The University is working with policymakers, the private and public sectors, and academics from around the world to establish a pioneering research centre for this.
The Centre will explore the use of digital technology to involve the public in the design of better local services, such as:
- public health
- social care
The Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
It will be located on Newcastle’s major new science and technology site, Science Central.
Led by the Digital Interaction Group’s Professors Patrick Olivier and Peter Wright, the facility will also draw expertise from the institution’s centres of excellence for research in planning, public health, education and security.
Professor Wright said: “With the enormous public uptake of digital technologies including:
- broadband internet
- mobile phones
- laptop and tablet computers
there are exciting opportunities to involve communities in the creation of more representative and sustainable forms of local democracy and service provision.”
Technology to address societal challenges
Bringing together experts from across the humanities and medical sciences faculties, the Digital Interaction Group is sharply focused on pushing the boundaries of how academics think about people and technology to address societal challenges.
Much of their cross-disciplinary work aims to improve the wellbeing of citizens whose needs traditionally have been largely overlooked in society, such as older people or those with cognitive or physical impairments.
Training a generation of researchers
The centre will train more than 60 PhD students over the next nine years.
Professor Wright explained: “Digital Civics is about exploring new ways in which digital technologies can be used to harness the potential of local voices – not just here in the UK but anywhere in the world."
Professor Wright said that the "goal of the new Centre will be to train a generation of researchers capable of realising these opportunities.”