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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L016176/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics
Principal Investigator: Olivier, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Wright, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Age UK BBC BT
DEMOS eBay Research Labs FutureGov (UK)
Gateshead Council IBM Line Communications Group Limited
Microsoft Newcastle City Council Northumberland County Council
Orange Philips Promethean Ltd
SMART Technologies Tunstall Healthcare (UK) Ltd
Department: Sch of Computer Science
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2014 Ends: 30 September 2022 Value (£): 4,707,329
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Oct 2013 EPSRC CDT 2013 Interviews Panel I Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
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 theories, technologies, design approaches and evaluation methods for digital technologies that support local communities, local service provision, and local democracy. However, 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 5 internationally leading centres of excellence already extensively engaged in Digital Civics research at Newcastle University: (i) experts in human-computer interaction and participatory media from Culture Lab; (ii) experts in security, privacy & trust from the Centre for Cyber Crime and Security; (iii) experts in public health and social care from the Institute of Health & Society; (iv) experts in education from the Centre for Learning and Teaching; and (iv) experts on planning and politics from the Global Urban Research Unit. Working together in a Centre for Digital Civics these academics will lead the training and supervision through a 1-year taught program in Digital Civics, and a carefully coordinated collection of 60 PhD 3-year research projects over the funded lifetime of the centre.

Secondly, the research will be conducted in the context of real-world service provision and communities, through the engagement of three local councils (Newcastle, Gateshead & Northumberland) who will act a host partners to the research. The centre also has a significant number of deeply committed commercial, public sector and third sector partners who will actively engage in the design and delivery of the research training. These include many of the leading national and international organisations with a direct interest in building research capacity in Digital Civics. These include Philips Research, Microsoft Research, eBay Research Labs, Orange Labs, IBM Research, BBC R&D, Tunstall, BT Labs, Promethean and SMART Technologies. In addition to these partners, we also have a partnership of local and national social and commercial enterprises, and a network of international academics who will support academic exchanges placements which will provide an international profile to our students' portfolio. Only those collaborating partners who have demonstrated a real and substantial commitment to engage have been included in this proposal.

The research training provided to students will be cross-disciplinary in nature and focused upon 3 challenging application domains for digital civics research. These are: local democracy, education, and public health & social care. There will also be 2 underpinning technology training programmes: human-computer interaction and security, privacy & trust. These 5 topics span the research expertise of our 5 international centres of excellence at Newcastle University.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk