Information and Communication Technologies and Local and Regional Development


CURDS has been researching the implications of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for local and regional development and for social and spatial cohesion for over 30 years. This work has had two principal concerns:

  • the socially and spatially uneven distribution and uptake of ICT network technologies and the impact of these patterns for place development. The most recent work here has focused on the roll-out of broadband technologies and policy responses to market failure.
  • the potentially ‘transformative’ effects of ICTs. Here we focus on the economic, social, institutional and cultural barriers to realising this potential. A key area of research here has been the role of ICTs in the location of work and in the changing nature of work, skills and employment required for local and regional development.

SiDE logoThree interrelated emergent strands of work, which build on the notion of transformative uses of ICT, are currently being pursued through a £12m interdisciplinary project on Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) funded by RCUK.

The first focuses on how digital technologies are both changing how we think about the concept of ‘community’ and how these technologies might be used to enhance community participation. As part of this work CURDS researchers recently contributed to an ARHC funded project on Situating Community through Creative Technologies and Practice.

The second strand is concerned with how technologies might support older people to stay at home, or in their communities, for longer, and improve the care experience.

The third focuses on young people and digital technologies. This latter research strand has two components: it explores the experience of young people in using social media, seeking out their experiences and reflecting on what we can learn for policy; it also explores the ways in which institutions responsible for engaging young people are (or are not) adapting their practices to take account of these new technologies.