DERC: Digital Economy Research Centre

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Computing

Abstract

The Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC) will theorise, design, develop, and evaluate new digitally mediated models of citizen participation that engage communities, the third sector, local government and (crucially) the commercial digital economy in developing the future of local service provision and local democracy.

DERC will deliver a sustained program of multi- and cross- disciplinary research using research methods that are participatory, action-based, and embedded in the real world. The research approach will operate across multiple scales (e.g. individual, family, community, institution) and involve long-term embedded research activity at scale.

The overarching challenges are significant:

-- the development of new technologies and cloud-based platforms to provide access to open and citizen-generated data, big data analytics and software services at scale to support trusted communication, transactions, and co-production between coalitions of citizens, local government, the third and commercial sectors;

-- the development of participatory methods to design digital services to support citizen prosumption at the scales of communities and beyond;

-- the development of new cross-disciplinary insights into the role of digital technologies to support these service delivery contexts as well as understandings of the interdependency between contexts and their corresponding services.

The backbone of this research agenda is a commitment to social inclusion and the utilisation of participatory processes for user engagement, consultation and representation in the design and adoption of new forms of digital services. The main research themes of DERC address the development of models of digitally enabled citizen participation in local democracy (planning), public health, social care and education, and the nature of new civic media to support these.

The Centre's research will be conducted in the context of local government service provision in the Northeast of England, in close partnership with Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and Northumberland, and supported by a consortium of key commercial, third sector and professional body partners. DERC's extensive program of research, knowledge exchange and public engagement activities will involve over 20 postdoctoral researchers and 25 investigators from Computer Science (HCI, Social Computing, Cloud Computing, Security), Business & Economics, Behavioural Science, Planning, Education, Statistics, Social Gerontology, Public Health and Health Services Research.

Planned Impact

DERC will pursue an 'in the wild' program of research one theorising, designing, developing, and evaluating personal & community-based digital technologies to explore and create new forms of participatory citizenship that support local communities, local service provision, and local democracy. DERC will work directly with three local authority partners (in the Northeast of England), a variety of SMEs and NGOs and some larger international corporations. As such there are numerous potential direct beneficiaries of the Centre:

(1) Firstly, there are the researchers themselves who will develop there capabilities as highly skilled academic and applied researchers - well-versed in interdisciplinary collaboration and capable of transferring, leveraging and exploiting the insight generated from their research, and who are able to contribute to the economic and social development of the UK.

(2) DERC's research will be focused on supporting local communities, and given the aim to enhance public service provision and support engagement in local issues it is highly likely that this research will enhance quality of life, health and wellbeing in these areas, improve social welfare and social cohesion in the participating communities and generally increase public awareness of social and economic issues that are likely to be affecting these research participants, and this will be done at various levels from older adults through to school-aged communities.

(3) The research is also intended to have policy impact at a national level, and through our direct collaboration with our participating local authority partners the research activities will directly influence policy making at local, regional and national levels. Case-based research at the scale to be conducted by DERC will transform evidence-based policy, and provide evidence to support changing organisational cultures and practices (for example enhancing the role of public participation in local governance) and through shaping and enhancing the effectiveness of public services, by directly designing and developing digital augmentations. As such the research activities will be specifically designed to enhance the efficiency, performance and sustainability of public services through the user-centred development of new digital technologies and the promotion of local activism and civic engagement.

(4) Another significant impact of DERC will be the development of the employees of our non-academic collaborators through active processes of knowledge transfer that will ultimately both contribute towards wealth creation and economic prosperity by supporting the enhancement of research capacity, knowledge and skills in these businesses and organisations, and also lead to commercialisation of DERC research outcomes through uptake of open technologies and the formation of spin-out companies, joint ventures and social enterprises that service private, public and third sectors customers.

