My primary research interest is in the design of technology to support communities and civic engagement. Within this topic, I am interested in the use of participatory methods and ‘in the wild’ deployments, in the applications of DIY and making, citizen science, Internet of Things and ubiquitous computing, and in urban and public spaces as sites for interventions. Underpinning all of this research is a desire to empower citizens to have a positive impact on their environment.
Hacking for Situated Civic Engagement
This project will explore the use of hackathons as a method of designing civic technologies. We’ll bring together members of the public with technology enthusiasts to address local issues and explore how we can create a sustainable culture of local innovation.
In the Making will explore how disabled people can utilise critical making for both economic benefit and personal wellbeing. We will explore current makerspace usage and barriers to uptake and run a series of workshops with disabled people to explore the potential in this area.
Second Screens for Engagement with Political Discourse
As smartphones and tablets become pervasive, people are increasingly using them to access additional content while watching television. This is especially true of political programming, where Question Time and election debates are becoming social media events. This project will explore current use of second screens and develop novel interfaces for engaging with political discourse.
Despite a huge increase in the availability of information and new communication channels, many people feel more disconnected than ever from their local and national governments. Viewpoint explored how simple technologies in public places can allow people to participate in local democracy as they go about their daily business. Viewpoint was originally developed as part of the Bespoke project, and further developed for deployment in Newcastle.
My PhD research explored the use of public situated displays to support communities by making community-centred content visible in public spaces. Over a four year period, we developed a series of prototype displays with residents in Wray, starting with a simple display for sharing photos and evolving into a digital noticeboard for sharing local content ranging from historical photos to upcoming events.
Sagacity is a visualisation designed to prompt reflection on the mental wellbeing of a city. Based around a Periodic Table of Emotions, Sagacity scans Twitter for words relating to emotion in the local area and illuminates the relevant emotion, which then fades out over time, creating a constantly shifting map of the city’s mood.
The Bespoke project explored how citizen journalism could be used as part of a design process for creating highly customised digital interventions for a specific community. The project worked with the Callon and Fishwick areas of Preston over a period of two years, where several unique technologies were developed and trialled.
In 2012, Newcastle University hosted DIS 2012 and Pervasive 2012 conferences, each attended by around 400 delegates. During the conferences, we evaluated a suite of prototypes designed to augmented the conference experience, including interactive tables and public displays, each showing an array of content creating both before and during the conference. We explored how this affected the experience of attending a conference and what this means for future conference technologies.
The Byker Lives Table was build in collaboration with Northern Architecture as part of a project aiming to celebrate the unique history of the Byker estate in Newcastle. Installed as part of an exhibition space on the estate, the table was designed to allow residents to define what they saw as the important and defining characteristics of the estate’s history, by bringing their own photos, videos and audio content to pin onto the map.
This project explored how children could be engaged with creative writing and with books in libraries using a mobile app. The Department of Hidden Stories game prompted children to create a story using a character and a series of fortunate and unfortunate events. Fragments of this story would be ‘hidden’ inside books around the library, which could be discovered by other players.
The Creative Exchange explored the broad theme of public digital space: the idea that “anyone, anywhere, anytime can access, explore and create with digital content”. The project works with academic, creative and commercial partners to build and investigate technologies that explore this space as a means of supporting knowledge exchange between academics and creative industries.
BinCam was designed to explore how social networks could influence behaviour, specifically in relation to food waste and recycling. Cameras installed in kitchen bins took a photo each time the lid was closed, which were then uploaded to a Facebook app. This second phase of the project aimed to investigate how users could be better engaged with the app, using characters, challenges and achievements.