Dynamic, Real time, On-demand Personalisation for Scaling (DROPS)

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Faculty of Business and Law


Privacy is a human right and value that often under threat in the context of technology. While much research has been done on this topic, in the modern era of technology privacy preserving technologies must keep in pace with state of the art technological developments, as in the case of dynamically personalised technologies. Personalised technologies operate on the basis of collecting personal data, dynamically analysing it to infer knowledge about the user and providing in-the-moment responses that add value for the user. The privacy implications of this technology, however, have been not explored extensively. DROPS will address this through an examination of the privacy, trust and identity issues that arise from the development of personalized e-books for children's reading. Our focus on children's reading is motivated by evidence that shows the value of personalised e-books for learning and reading enjoyment, and yet the lack of research that engages with the range of privacy issues that these technologies introduce.

DROPS has two broad synergetic goals: i) To develop a ThingsSpace that manages the computational process of personalizing technology, such as e-books, in such a way that a user's personal data is protected. ThingsSpace will use an existing personal data store, the HAT, to store personal data subsequently used by the e-book's algorithm to adapt to the child's pedagogical needs ii) To use ThingsSpace as a springboard to document and evaluate the privacy, trust and identity issues resulting from its design and use. This evaluation will lead to the development of different economic and business models creating a feedback loop with the technical design.

Across all of the project stages, we will co-create the technology with future end users of ThingsSpace (publishers, SMEs, designers of personalized digital products) and end users of personalised e-books (teachers, parents, children). This multi-stakeholder approach will allow us to ensure that the aspired values of e-books (for learning and privacy) are aligned with the economic models used to monetise this technology and the technical platform that delivers it. The code for ThingsSpace will be open source in order to allow other researchers and commercial parties to transfer our project findings to the diverse domains that digital personalisation is currently used, e.g. Finance, HealthCare, Social Media.


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