People

ORCID iD

David Kirk (Principal Investigator)
Peter Wright (Principal Investigator)
Patrick Olivier (Principal Investigator)
Daniel John Zizzo (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4830-4364
Thomas Ploetz (Co-Investigator)
Robert George Wilson (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0469-1884
Katie Rhian Brittain (Co-Investigator)
Lynne Corner (Co-Investigator)
Aad Van Moorsel (Co-Investigator)
Philip Michael James (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9248-0280
Paul Watson (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7629-4760
Thomas Rainer Gross (Co-Investigator)
Thomas Luke Bartindale (Co-Investigator)
Paolo Missier (Co-Investigator)
Kellie Morrissey (Co-Investigator)
Darren James Wilkinson (Co-Investigator)
Vasilis Vlachokyriakos (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6038-5959
Falko F Sniehotta (Co-Investigator)
Barbara Hanratty (Co-Investigator)
John Vines (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4051-3356
Sugata Mitra (Co-Investigator)
Geoff Vigar (Co-Investigator)
Liz Todd (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0080-555X
Ahmed Kharrufa (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3461-4161
Emma Foster (Co-Investigator)
Caroline Walker-Gleaves (Co-Investigator)
Pamela Briggs (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5028-4601
Madeline Balaam (Co-Investigator)
Shaun William Lawson (Co-Investigator)
Clara Crivellaro (Co-Investigator)
Ashley Jayne Adamson (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3735-2846
Kyle Montague (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9589-9471
Rob Comber (Co-Investigator)
Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Co-Investigator)
Yu Guan (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1283-3806

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Here and Now 
Description In 2018 Open Lab coordinated the design and development of the here and now digital artwork, which was exhibited at the Great North Museum: Hancock during the Great Exhibition of the North. This was part of a collaboration between Open Lab and the School of Engineering at Newcastle University, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, FutureEverything, and the Great North Museum: Hancock. The digital artwork combines artefacts from the Great North Museum: Hancock and elsewhere, with data about our environment to tell stories of how we are changing our world and our world is changing us. The artwork is designed to be experienced at a large scale, for example filling a darkened gallery wall. There is an accompanying website, including an online version of the digital artwork and further information about the objects and datasets used. They created digital 3D models of the objects using photogrammetry and, for each object, they asked people from the museum and elsewhere to answer the questions "what is this?" and "what does it tell us about environmental change?" The digital artwork displays the 3D models, whose visability changes according to a particular set of data, whilst answers to the two questions play. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The artwork was designed to be experienced at a large scale, and was shown over three non-consecutive days in Hall 3 at the Great North Museum: Hancock during the Great Exhibition of the North. 
URL https://hereandnowchange.net/
 
Title Immersive humanitarian escape room 
Description In 2019, the world's largest humanitarian organisation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, unveiled its 10 year strategy. As global change accelerates, there has never been a more important strategy for the organisation. However, strategy documents are dry, difficult to understand and ultimately, for an organisation with 19 million volunteers, hard to disseminate. Open Lab used immersive 360 projected environments and game design to create an experience where people could live and internalise the strategy, not just read it. This is how we designed and delivered the world's first digitally immersive escape game for humanitarian strategy. Based around the five major challenges facing the IFRC over the next ten years from migration to climate change - delegates were shown an imagined future where the strategy hasn't been implemented, they were then asked to solve a series of puzzles and 're-write history' before it was too late. The escape experience took around 30 minutes, and we designed the room to use five digital projectors to achieve full 360 projection, as well as a suite of stage lights to set ambience and immersion. Over 300 delegates from 60 National Societies took on the escape room from youth volunteers to senior representatives. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The immersive escape room - Escape to the Future - was nominated in the DigiLeaders 100 list for Cross-Sector Digital Collaboration of the Year and the Games for Change award in the Best XR for Change category. 
URL https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/research/ifrc-escape-room-disseminating-strategy-in-a-new-way/
 
Title Making Marks 
Description Making Marks is a digital artwork that presents visual and sonic marks of a changing world. Some of these marks are objects you can find in the Great North Museum: Hancock's collection, including fish and plant fossils, animal bones from the Whitburn sea caves, taxidermy of the Great Auk, and the Whitburn harpoon. Making Marks asks people to continue the story that these marks begin of a climate-changed World, through drawing your own mark which then becomes part of the growing artwork. On show during the Great North Museum: Hancock's "Great North Nights" on 7th June, 5th July, 26th July, 6th September, 27th September, and 6th October, as part of the accompanying programme to Dippy on Tour. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Making Marks was part of the Dippy on Tour exhibition that welcomed 304,928 visitors between the 18th May and 6th October 2019, at the Great North Museum 
URL https://hereandnowchange.net/
 
