrast, the client side, which includes Leaflet and Bootstrap, JavaScript-based tools, is responsible for interacting with external services offered by other entities, for handling incoming data received from the client and for processing and sending the received data from the server, from Ajax requests, to the presentation layer. Leaflet supports interactions between the user and the maps provided by MapBox or OpenStreetMap, while Bootstrap allows the creation of responsive interfaces, automatically adapting to the user's device. Note that Bootstrap helps to create this type of interface, but other CSS techniques were used to achieve this goal.

32Finally, the data layer is composed of PostgreSQL with the PostGIS extension PostGIS, responsible for the persistence of all platform data, particularly the data related to administrators, files, locations, itineraries, events and all the geographic data inherent to them. This layer is also constituted by the external multimedia data server, Firebase Storage, where all the multimedia data present on the platform are stored. The main database of the application contains information related to the location of each of these multimedia data through a URL, thus enabling its access on the client side, present in the logical layer.

33As described in this section, data collection was done gradually, and it was through this that it was possible to identify the basic concepts of the developed platform. It should be noted, then, the importance of this phase and of the definition of the platform requirements, in the consolidation of ideas and in obtaining a clear notion of which technologies to consider in their implementation.

34The technology used in development configured different functions in the design of the application. These features offer greater freedom in adapting libraries to the established solution, as well as easier support in solving problems. Finally, it was through the content covered in this section that a more clarified view was obtained of what features such a system should include, which are detailed next.

Platform Development

35This section details all the implementations carried out to obtain the platform, a first prototype implementation for PASEV. Firstly, the database component is described, followed by the description of the application, focused on the platform's graphical interface and its features.


36One of the most important elements of any web application is its database, the way in which data persists and the relationships between its objects, one of the factors with a considerable impact on their final performance.

37As mentioned in the previous section, the relational database system adopted in this project was PostgreSQL with the PostGIS extension, which allowed the manipulation of geometric and geographic objects.

Data Modelling

38Figure 6 shows the simplified diagram of the database, containing its relevant entities.

Figure 6 - Simplified Database diagram

Figure 6 - Simplified Database diagram

39The Administrators table stores the information related to the platform content contributors, which will contain all members of the PASEV project. After authentication, they will be able to access the platform's authoring environment and add new content.

40The Files table, representative of the testimonial concept, and the Points table, representative of the Place concept, respectively contain all the information related to the multimedia files present in the application and their associated reference locations

41In the case of the Files table, of the various attributes it presents, it is worth mentioning the attribute "link” which contains the physical location of the file, stored in the external database (Firebase Storage), the attribute "admin”, which identifies the administrator who submitted the file, and the attribute "point_id”, which associates each file to a reference location present in the "points" table. It is also worth noting the Period table, in association with Files table, depicting the period or historical periods to which a file belongs. These periods were previously defined from the chronological periods studied in the project, which include: "Before 1540", "16th Century", "17th Century", “18th Century”, "19th Century", "20th Century “ and "After 1910”.

42In the Points table, we highlight the attribute "image”, which stores the storage location of the image associated with a given geographic location, the attribute "description”, which stores the specific description of a location, and the attribute "location”, a geographic coordinate, represented by a latitude and a longitude. Also note the table Recordings, also related to the Points table, which stores the addresses for external audio recordings associated with a location.

43The table Itineraries gathers the data associated with the itineraries present on the platform. This is composed of the attribute "name”, "route” (a geometric type that stores the geometric information of each itinerary), and "distance”, which contains the distance in meters of an itinerary. Each itinerary must include a list of Points (places), which must be part of PASEV’s reference locations. In fact, the table Itinerary_point models the relationship between the tables Itineraries and Points.

44Finally, the table Events stores the data alluding to the various events on the platform. This table is the one with the most attributes, most of which are textual and merely informative. Examples of these are the attributes "testimonial_iconographic” (which contains the storage locations of the images associated with the event), "audiovisual” (which stores links to YouTube videos or to external audio files that relate to the different events), and "local_id” and "itinerario_id”, which respectively keep a reference to a place and/or itinerary associated with the event.

45As described above, this database was initially populated from forms and spreadsheets containing information provided by the PASEV team. This data had to be systematically analysed and reviewed, to achieve a collection that could be handled automatically by the tools developed.

