What is Digital Civics?

Digital Civics is about designing and exploring digital technologies that help individuals, local communities, and voluntary and charitable organisations have a stronger voice in public services, and local democracy.


Through a co-design approach, we have worked with citizens as active co-producers of research to explore ways to deliver public services, NGO aims and community voice in a more effective and resilient way.

Community engagement

Our PhD students have worked with local councils, community centres, heritage projects, local transport providers, international NGOs, refugee communities, dementia charities, care homes, schools, and more. Their research is embedded in the work of the partners they do, and many of the projects have taken on a life of their own beyond the CDT.

Our research topics

The CDT has created research around local democracy, education, healthcare, social care, digital security and data. We develop digital tools and design approaches to create change.

Case Study

Using technology to improve collaborative learning for hundreds of schoolchildren

PhD students from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Digital Civics CDT have worked with hundreds of schoolchildren to improve their creativity, give them practical skills and connect them with schools on the other side of the world. Creating new cultural engagements From local parks to lighthouses,

Case Study

Diversifying Community Radio: the creation of the Later Life Audio and Radio Co-operative

Even though older adults are widely recognised as listeners of radio, it’s predominantly younger voices that dominate the airwaves and older adults are still not commonly perceived as active creators of content. However, the media landscape is changing and older adults increasingly make use of digital media technologies to

Case Study

Improving diversity in the HCI research community

In 2019 Angelika Strohmayer became the first graduate from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Digital Civics CDT programme. Through her research Angelika worked closely with charities in the design, development, and evaluation of digital technologies for service delivery and advocacy work. During her PhD she worked with

Case Study

Changing the narrative around refugee research

Using collaborative research methods learnt in Open Lab, PhD student Reem Talhouk took a new approach to working with refugee communities. As part of her PhD in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Digital Civics CDT she worked in a number of refugee settlements in Lebanon looking

Case Study

Immersive humanitarian escape room: Disseminating strategy in a new way

Open Lab worked with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to build the first ever immersive 360 humanitarian escape room experience based on their Strategy 2030. Over 300 delegates from 60 National Societies took on the escape room at the International Red Cross General Assembly in Geneva. Two

Case Study

Working on domestic abuse prevention

PhD student Rosie Bellini has been working closely with many national domestic violence charities to help support behaviour change for people who use abusive behaviours within their intimate relationships. As part of her PhD in the EPSRC Digital Civics CDT at Open Lab, in the School of Computing at Newcastle

Case Study

How collaborative feedback can be used to improve organisations

Listening to the experiences of staff or volunteers can be difficult for organisations as they have limited resources or skills to meaningfully engage with this rich content. People who share their experiences are seldom involved in the analysis of data they provide, which can leave them feeling that their voice

Case Study

PIP Kit: Using lifelogging to support disability benefit claimants

Disability welfare benefit processes are complex and stressful, with claimants finding it challenging to prepare an effective account of their disabilities to support their claim.   Colin Watson, PhD student in the EPSRC funded Digital Civics CDT at Open Lab created PIP Kit to help benefit claimants make their actual Personal

Case Study

Creating new resources for public health and social care

Many of our PhD students from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Digital Civics CDT have new resources to improve health and social care from breastfeeding parents to supporting families living with dementia.   Feedfinder: finding breastfeeding-friendly places across the world Across Britain, many parents choose not to

Case Study

Using the future to change the present

How can reflecting on the future help us change the present? This is the question Kieran Cutting, PhD student on the EPSRC funded Digital Civics CDT at Open Lab has been looking at working with both young people, youth workers, civic leaders and more.   It’s Our Future In 2019

Case Study

Connecting volunteers with community needs in Lebanon

Health services in Lebanon are stretched due to political instability, conflicts, corruption and sectarianism, economic collapse and declining living conditions due to a weakened public sector. As COVID-19 hit and the Beirut explosion in 2020, these problems became even more exacerbated. Sarah Armouch, as part of her PhD in the

The Digital Civics CDT is made possible by EPSRC funding under the project code EP/L016176/1