Title StoryWeb 
Description Story:Web explores how museum collections, images and sounds shared online, and people's experiences could be connected to make sense of global issues like climate change. An interactive demo of Story:Web was on show at the Glasgow Science Centre up to and during COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, as part of the Reimagining Museums for Climate Action exhibition. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact In 2022 we are developing Story:Web into a real digital system for use on social media and in museums, for people to discuss environmental issues like climate action. 
URL https://storyweb.info/
 
Description The work of this award has provided a series of significant case studies which have demonstrated how next generation digital technologies and digital economy services can be developed through co-creative methods with stakeholders and user communities. The research has delivered a variety of methods, approaches and (digital) tools to enact and support processes of community engagement and consultation for civic planning and coordination. The research work of the centre has demonstrated how the use of these technology-supported processes can fundamentally redesign the relationship between local government agencies, third sector service providers, and the local communities who use services provided by these bodies. The centre has demonstrated through a range of projects across the areas of education, local media, civic engagement, and health and social care how technology can be drawn upon to support more relational rather than transactional interactions between service users and providers. This has fundamentally demonstrated new ways of working across the third sector and local government. The work has demonstrated new models for working with digital technology in hard to access communities and the ways in which it can positively enhance the service offer from local authorities and the civil society bodies that support civic life.
Exploitation Route Tools and processes that have been developed have been made open source and have been broadly adopted by user communities. The approaches adopted within the research have become de facto standards for co-creation in local government settings, based on a raised awareness of the importance and value of digital engagement that the work of the centre has pioneered. Outcomes from the work should (and have been evidenced to) provide tools and techniques to enhance community engagement and consultation processes across a range of sectors including cultural heritage, transport, the creative economy, education (including community education), health and social care and community service provision.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Transport

URL https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/
 
Description The Digital Economy Research Centre aimed to design, develop, and evaluate new digitally mediated models of citizen participation and civic engagement. To do this DERC worked with communities, the third sector, local government and industry partners to co-design and develop future local service provision and local democratic processes. Within this broad framing the main research themes of DERC have focused on supporting digitally-enabled citizens in areas such as local democracy, urban planning, public health, social care and education, and we have explored new civic media and participatory platforms to support this. Going into the DERC programme the overarching challenges of digital exclusion, local authority austerity, civic disengagement and changing political landscapes were pressing. Alongside this however were emerging opportunities around open and citizen-generated data and a renewed will for greater community empowerment. To address these challenges and opportunities DERC researchers have needed to develop a variety of novel (co-design led) research methods, and digital tools and technologies that are participatory, action-oriented, and embedded in, and responsive to, real world contexts. Through the research partnerships and long-term research collaborations we have developed we have been able to transfer knowledge and insight to various communities of need. Critical to the centre's mission has been our engagement with the local civic bodies such as Newcastle City, Gateshead and Northumberland County Councils, embedding our work in the North East of England. But our work has also been translated into a number of international humanitarian contexts (such as refugee camps in th middle east), giving us a distinctively global reach. From delivering the public consultation and co-design of the new Tyne and Wear Nexus Metro trains to collecting young volunteers' voices fom around the world to input into the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' (IFRC) 10 year strategic plan, many DERC projects will continue to have long-standing impact beyond the life of the Centre. DERC's extensive program of research, knowledge exchange and public engagement activities have drawn on a broad range of academic expertise spanning Computer Science, Design, Business & Economics, Behavioural Sciences, Urban Planning, Education, Statistics, Social Gerontology, Public Health and Social care, and delivered interdisciplinary insight and impact across these areas, exploring the role of digital technologies in civic life The footprint of DERC has been enormous. From this one large project we have produced dozens of smaller projects, supported the careers of over 80 researchers (from early-career to more seasoned academics) and through the engagements themselves connected with tens of thousands of members of the public (across the region and internationally). Our collaborative work has pioneered new models of 'digital civics' research, connecting and embedding academic research within community groups, third sector organisations, charities, local government and industry. Through this we've explored new ways of empowering communities and engaging citizens in the digital economy. Following the success of DERC we have launched our EPSRC Next Stage Digital Economy Centre for Digital Citizens. We are taking the core themes investigated within DERC and are using that knowledge to foster further digital social innovations with communities. In doing this we are continuing our journey to change discourses from a focus on 'smart cities' to supporting smart(er) citizens, in urban, rural and coastal places.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description (gE.CO Living Lab) - Generative European Commons Living Lab
Amount € 995,810 (EUR)
Funding ID 822766 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2022
 
