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Published onDec 09, 2020


Principal Investigator: Antonina Puchkovskaia, ITMO University (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Project manager: Lada Zimina1

Mobile Application Development: Anastasia Bugayeva

Backend/Frontend Development & Server Administration: Nikita Melnikov and Ilya Moroz

UX/UI Developer: Lidia Vlasova

Content Editing: Yulia Bobrova

Content Editing: Esenia Novokhatskaia

Data Scientist: Ivan Smetannikov

Project URL

Project Abstract

"St.Retrospect" is an interactive platform of cultural heritage dissemination, that presents culturally significant locations of Saint Petersburg visualized on the map of the city. The map is structured around relations between locations and historical figures and complemented with historical overview of the sites and famous people linked to them. The project is being carried out by the team of International Digital Humanities Center at ITMO University.

St.Retrospect website landing page with a search box to enter the project.

Example search results that show locations on a map and a list of sites with image previews.

Example walking route with individual locations listed and image and description of a selected site.

Time Needed

When did you begin this project? When did you complete this project?

Time Span: March 1, 2018 - present

Length: 3 + years


What is the outcome of the project?

At this point:

  • interactive web platform: a user-friendly interface enables users to interactive visualizations with the collected data;

  • database: it includes four types of entities: locations, personalities, connections between them and quests(themed tours around the city with and without interactive elements). A repository consists of more than 1000 historical sources provided by Russian National Library and incorporates information on more than 1000 locations and around 1000 related historical figures.

  • mobile application with gamification (in process)


What tools, resources, programs, or equipment did you use for this project?

To organize our workflow we use the Github flow.

All the code is open and accessible on GitHub:

The backend was written in Node.js, we also used Typescript and GraphQL. For frontend development we used Vue.js. The mobile app is being developed using React Native. The database was designed in MongoDB. We also use CI\CD GitHub Actions system2 to automatically collect docker images and push them in Docker Hub: For local and server administration we use docker-compose utility. Figma is used to design mockups. Our team utilises WebStorm by JetBrains as a main IDE3.


Please describe any costs incurred for this project, and (if relevant) how you secured funding for these costs.

The initial funding for this project was granted by our institution (ITMO University) - $115 000 for 2 years. Moreover, the project team received an additional grant of $45,000 to design a mobile application with gamification. According to the university policy we could spend money on salaries for the team members and software licences. What we were able to do was barter with cultural institutions (museums and libararies), so that we would promote library services and suggest users visiting the museums, if they helped us to collect the data. We also managed to establish good connections with several cultural institutions and currently planning on doing other collaborative projects together.


Please give an overview of the workflow or process you followed to execute this project, including time estimates where possible.

Stage 1 (May 2018 - December 2018): We collected, processed and analysed our dataset (based on NER algorithm form the analysed resources provided by the Russian National Library). We also developed software specifically for the Datathon, which helped us to collect 15.5 marked-up co-reference entities.

Stage 2 (2019): We selected a visualization method and developed the web platform, we also built up the database.

Stage 3 (March 2020 - Present day): We are expanding the database as well as developing web and mobile applications by fixing bugs

Challenges & Opportunities

What, if anything, changed between beginning your project and its current/final form?

At the beginning, we were planning to visualize different topics, such as literature, religion, art, politics etc. as parts of cultural history development of St. Petersburg by designing layers on our map. So users could navigate through it by specifying their interests and see how the layers overlap. Unfortunately, the idea was not as doable as it seemed in terms of UX/UI, so we decided to implement tags on the locations according to what they linked to (people/events/organizations).

Is there anything specific you wish you had known when beginning your project that might help other people to know?

When we decided to make a mapping project we started from scratch developing maps and using Leaflet. I wish we had known that there are lots of existing mapping tools we could use, such as Carto, Omeka, etc. It would have saved time and resources.

Next Steps

Do you have any plans to follow up on this project or work on something similar in the future?

Yes, the project is still work in progress. We are currently adding gamification mechanics to the mobile application and introducing new forms of content such as quests, interactive novels and queezes. We are also improving navigation on the website by adding a catalogue of personalities and locations for better user experience. Moreover, the structure of the database is being improved, as well as new information is being added.

Publications & Presentations


Evgenia Bogacheva, Antonina Puchkovskaia, and Ivan Smetannikov. 2019. Named Entity Recognition for Russian Historical Texts. In Proceedings of the 2019 3rd International Conference on Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAI2019). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 13–17. DOI:

Antonina Puchkovskaya, Lada Maksimova. 2020. The Virtual Dimention of the Hertage Site and its Representation in Digital Age. Bulletin of the St. Petersburg State Institute of Culture, 3 (44), 82-87. (in Russian)


Antonina Puchkovskaia ‘Finding Different Ways to Visualize Landmarks on the Interactive City Map’, DLFxDHSI Unconference, Victoria BC, Canada, 9 June, 2018.

Antonina Puchkovskaia ‘Retrospective Visualization of Key Landmarks of St. Petersburg Based on Corpora Analysis’, the 6th Estonian Digital Humanities Conference, Tartu, Estonia 26-28 September 2018.

Antonina Puchkovskaia ‘Retrospective Visualization of Key Landmarks of St. Petersburg Based on Corpora Analysis’, The Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, Chicago, USA, 9 November 2018.

Antonina Puchkovskaia ‘Visualizing St. Petersburg: the Mapping Project about the Hidden Connections between its Famous Citizens’, Global Digital Humanities Symposium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA, 21-22 March 2019.

Antonina Puchkovskaia 'Visualizing St. Petersburg Based on Russian Corpus Analysis’, Willard McCarty Fellow Lectures, King’s College London, London, UK, 11 June 2019.

Antonina Puchkovskaia and Lada Maksimova ‘Big data and the Museums — Ways of Interaction in the Open Information Space of the City’, Roundtable, International Conference on Lighting Design, State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 1 November 2019.

Antonina Puchkovskaia and Lada Maksimova ‘St. Retrospect: muzei v cifrovom izmerenii Sankt-Peterburga’(In Russian), Museums Strategies and Reputation International Conference, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography Museum (The Kunstkamera), Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 15-16 November 2019.

Antonina Puchkovskaia and Esenia Novokhatskaia ‘Visualizing History and Memory: The Case of St. Petersburg’, 4th "Memory, Melancholy and Nostalgia" International Interdisciplinary Conference, Gdansk, Poland, 9-10 December 2019.

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