Birkbeck University of London Knowledge Lab | Research | How can digital systems be designed so as to foster equality of opportunity, social inclusion and well-being?

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How can digital systems be designed so as to foster equality of opportunity, social inclusion and well-being?


We pursue participatory design methodologies to build innovative mobile and pervasive computing systems, working in collaboration with user stakeholders, educationalists, scientists, businesses and other public and private organisations. We work to understand how people and technology interact, and how digital technologies can enable members of society to participate fully in cultural activity, business and e-government.

Pervasive computing embeds wireless communication and computation into material entities. Cyber-physical systems link these material entities with their information representations on the Internet. The Internet Of Things is changing personal experiences of the physical world, fundamentally transforming the way that individuals and organisations interact and blending physical and digital experiences into one. We research into systems architectures, data sensing, privacy protection and human dynamics to explore how users’ activities can be exploited as a core ingredient in building cyber-physical systems.

This research has resulted in the implementation of applications that are used to monitor biodiversity across the globe, to assess and support Parkinson’s disease patients in the UK, to improve the well-being of office workers in London, to engage the public in a debate about the costs and benefits of pervasive computing, and to inform legislatures in the UK and the US.

We seek to understand how individuals and communities are enabled through digital technologies, user-generated information and collaborative learning; including how individuals come together to form communities of practice; and how individuals, communities and organisations create and share information, represent and co-create knowledge, learn and enhance their practice. Along with this there is a need to understand the barriers to inclusion so that people of all backgrounds can participate more fully in society.