Description Centre for Digital Citizens - Next Stage Digital Economy Centre
Amount £3,797,252 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T022582/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 10/2025
 
Description EPSRC NetworkPlus on Social Justice through the Digital Economy
Amount £1,006,664 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R044929/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description Telling Tales of Engagement 2020
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 09/2022
 
Title Community Panel 
Description Transcripts and reviews by participants 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our study and related insights add to the growing discourse about ethics in digital innovation and aligns with calls for design as a catalyst for social change. We have highlighted that when voices from across society are brought together, old and new ideas, hopes and reflections about the present and the future emerge, and people can apply those to the practice of envisioning (un)intended consequences of technologies but also how things 'ought to be' and the kind of worlds that digital innovation and HCI research should play a role in helping co-create. The value of the our Community Panel process, then was as much about an attempt to open up and 'democratise', as much as a process about collective sense-making-sharing and changing people's perspectives, defining values and mobilizing. 
URL https://data.ncl.ac.uk/articles/dataset/Community_Panel/13562756/1
 
Title Community Panel 
Description Transcripts and reviews by participants 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our study and related insights add to the growing discourse about ethics in digital innovation and aligns with calls for design as a catalyst for social change. We have highlighted that when voices from across society are brought together, old and new ideas, hopes and reflections about the present and the future emerge, and people can apply those to the practice of envisioning (un)intended consequences of technologies but also how things 'ought to be' and the kind of worlds that digital innovation and HCI research should play a role in helping co-create. The value of the our Community Panel process, then was as much about an attempt to open up and 'democratise', as much as a process about collective sense-making-sharing and changing people's perspectives, defining values and mobilizing. 
URL https://data.ncl.ac.uk/articles/dataset/Community_Panel/13562756
 
Title Metro Futures 2020 Website Data 
Description These files contain data submitted by visitors to the Metro Futures website (metrofutures.co.uk) as part of the Metro Futures public consultation on new trains for Tyne and Wear Metro in 2020. This data was exported in CSV format from the database where website responses had been stored. Data was submitted to the website in September and October 2020, and exported in 2021.Every website visitor was assigned a unique session cookie ID. Data are listed as every datapoint entered, grouped by session ID (sessid). There are four files according to four tables in the database relating to three website sections plus demographics questions all visitors were asked.demographics-all-datapoints.csvLists responses (response) to demographics questions along with timestamp (createdAt), ordered by question ID (questionid).21-04-28-configure-datapoints-by-sessid.csvLists design option choices (response) and comments (comment), along with timestamp (createdAt), in the Configure website section, ordered by question ID (questionid).21-04-28-explore-datapoints-by-sessid.csvLists comments (comment) and rating responses (likert), along with timestamp (createdAt), in the Explore website section, ordered by 360-degree image hotspot name (hotspotName).21-04-28-journey-datapoints-by-sessid.csvLists comments (comment), rating responses (likert), and design option choices (option), along with timestamp (createdAt), in the Journeys website section, ordered by persona name (personaName) and stage within a persona scenario (stageid). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We worked with NEXUS and train builder Stadler to create a website and a series of online events that will allow passengers to explore a virtual model of the train. - People could explore and comment on the new Metro train interiors at: https://metrofutures.org.uk/configure - Step into the shoes of six different Metro passengers and experience the new trains from their points of view. https://metrofutures.org.uk/journeys. - Join three live webinars with a virtual tour of the trains and a question and answer session. The questions and answers from those sessions can be found on the Nexus website: https://www.nexus.org.uk/newmetrotrains -People were given the option to answer polls on Twitter as well on their prefered configurationsActivities received over 23,000 public responses, which is unprecedented for Nexus and Stadler and has provided a wealth of data for our ongoing research into what this means for doing experience-centred co-design both at scale and online. 
URL https://data.ncl.ac.uk/articles/dataset/Metro_Futures_2020_Website_Data/15772029
 