Web Application

46In this section, the current PASEV prototype is described in detail, including the various elements of the platform interface and the various functionalities that they are responsible for, using representative images of the interface.

47This application was developed with the concern of adapting it to the different dimensions of the devices, whether fixed or mobile. Although some of the needed adaptations are provided by the characteristics of the development tools used, detailed work had to be developed, for improved results when using diverse devices to access the platform. Therefore, it was necessary to stipulate, from the beginning, four ranges of dimensions, with regard to the width of the screen, each representative of a given device.

48This care was more important for smaller devices, such as smartphones, as the adaptations needed for viewing the content are much more pronounced. Style definitions were associated with different screen dimensions, so as to provide, not only an efficient, but also a pleasant experience to the user.

Interactive Map of Évora

49The main page of the PASEV platform (desktop and mobile) is presented below (Figure 7). This page consists mostly of the map, which occupies almost the entire screen, the Timeline and a very simple navigation bar, which allows administrators to log into the platform's authoring environment (which is only available for desktop and tablet environments, with considerable dimensions).

Figure 7 - PASEV Homepage (desktop and mobile)

Figure 7 - PASEV Homepage (desktop and mobile)

50The map is centralized in the city of Évora, initialized with a zoom level of 14, so that the entire region of the city is visible, and has several built-in elements that provide different types of interactions with it. In the upper left corner is the zoom level controller allowing control of the level of detail of the base map.

51Immediately below is the controller that enables access to the user's current position which, when activated it is a small blue dot with a circle around, allowing the user to always be aware of his current location, even on the move. Activation and deactivation of this functionality is provided through clicking on the controller.

52Regarding the markers superimposed on the map, these were aggregated in clusters to simplify the visualization of the data, in this case the reference locations of the project, previously obtained from the server. This feature allows you to click on a cluster, thus increasing the detail of the map and focusing on the area covered by it. Subsequently, it is still possible to interact with the markers individually (see below).

53Finally, on the right side of the map is a vertical bar with the ability to extend. All details about this bar and the features will be described below.

Viewing multimedia content

54When the user clicks on a bookmark, a popup window appears, with the name of the respective location, an illustrative image, its source, if it exists, address and a "View Content" button.

55By clicking on the button "See content” a modal window is opened (a small window that overlaps the main application window), illustrated in Figures 8 and 9, which may present 5 types of content related to the place in question (if they exist). This window, when opened, includes, as standard content, general information about the place, reflected through an image, its address and also a description. The following 4 contents depict the different media which may be associated with the location (sound, images, videos and texts - bibliography). It is possible to verify the interface adaptation in the two images, more specifically in the case of smaller devices dimensions, where, in the body of the mobile modal window, the description is presented below the representative image of a place, and in its footer, the navigation buttons are oriented vertically.

Figure 8 - Modal window - visualization of multimedia content (desktop)

Figure 8 - Modal window - visualization of multimedia content (desktop)

Figure 9 - Modal windows for visualization of multimedia content (mobile)

Figure 9 - Modal windows for visualization of multimedia content (mobile)

56When selecting audio content, the user can record an audio testimony and submit it to the platform. The user can record an audio file, which can later be stored in the multimedia content repository, if the user decides to upload it to the platform. It is also possible to search for historical audio files, added to the platform by the project members.

57Images are presented in a gallery, where the user can click on one of the images and obtain detailed information about it, with the possibility of viewing the image in its original size, if requested.

58Regarding the videos, the platform allows playing a variety of URLs (web links), including local files, YouTube, Facebook, among others. If there is only one associated video, then only a small window will appear with the possibility of viewing the video and including some controls for viewing, such as the volume. If there is more than one video, then a component will show a gallery of videos, with the option of moving left and right for selecting what to play.

59The bibliography, when selected, displays a list of different text files (in PDF / Word format), which can be clicked and viewed.

Extendable sidebar

60The interaction with the map interface includes an extensible sidebar, allowing overlapping/selection of the base map with additional available datasets, such as, for example, georeferenced historical cartography. Each of these layers can be made visible, with flexible transparency parameters.

