What is digital civics?

At the heart of digital civics research lies a belief that technology can bridge the gap between users and providers of services, between citizens and governments, between individuals and communities.

Digital technology can transform the provision of social care by empowering care users and giving them more control over their care. Likewise, public health provision can be made more participatory through the use of new technologies, replacing traditional top-down models.

Another key theme within the digital civics research at Open Lab is the role of technology within education. Digital technology allows communities, parents and other stakeholders to become more involved in shaping the future of education.

Digital civics also encompasses the role of technology within politics and local communities, where there are new possibilities for engagement, and opportunities to give a voice to people who are left out by more traditional decision-making processes. Digital civics is concerned with shifting power towards local communities.

As well as looking at the ways people interact with technology and how it can empower them, the digital civics research at Open Lab has led to the development of new technologies, including apps, online platforms and electronic devices. An overarching theme of digital civics is a more collaborative and participatory design process, which is reflected in much of the technology developed at Open Lab.

What is Open Lab?

Open Lab is a cross-disciplinary research centre at Newcastle University, and is one of the world’s leading research centres into human-computer interaction (HCI). Digital civics influences much of the lab’s work, and is focused around two main initiatives:

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics – training a minimum of 55 PhD researchers between 2014 and 2022 in the field of digital civics. These researchers may come from, and work in, a variety of academic disciplines, ranging from computing to education, public health, politics and sociology. The CDT is funded by a £4.7m award from the EPSRC.

Digital Economy Research Centre – 25 postdoctoral researchers from Newcastle University and Northumbria University, as part of a network of research into the digital economy. The £10.4m centre is supported by a £4m EPSRC award.

Our partners

Age UK; Arjuna Group; Arup Group Ltd; Assoc Directors of Adult Social Service; BBC; BT; cloudBuy; DEMOS; eBay Research Lab; FutureGov; Gateshead Council; IBM; Line Communications Group Limited; Microsoft; Newcastle City Council; Northumberland County Council; Orange; Ordnance Survey; Philips; Promethean Ltd; Red Hats Labs; Reflective Thinking; Royal Town Planning Institute; Skype Communications SARL; SMART Technologies; Society of IT Management; Tunstall Healthcare (UK) Ltd; VocalEyes Digital Democracy; Voluntary Organisations’ Network NE

What is this website about?

The headings at the top of the page will take you to the latest content relevant to each of the major areas of research within digital civics. This website is designed to show the projects in action, with regular updates from the researchers themselves, so keep checking back to see how the projects are progressing. You can view the profiles of the people behind the projects on the “People” page, and see the academic publications resulting from their research on the “Publications” page.

To find out more about Open Lab, visit openlab.ncl.ac.uk