Title App Movement: 
Description App Movement is an online platform that enables communities to propose and promote ideas for mobile applications in response to community needs. The community can collaboratively design the app through a series of customisable features, and automate the development and deployment of a customised app. The platform allows community members to create the applications without any prior technical knowledge, breaking down the barriers to commissioning technology. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2015 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact App Movement was launched in February 2015 and now has over 38,000 users who have created over 233 movements and automatically generated 27 mobile applications to support communities to find dementia friendly places, gender neutral toilets, drone flying locations, and more. 
URL https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/research/app-movement-enabling-anyone-anywhere-to-create-their-own-apps/
 
Title Deconf conferencing platform 
Description Deconf (de-centralised conference) is an Open Source library for building virtual conference platforms developed by Open Lab at Newcastle University. It has been developed with the learnings of running several online conferences since 2020. Scalable - Deconf is designed to run with thousands of concurrent visitors. The infrastructure is designed to run as stateless containers that scale horizontally to accomodate more and more traffic. Decisions favor up-front computation so the visitor experience is as uncomputational as possible. The internal schedule information is processed in the background, not on-demand and the client app is a bundled SPA requiring even less server computation. Agnostic - Deconf is built to work with as many different platforms as possible. It doesn't provide any video streaming out of the box but instead makes it easy to get visitors into a Zoom room, watch a Vimeo livestream or prerecorded YouTube video. Customisable - Deconf is a library for making your own conference platform, not a SaaS platform you go to to host something. This allows deployments created with the library can be completely bespoke and not something generic. The api and ui libraries are build up of modules that you can swap in and out to customise everything. Features An Atrium, which is the homepage for attendees with live stats, helpful links to get about and embedded onboarding media. A "Session Grid" page to show subsets of sessions in a non-temporal format. A chronological schedule page that groups sessions by start/end time and prioratises sessions that are live Detailed pages for each session with relevant links and embeds, for example, embedding a YouTube video or a Zoom call-to-action and linking to a Miro board Registration and magic-link based login pages to quickly get into the conference via an email Real-time interpretation during live events, so attendees can tune-in to live interpretation and experience the conference in English, French, Spanish or Arabic All copy is built to be localised to it can be customised or translated as required and the ui is built for RTL and LTR orientations. 
Type Of Technology e-Business Platform 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact It has been used for several conferences including: climate:red 2020 with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was the first prototype for Deconf and is what the initial version of the libraries were based on. Over 10,000 people from 195 countries registered for the Summit. During the 31 consecutive hours it ran for they had between 1,300 - 2,800 people online at most times. MozFest 2021 the annual conference for Mozilla was the first deployment of Deconf. The libraries were made to adapt the logic from climate:red so it could be repurposed for MozFest. planet:Red with the IFRC was the next deployment of Deconf. It was used to convert planet:red into a Deconf deployment as the initial prototype contained no shared code in the end. It was a good oppertunity to refine the Deconf libraries to make them more customisable and add new features/configurations based on the MozFest deployment. This lead to lots of breaking changes but ended up with more flexible APIs and components. MozFest 2022 was the next deployment of Deconf which nicely inherited lots of improvements from the planet:Red deployment and added back more customisations and configurations to the libraries. 
URL https://github.com/digitalinteraction/deconf
 
Title Intake24 A 24-hour dietary recall system 
Description Intake24 is a free multilingual online dietary capture and analysis tool built by Newcastle University that provides the same quality of data as interview-led dietary recall at a significantly lower cost. Based on the multiple-pass 24-hour recall method, the system enables participants to input all food and drink consumed, estimate portion size using visual guides, and review their input at each stage. The system has been designed to ask a series of prompt questions if food or drink items are considered missing, such as "did you have any butter on your toast?" Intake24 automatically links to the food composition data and the weight of the food from the chosen portion size to calculate the nutritional output. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2015 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact It was piloted as part of the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) in 2018, was selected and adopted as the first ever digital dietary assessment method for the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme and expanded with a South Asian food database and adapted for offline deployment in the South Asian Biobank to support field studies in developing regions with no Internet access. The adoption of Intake24 into the UK NDNS and South Asian Biobank offline deployment was instrumental to Australian, New Zealand and Fijian reviews and decisions to select Intake24 for their national nutrition surveys. Across the international research community, the Intake24 system has to-date been used in at least 158 individual research studies funded by Institutions, Charities, Research Councils and Governments around the world. The software has been used by tens of thousands of research participants across 15 countries. 
URL https://intake24.co.uk/
 