61The extensible sidebar is initially shrunk and has 4 icons, and will be extended when the user clicks on one of these icons, as shown in Figures 7 and 10. The extension of the sidebar on the mobile interface uses most of the screen which prevents the user from easily interacting with the map. This problem does not occur on the desktop.

Figure 10a - Extendable sidebar (desktop)

Figure 10a - Extendable sidebar (desktop)

Figure 10b - Extendable sidebar (mobile)

Figure 10b - Extendable sidebar (mobile)

62The sidebar enables the search functionality, allowing for two types of searches: a search by place name and a search directed to the events, being possible in the latter to filter by event type, locations and sound category. When searching for places, you can click on one of the places in the list and, as a result, the map centres on the selected. The event search shows results in a, with the possibility of clicking on one of them and viewing its information.

63The separator (icon) immediately below is the layer controller, which allows changing the base map of the platform or superimposing historical cartography on the map (with a transparency parameter), adding markers related to ancient religious orders and other relevant project sites, and also superimpose polygons that delimit some of the reference sites.

64The third tab is reserved for the platform itineraries. Whenever this tab is opened, a list of all itineraries is displayed. The user can then select one of them and view its extension on the main map, associated with the list of places that form the itinerary. In Figures 11 and 12, it is possible to view an itinerary on the platform on the desktop and mobile environment, respectively, which is shown on the main map, superimposed by a historical cartography of Évora.

Figure 11 - Itinerary Visualization (desktop)

Figure 11 - Itinerary Visualization (desktop)

Figure 12a - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – map

Figure 12a - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – map

Figure 12b - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – list

Figure 12b - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – list

65The last tab is for events, where the user can view a list with the name of all events on the platform. It is possible to search by the event name and after clicking on one of the results, observe all the information inherent to it. In this information, if the event has a location or an associated itinerary, it is possible to click and view, on the map, the centred marker or the itinerary route.


66The Timeline grants access to temporal search on the platform, with two types of possible interaction, as explained below. As previously mentioned, the logic of temporal search is achieved through the classification of testimonies according to the project’s seven historic periods. Two of these time groups are outside the timeline studied and analysed by the project, described as “Before 1540” and “After 1910”, referring to files added exceptionally to the platform, because of special circumstances.

67This component was undoubtedly the most laborious in terms of adapting to the type of device, due to its construction complexity. It was necessary for each of the four representative types of devices, to use different measures for the height of the divisions referring to the separators (1540 and 1910), for their margins and also for the font size of the text. Enabling the adaptation of the Timeline to all types of devices considered implied resizing of the nodes of the component, as well as the name of the centuries and of the general component.

68At the start of use, the Timeline nodes for the different time periods are all selected, meaning that all periods are selected for viewing on the map. To interact with the Timeline, and filter the results, the user must deselect a time period node and all files of this period will be removed from view (Figure 13). It can be seen in the figure that, when deselecting the "19th Century", there was a change in the main map, where the number of visible places decreased considerably.

Figure 13a - Interaction Timeline-Map (desktop)

Figure 13a - Interaction Timeline-Map (desktop)

Figure 13b - Interaction Timeline-Map (mobile)

Figure 13b - Interaction Timeline-Map (mobile)

69The second type of interaction with the Timeline happens automatically whenever a change is made on the zoom level of the map or when the map is panned. When this type of change is applied on the map view, the Timeline also changes accordingly, detecting which historical periods are associated with the markers/files currently viewed.

Figure 14a - Interaction Map-Timeline (desktop)

Figure 14a - Interaction Map-Timeline (desktop)

Figure 14b - Interaction Map-Timeline (mobile)

Figure 14b - Interaction Map-Timeline (mobile)

Authoring Environment

70One of the objectives of this dissertation was to develop an authoring environment that would allow members of the PASEV project to add new content to the platform. In this way, a new page was implemented, answering to this objective, with authenticated access. Moreover, this authoring environment is only accessible on the desktop environment or on tablets with a considerable size.

71In Figure 15, you can see the modal window that allows platform administrators to do the proper authentication.

Figure 15 - Authentication at the authoring environment

Figure 15 - Authentication at the authoring environment

72If authentication is successful, the administrator is immediately redirected to the authoring environment page, shown in Figure 16, otherwise a red alert will appear indicating that the credentials entered are wrong.

