Digital technologies for participatory citizenship

Digital Civics is a long-term research initiative led by Open Lab, Newcastle University that is exploring how digital technologies can empower citizens and communities. Open Lab is a world-leading research centre into human-computer interaction and social and ubiquitous computing, and includes academics from the fields of computer science, design, engineering and social and health sciences.

Technology at the edge

Professor, researcher, author. And organiser of the Tiree Tech Wave, bringing technological experimentation to a remote Scottish island. Alan Dix is among the most influential figures within human-computer interaction, and his career is as varied as it is distinguished. He is an author of one of the key HCI textbooks and has extensive experience of teaching, currently at the University of Birmingham.

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Designing the conference

Local businesses and innovation experts are being invited to help shape content for this year’s VentureFest North East, using EventMovement. The free online platform, developed by digital civics researchers at Newcastle University, allows communities to propose, design and plan events, and is now being used to put delegates in control of a new People’s Choice part of the VentureFest North East programme.

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Supporting women who choose to breastfeed in public

Many new mothers stop breastfeeding early because they fear how people will react in public.

FeedFinder is a free mobile app that aims to support breastfeeding women by helping them find breastfeeding-friendly places in their community. Women can use FeedFinder to search for and view places on the map where other women have previously breastfed, and contribute their own experiences of a new or existing venue.

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Feeback from peer-experts impacts cross-cultural learning

Today’s globalised world has sparked our interest to know more about the diverse cultures and heritages that voluntarily or involuntarily shape our everyday lives. Education can prepare students to adapt and live fulfilling lives in this globalised world, but often cultural learning through the curriculum is delivered in a rigid manner.

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Newcastle at the forefront of planning

A report by Future Cities Catapult has named Newcastle as one of the leading cities in the UK for digital planning and engagement.

The Future Cities Catapult’s Future of Planning project aims to explore how digital technologies can influence and improve planning practices and making the planning process more transparent and collaborative.

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Local democracy in action: a reflection on the #notwestminster conference

On 10 and 11 February, we attended the #notwestminster conference in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. This event brought together tens of people from local authorities, universities and tech startups to attend a series of design experiments and workshops centred around strengthening local democracy – however far we happen to be from London.

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Critical engagement and intra-cultural knowing: A case for cross-cultural learning

Cross-cultural learning within the British curriculum has often been explored through international historical events, practices and rituals. Whilst this may be interesting to highlight concepts of diversity we believe there is need for curriculum to investigate intra-national cultures to dispel notions of cultural homogeneity within nation-states.

 

We worked with two schools in the Northeast of England,

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Helping young people find free condoms

Young people in the North East will be able to find places to access free condoms and sexual health information, thanks to an app generated using App Movement, an app-development platform developed as part of Newcastle University’s digital civics research.

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App Movement: a platform for the community commissioning of mobile applications

App Movement is an online platform that enables communities to propose and promote ideas for mobile applications in response to community needs, collaboratively design the concept through a series of customisable features, and automate the development and deployment of a customised app.

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Doing Double Dabble: organiser reflections

Feminist theory and practice came together at what could be the first of many Double Dabble events. Double Dabble: A Feminist Day of Making was organised by fempower.tech, a group of intersectional feminists at Open Lab who seek to explore and raise awareness of feminist issues in HCI. Angelika and Janis, two of the main organisers of the event, reflected on how things went.

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Debate the future of Newcastle's parks

Newcastle’s parks and allotments are facing big changes, but local people are being brought into the discussion.

Open Lab is working with Newcastle City Council to hold workshops and online discussions that include residents, allotment holders, the business community, local charitable groups, friends of parks and other interested parties.

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Welcome to Open Lab: Athens

Open Lab has a longstanding interest in the connections between technology and political activism and engaging local communities in decisions that affect them. In the summer of 2016 this research expanded to Greece, with the opening of Open Lab: Athens.

The financial crisis has led to huge changes to Greek society,

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Fempower.tech

While many digital civics projects explore feminist issues, such as Angelika’s work supporting services for sex workers, or the FeedFinder app which supports women who chose to breastfeed in public, human-computer interaction remains a field that can be hostile to women.

To create a supportive and collaborative environment in which to share and raise awareness of feminist issues within HCI, a group of digital civics researchers established fempower.tech.

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Create4Dementia winner announced

After three months, 15 ideas and dozens of conversations about technology and dementia, the winner of the Create4Dementia competition has been announced. Family Connections, an idea proposed by Ali Taylor, will be produced by iResources, a small development company based in Newcastle.

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Getting young people thinking active

For nearly a decade primary school children in the North East have learned about fitness and nutrition through Newcastle United Foundation’s Match Fit programme. Now, a digital civics project aims to enhance this six-week programme by using digital technologies to further increase the fitness and health awareness of primary school children.

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Deep learning through classroom-community collaboration

The pluralist nature of our society has encouraged young people to explore and experience cultural diversity from a very young age. Schools are championing this approach by entwining curriculum topics with themes of cultural diversity but often this consists of exploring factual knowledge of rituals, practices, objects and historical events. 

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Personal data: trust, power and innovation

Digital technology has opened up countless opportunities for collecting, sharing and using data: “a fundamental paradigm shift in our world,” according to Digital Catapult’s Lucie Burgess.
“What we’re seeing now is new models of companies being able to engage with users through their personal data in a way that builds trust,” she explained.

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The social lives of older people living in Wingrove

A group of digital civics researchers are exploring how older people living in the Wingrove ward in Newcastle feel about their social lives, including their relationships with friends, family, neighbours and more informal contacts and connections. Jenny Liddle, who is involved with the project, explains more about their work.

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Data science will change the world

I attended Urban Analytics Data Drive event on 25 and 26 July at the Alan Turing Institute in London. With a strong faith that data science can change the world, the Alan Turing Institute joined forces with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Data Science Campus to host the first policy-focused Data Dive.

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