Title Iris Msg: community SMS donation platform 
Description Iris was designed and developed by a number of people from Open Lab at Newcastle University and Open Lab: Athens. For more information about the people that took part in this check the team page. Iris, is a system that allows sending SMS text messages to a list of subscribers through SMS donors. People supporting your organisation, group or case can sign up to become 'donors' and donate a number of SMS messages for your cause. Everytime that you need to send a text to a list of subscribers (e.g. volunteers, staff, followers etc.) you share the cost of the text messages sent. As a result, the communication of the organisation becomes more transparent and decentralised. Donors, through the Iris app, are able to see the content of the announcements sent, the subscription lists and sending and delivery reports. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The app is at the phase of polishing some of the features and interfaces. It will be delivered for social and solidarity economy organisations to use. 
URL https://irismsg.io/index.html
 
Title MakePlace: an open-source mapping and survey tool 
Description Make Place is an open-source, online geographical survey tool for asking questions and displaying these answers on a map. It's the mapping application that powers several of our place-based research projects, and it's also been used in university teaching. Make Place has lots of different uses, for urban planning projects, mapping services or surveying the community on future changes to the neighbourhood. To use Make Place, first create a map and a set of questions for people to answer, and then invite people to respond to these questions through the platform. There's lots of different ways to answer these, with text, audio clips, photos and videos. Each response you get generates a new pin on a map for other people to see and discuss, using the in-built mapping tools. You can also control exactly who can view, respond, comment or vote on your questions, and even use groups to pick selected users to participate. For example, you can make your maps private to ensure that only people you've invited can see it. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Make Place has been used with primary school children participating in a neighbourhood improvement project, cyclists advocating for better cycling infrastructure, evidence-gathering residents commissioning new air quality sensors, and undergraduate students leading an urban planning project. Most recently Sara Armoush, an Open Lab PhD student, is using Make Place with a public health organisation in Lebanon to pair volunteers, and NGOs to fulfill community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also used by Newcastle City Council to match up NGO needs with volunteers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
URL https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/research/make-place-an-open-source-mapping-and-survey-tool/
 
Title MetroFutures consultation 
Description The MetroFurtures website for the Tyne and Wear Metro 2020 consultation includes: Explore your new Metro: Move around 360-degree images at seven points in and around the train to discover new features and provide feedback on them. Configure your new Metro: Some design decisions remain to be made on your new Metro. Let us know your preferences by trying out options for seven different features. You can then share your ideal Metro with us and on social media. Explore your journeys: Six people and six different journeys that reflect real experiences of travelling on Metro and other trains that people have shared with us. Step into their shoes, experience the new trains from their points of view, and think about how well they fit their needs. Each journey consists of six video clips with one or more questions after each. Pick someone to begin. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Thr consultation received over 23,000 responses and was one of the biggest public consultations the rail industry has ever seen. MetroFutures won the Technical Innovation of the Year - Rolling Stock award at the Global Light Rail Awards. Nexus also celebrated three Gold awards and one Silver Award at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations North East Pride ceremony during the same week. Nexus was also named winner for Regional Campaign of the Year, Best Use of Content and Best Use of Digital and Social Media and coming runner up in the Best Public Sector Campaign category. 
URL https://metrofutures.org.uk/
 
Title ThinkActive 
Description ThinkActive is a system to encourage primary aged school children to reflect on their own personal activity data in the classroom. ThinkActive uses inexpensive activity trackers and pseudonymised avatars to encourage children to get fit. The teacher is given a collection of activity trackers, and each student is assigned an randomised avatar such as Blue Elephant 3 or Red Octopus 5. They update their step count by scanning their personal QR code onto a ThinkActive hub. The children compete in teams, but can choose whether they reveal their identity to their friends or the rest of the group. This allows them to compete, but not feel pressured or stigmatised if they don't have as many steps as someone else. Their data is anonymized on collection to safeguard the children, and prevent potential stigma or bullying. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact ThinkActive worked across two primary schools in the North East alongside the Match Fit programme located in the west end of Newcastle, which is in the top 5% of the most deprived areas in the UK. The children did a total of 13,064,861 steps between them during the first study. Each student had a mean average of around 13,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent to around six miles. ThinkActive won second place for Tech Innovation for the Future in the T3.com awards. 
URL https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/research/thinkactive-designing-for-pseudonymous-activity-tracking-in-the-c...
 