Figure 16 - Authoring environment

Figure 16 - Authoring environment

73Already authenticated in the authoring environment, the administrator has at his disposal four tabs, each with a form dedicated to the insertion of files, places, itineraries or events. Only the insertions of places and itineraries will be detailed, since they use some more complex mechanisms besides the classic text entry and selection fields.

74Starting with the insertion of new places, we can see an example of the filling in of the form, in Figure 17. As you can see in the figure, it is necessary to fill in the name of the new place, add a description and upload a representative image. Immediately underneath are the fields associated with the geographic location, and these fields can be filled in automatically by clicking on the map or by dragging the marker to the desired location. It is also possible to edit these automatically filled fields in order to provide more accurate and concise information.

Figure 17 - Add place form

Figure 17 - Add place form

75In the case of the insertion of new itineraries, the methodology used is a little more complex than the previous one. Initially, the administrator adds a name to the itinerary and then begins production. To design an itinerary, the administrator must add all the places, in order, where the route will pass, and the added places will appear on the map through an enumerated marker.

Figure 18 - Inserting and itinerary

Figure 18 - Inserting and itinerary

76In Figure 18, an example of a route drawing is visible. Whenever the button is clicked to start this type of editing, the displayed route is the one that contains the path with the shortest distance between consecutive reference points. To make changes to the paths between the different points, just click on the line that connects them and an auxiliary marker will appear, unnumbered, which can be dragged to where you want the route to pass.

77After making the necessary changes, the administrator must click on the "Stop drawing route" button and, to complete the insertion of the itinerary, on the "Submit" button.

78Throughout this, implementation of details of both the database and the PASEV platform's web application were described, giving a comprehensive perception of the general functioning of the application, from its structure at the level of the data layer to its interaction with the presentation layer. Details on the structuring and representation of the application were also provided in line with the requirements outlined before.

79An evaluation process was also implemented, which is briefly described in the next section, essentially referring to the usability of the interface and the usefulness of the functionalities, with the aim of validating the fulfilment of the requirements and obtaining as much information as possible for future improvements.

Evaluation results

80A brief evaluation of the prototype was realised with the aim of collecting qualitative opinions that could provide information on future improvements of the platform and also evaluate the overall performance of this first prototype, measuring the impact of the design on the user and understanding if the requirements defined for the platform, in the context of PASEV, were being fulfilled.

81Although the total sample of testers was not very high - 37 people, with 30 user volunteers and 7 domain expert users - it was possible to ascertain through the results that users, in general, consider the application usable. Learnability and usability of the interface was also evaluated, with positive results.

82The questionnaire section on specific usability and utility issues allowed us to collect feedback from study participants. This was very important, insofar as it was possible to detect application problems and interaction difficulties, as well as collect suggestions for solving them.

83Through user responses, it is possible to verify that the Timeline had usability issues. Although they thought this component is important and relevant, the testers did not understand how to use it, and stated that this functionality should have a larger-scale reformulation.

84From this evaluation. It was also possible to verify that expert users, members of the PASEV project, did not show difficulties in using the authoring environment of the platform. It was also possible to understand, through the responses to specific requirements questions, that this first prototype answers the basic requirements of an Historical Soundscape Platform, with direct application in the city of Évora.

Conclusions and future developments

85In this paper we have presented the process behind the development of the first prototype of a responsive platform for the Auditory Atlas of Évora, supported geographically by the interactive map of the city ​​of Évora and capable, as a first attempt, of organizing multimedia testimonies associated with the concept of historical soundscapes in Évora.

86The process involved the definition of functional and non-functional requirements for this initial platform, which as a result of a preliminary evaluation process, were considered either partially or totally fulfilled. This is an encouraging indication of the successful future of the final platform, since its base is already practically structured and developed.

87In terms of Future Work, the limitations identified during the evaluation process and the suggestions indicated possible solutions to meet the requirements of this first prototype as well as proposals for interesting future implementations for the final platform.

88During the development of the platform, additional soundscape concepts were identified, to be added to the existing set: Cinema, Scenic-musical show, Music institutions and associations and Musicians. Additional and related concepts may yet be identified and added.

