The Centre’s work here will build upon the studies that address technology development needs for the hundreds of millions of people from the poorest regions of the world who have limited access to technology, and limited digital literacy. The focus will be on developing toolkits and demonstrators containing new hardware form-factors, interaction materials and methods to exploit and address the constraints and opportunities in resource-constrained communities, and for users excluded from digital technologies through (e.g.) visual impairment. Key partners in this work will be Leadin, Microsoft Research (UK and India), IBM Research (India). Real-world, longitudinal deployments in community sites in Africa and India will elicit evidence to demonstrate the economic and social value of future products and services. While resource constraint is obvious in the “developing” world, a key outcome of the Centre’s work will be to pivot findings from one “world” to the “next”, addressing specifically resource-limited contexts in the UK. For this work, we will build-upon the Cu@Swansea project, focused on a ten-year development plan designed to regenerate the 12½ acre site of the once derelict Hafod-Morfa Copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley. This site, containing 12 listed buildings or structures, was once home to the largest copperworks in Europe, and lay at the centre of a world-wide network of commercial connections. At the core of our heritage-led vision for the site – which will lead to the establishment of a World Heritage Site in 2020 - is the creation of a Digital Living History Laboratory to explain and interpret the site as it returns to life and become a vibrant place for people to visit, live in, and work in. This laboratory will act as an interface between blue skies thinking about digital interpretation and the practical needs of visitors and local communities. There has been extensive community consultation during the development phase of the project, which has been funded by Welsh Government and European Union grants totalling £1.2 million. Particular challenges are posed by the size, scale, and complexity of a once-derelict and polluted site located in a deprived area; the layered nature of the site’s archaeology which reflects its disjointed industrial and post-industrial life-cycle, and the fact that the local area is characterised by unusually high levels of digital exclusion. Thus the project is focused on engaging with traditionally ‘hard-to-reach’ groups. The City and County of Swansea has worked closely with the University to identify these challenges and is committed to delivering a transformational regeneration of the site through its collaborations with the University.
Prof. Matt Jones (PI) is passionate about extending the Digital Economy work pioneered in the UK, and is engaged in shaping research in mobile and ubiquitous HCI. He has been Visiting Fellow at Nokia Research Finland, and an IBM Faculty Award recipient for work on the Spoken Web. He received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2014-2019) in recognition of his work in developing markets. He has been involved in several “digital divide” funded projects (e.g.EP/E006396/1, EP/H042857/2), leading to publications and an open source toolkit - including a digital storytelling app that has been downloaded over 20,000 times - to facilitate information sharing in challenging rural developing world contexts (www.digitaleconomytoolkit.org). Jones is an experienced PI and collaborator on EPSRC-funded, multidisciplinary projects. He has served on the MobileHCI Steering Committee for many years; was Co-Chair of CHI 2014 and sits on the EPSRC ICT Strategic Advisory Committee and the Digital Economy Programme Advisory Board.
Prof. Huw Bowen specialises in economic and global history and heritage-led regeneration. He leads Cu@Swansea, a major, multi-agency regeneration project (www.welshcopper.org.uk), and two international research networks. He received the 2014 Swansea University Award for Outstanding Impact in Sport, Culture and the Arts, and is short-listed for a THE Award for excellence and innovation in the Arts (September 2014). He was Co-I on Swansea University’s EPSRC-funded ‘Bridging the Gaps’ Project, and his work on digital heritage, regeneration and reconstruction was identified as one of RCUK’s “Big Ideas for the Future” (2011, p73).