Description IFRC climate:red virtual climate summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On September 9 and 10, 2020 the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) hosted climate:red, a major virtual summit focused on Climate and Environmental Crisis. It was the first of its kind for the Red Cross and Red Crescent network and the largest they have ever attempted.

Open Lab worked with the Solferino team from the IFRC to create a bespoke online platform for the conference which had over 200+ workshops and talks, all done in four languages - English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

Over 10,000 people from 195 countries registered for the Summit. During the 31 consecutive hours it ran for, they had between 1,300 - 2,800 people online at most times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://climate-red.openlab.dev/atrium
 
Description Let's Talk Parks public consultation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Let's Talk Parks was a project between Open Lab and Newcastle City Council to design a public engagement and consultation programme to involve local people and multiple stakeholders contribute meaningfully to the decision-making processes on how the city's parks should be managed in the future.

The project engaged over 3,000 people working with Newcastle City Council to re-envision and re-shape Newcastle's public parks service using multiple channels of engagement.

Let's Talk Parks workshops invited residents, allotment holders, the business community, local volunteer groups, park managers and rangers, and other interested parties to work as a team using a bespoke board game-style process to share values and then consider different scenarios and bring their ideas together into a collective response.

In addition, weekly hour-long debates on Twitter provided opportunities to discuss options and engage with dynamic polls around alternative futures for Newcastle's parks. The Let's Talk Parks website acted as a repository for ideas and a platform for further discussion.

Research generated through Let's Talk Park informed the requirements for a new public park service in the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne. The research also demonstrates the value of participatory processes that are able to productively connect citizens and public institutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://letstalkparks.co.uk/
 
Description MetroFutures Public Consultation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Tyne and Wear Metro train fleet has served the UK's busiest light rail network outside London for over 40 years. In 2016, Nexus, the body running the publicly-owned Tyne and Wear Metro, applied for the funds to replace the trains and commissioned a public consultation to understand what people across the region wanted from their new trains.

They approached Open Lab to help run the consultation, and rather than relying on methods such as questionnaires and surveys, Metro Futures used pop up Labs in shopping centres and busy public spaces across the North East, co-design workshops with co-researchers (members of the public), and tools such as the Open Lab built JigsAudio - a consultation method that uses talking and drawing.

The design for the new trains was based on the concerns and ideas from the over 3,000 people who took part in the 2016 consultation.

In 2020, after Stadler's proposed designs were received, Nexus asked Open Lab to run another public consultation to find whether the new design fitted public needs and help decide on interior design options. It was delivered using interactive online platforms, through social media and augmented virtual reality workshops. The 2020 consultation received an unprecedented 23,000 public responses, and was called "one of the most far-reaching public consultations the global rail industry has seen.

MetroFutures won the Technical Innovation of the Year - Rolling Stock award at the Global Light Rail Awards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2020
URL https://metrofutures.org.uk/
 
Description Streets for People 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Newcastle Council set up the Streets for People project to identify where streets could be made more people-friendly by reducing car traffic, improving walking and cycling infrastructure and improving the public realm. Open Lab designed tools and processes to engage children in the project, and presented their ideas in a Town Hall to members of the local authority.

The children went on neighbourhood walks and were encouraged to use their senses to explore current problems and future changes that could be made to the streets. As part of this project Open Lab built MakePlace - an open-source, online geographical survey tool for asking questions and displaying these answers on a map, which children used to share their ideas.

From this project came Sense Explorers - a toolkit of participatory workshops that use the five senses and some digital sensing tools to investigate air quality, noise pollution and traffic speeds. Sense Explorers has involved over 200 children from Newcastle and beyond.

Streets for People won Best Paper at ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction conference 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015