Across the UK political spectrum there is a consensus that communities need to play a greater role in local government, both in the decisions made that affect people’s everyday lives, and in the design and delivery of services provided by local government to communities. With the enormous public uptake of digital technologies including broadband internet, mobile phones, laptop and tablet computers, there are opportunities to create more representative and sustainable forms of local democracy and service provision.
Digital Civics is the endeavour of developing research, theories, technologies, design approaches and evaluation methods for digital technologies that support local communities, local service provision, and local democracy. This area poses new challenges for researchers across a range of disciplines. It requires researchers that are not only experts in local government and the services they provide (such as education, public health and social care), but also researchers that can: (i) understand the limitations of existing technologies and approaches to design and use; (ii) innovate in the design, delivery and evaluation of services; (iii) produce underpinning technologies that meet the real-world requirements of local service provision and local democracy. The primary goal of our Centre for Doctoral Training is therefore to train the next generation of researchers that can meet these challenges.
The Centre has three distinctive features. Firstly, it brings together academics from five internationally leading centres of excellence already extensively engaged in Digital Civics research at Newcastle University. Secondly, the research will be conducted in the context of real-world service provision and communities, through the engagement of three local councils who will act a host partners to the research. The centre also has a range of deeply committed commercial, public sector and third sector partners who will actively engage in the design and delivery of the research training. Thirdly, the training provided to students will be cross-disciplinary in nature and focused upon three challenging application domains for digital civics research: local democracy, education, and public health & social care. There will also be two underpinning technology training programmes: human-computer interaction and security, privacy & trust.
Date: April 2014 – April 2022
Funding: EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre £4,707,329
Researchers: Patrick Olivier (PI), Peter Wright.