89Regarding the platform's features, it has been identified that the process of audio recording could be improved and streamlined. The idea would be that users could only submit an audio file when located at a short distance from where they want to place this recording. This constraint would prevent users from adding out-of-context sound and would promote tourism in the city of Évora.

90The Timeline tool is definitely another aspect to be improved, proven by results obtained in the platform’s evaluation of the platform. From this, it was realized that this tool had usability issues and that it is necessary to reformulate its presentation and to promote a detailed temporal search tool. The use of centuries to divide historical periods is somewhat limiting in search cases, so it will be interesting to offer a more accurate temporal search.

91Regarding the authoring environment, it is important to develop functionalities for editing and removing the various platform entities. Moreover, the various elements of the PASEV project need access to the administrator profile, so that the content can grow.

92It would also be very relevant, in the context of the PASEV project and its platform, to ultimately explore different technological resources within the field of mobility, such as gamification and Storytelling. A proposal for the integration of these resources on the platform, could also include augmented reality, accessed through QR Code technology, making available in the various reference sites of the project in the city of Évora, labels with a code of this type, where it is then possible for a platform user's device to read that platform code and immediately access contextualized information. Another proposal is to make the most of the platform's itineraries, articulating these with contextualized audio recordings or with historical audios, associated with the places that form the itinerary. A concrete example would be a navigation following the itinerary of a procession, from the starting to the end point, with the possibility of listening to audios in the context of that procession, at each of the reference places of the route. The purpose of this proposal would then be to offer the user a unique experience in the context of Évora’s soundscapes.

93To conclude, this work corresponds to the first stage of the development of the Auditory Atlas of the City of Évora. This first step is a functional, usable and already evaluated prototype which will allow us to continue the project based on feedback from end users.


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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1a) - Hush City application - Map with clusters
Fichier image/png, 478k
Titre Figure 1b) - Hush City application - Coloured markers
Fichier image/png, 470k
Titre Figure 1c) - Hush City application - Audio recording view
Fichier image/png, 259k
Titre Figure 2 - Geografia Platform - Animal detector, information and photo gallery
Fichier image/png, 334k
Titre Figure 3 - Project Lx Conventos map-based interface
Fichier image/jpeg, 333k
Titre Figure 4 - Itinerary on Project Historical Soundscapes
Fichier image/jpeg, 393k
Titre Figure 5 - System Architecture
Fichier image/png, 29k
Titre Figure 6 - Simplified Database diagram
Fichier image/png, 61k
Titre Figure 7 - PASEV Homepage (desktop and mobile)
Fichier image/png, 604k
Titre Figure 8 - Modal window - visualization of multimedia content (desktop)
Fichier image/png, 382k
Titre Figure 9 - Modal windows for visualization of multimedia content (mobile)
Fichier image/png, 549k
Titre Figure 10a - Extendable sidebar (desktop)
Fichier image/png, 594k
Titre Figure 10b - Extendable sidebar (mobile)
Fichier image/png, 117k
Titre Figure 11 - Itinerary Visualization (desktop)
Fichier image/jpeg, 226k
Titre Figure 12a - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – map
Fichier image/png, 965k
Titre Figure 12b - Itinerary Visualization (mobile) – list
Fichier image/png, 286k
Titre Figure 13a - Interaction Timeline-Map (desktop)
Fichier image/png, 683k
Titre Figure 13b - Interaction Timeline-Map (mobile)
Fichier image/png, 512k
Titre Figure 14a - Interaction Map-Timeline (desktop)
Fichier image/png, 554k
Titre Figure 14b - Interaction Map-Timeline (mobile)
Fichier image/png, 389k
Titre Figure 15 - Authentication at the authoring environment
Fichier image/png, 466k
Titre Figure 16 - Authoring environment
Fichier image/png, 482k
Titre Figure 17 - Add place form
Fichier image/png, 178k
Titre Figure 18 - Inserting and itinerary
Fichier image/png, 535k


NOVALINCS and Computer Science Department, NOVA School of Science and Technology, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

NOVALINCS and Computer Science Department, NOVA School of Science and Technology, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

NOVALINCS and Computer Science Department, NOVA School of Science and Technology, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

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