Engaging with Communications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Salford
Department Name: Sch of Computing, Science & Engineering


Today communications technology impacts on every aspect of everyday life. Within the UK, 84% of the population own a mobile phone and these are being used for sending and accessing information as well as making normal voice calls. The internet and digitial television is providing an increasing range of access to information and the concept of working 'on-line' is now commonplace with many technical terms now in common usage. However, the general awareness of the potential of today's communications technologies and their basic operation is much less well understood or appreciated. The story of communications and its impact on society is therefore a fascinating and exciting one that now forms the heart of a new gallery to be opened at the MSIM. Given the clear significance and impact of communications technology it is essential that the young are educated to understand such technology and how to exploit it and that the older generation too are reassured about the influence and operation of the technology. Our project addresses this challenge using a range of activities. On the one hand traditional engagement events such as lectures and schools events, where children gain hands on experience of how communications systems work by constructing small scale projects, are used to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm. However, on the other hand it is our intention to create an innovative application of communications systems within the Museum's Communications Gallery. Here visitors will be provided with portable devices onto which information will be sent that is automatically determined depending on where the visitor is presently located, where they have been and who they are. In this way it is possible to ensure that the information delivered is not only highly relevant to what the visitor is viewing but also what they have seen previously and where they are about to go. This unique environment will prove an extremely powerful educational tool that not only allows for improved multimedia demonstrations and explanations of how communications technology functions but also allows us to demonstrate the true potential of such technology and how EPSRC sponsored research is impacting the future.Using communications technology within the context of a communications gallery, to raise the awareness and understanding of communications technology itself will uniquely reinforce the public engagement messages being delivered.


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Bates D. (2007) Building context into a museum information guide in Proceedings of the IASTED International Conference on Communication Systems, Networks, and Applications, CSNA 2007

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Linge N. (2007) mi-Guide: A wireless context driven information system for museum visitors in Proceedings of the 1st International Joint Workshop on Wireless Ubiquitous Computing, WUC 2007, In Conjunction with ICEIS 2007

Description This research revealed several practical issues about deploying multimedia guide technology within a museum context. These impact design, deployment and management issues and have been reported in our publications. We also consider how effective the use of technology is in assisting visitors. There is always a balance to be struck between providing information using standard methods of display boards within a gallery and the amount of content which is delivered electronically via hand-held devices.
Exploitation Route Our findings that relate to practical issues for deploying visitor guides apply equally today even though the technology of choice may have changed. At the time of our project, the smart phone revolution had not begun and so we built our system using a PDA. Had the project been conducted today then we would have adopted smartphone technology but many of the issues about information navigation and design, network connectivity and usability remain relevant.
Sectors Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.miguide.co.uk
Description This project developed an interactive multimedia visitor guide for use within the Connecting Manchester Gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Information can be found at: www.miguide.co.uk
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Public exhibitions 
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 We organise at least one major public exhibition each year. These normally coincide with the Manchester Science Festival and are designed to engage a broad audience with interactive displays, exhibits and demonstrations. Each exhibition provides a mix of heritage and state of the art exhibits and combines contributions from the University and industry. Our exhibitions cover the general areas of telecommunications, television and home computing.

Formal feedback obtained from visitors has always provided positive. It is very noticeable that visitors spend some considerable time exploring and interacting with our exhibitions. Numbers attending grow year on year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
Description We offer a range of talks for the general public and normally arrange to deliver 20 to 25 of these each year. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact All of the talks we offer are very well received and generate a lively discussion and Q/A sessions.

Follow up booking requests are very common with future commitments being confirm 12 to 24 months in advance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.engagingwithcommunications.com/talks/publictalks.html