A word from Professor Boriana Koleva – Director of Horizon Digital Economy Research
The UKRI funded Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute centred at the University of Nottingham brings together an interdisciplinary team with expertise from a wide variety of backgrounds including computer science, engineering, mathematics, psychology, sociology, business, social science and the arts. This team is addressing the research challenge of how to promote deep personalization, whilst providing control and privacy to citizens, even as we develop new blended experiences that converge traditional and digital artefacts, services and media.
Established in 2009, Horizon represents a substantial ongoing investment by UKRI, the University of Nottingham and over 200 academic and industrial partners. Horizon consists of both a Research Hub and a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) within the UKRI Digital Economy programme. Both the Hub and CDT have received three rounds of direct funding, which alongside engagement in major national programmes such as the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT systems cybersecurity and the TAS Hub , provide funding through until 2025.
Horizon research has historically focused on the role of ‘always on, always with you’ ubiquitous computing technology, the ‘lifelong contextual footprint’ and growing public concern over the ‘exploitation’ of personal data. We have investigated socio technical developments needed and explored the private and ethical interpretation of ‘human data’ as it is captured, controlled, managed and harnessed to develop new services and products for societal benefit. Our focus has evolved to consider the user-centred design and development of data-driven products in line with our current vision – the idea that future products will be hybrids of both the digital and the physical.
Physical products are increasingly augmented with digital capabilities, from data footprints that capture their provenance to software that enables them to adapt their behaviour. Conversely, digital products are ultimately physically experienced by people in some real-world context and increasingly adapt to both. This real-world context is social; hence the data often implicates groups, not just individuals. We foresee that this blending of physical and digital will drive the merging of traditional goods, services and experiences into new forms of product. We also foresee that – just as today’s social media services are co-created by consumers who provide content and data – so will be these new data-driven products. At the same time, we are also witnessing a crisis of trust concerning the commercial use of personal data that threatens to undermine this vision of data-driven products. It is vitally important to build trust with consumers and operate within an increasingly complex regulatory environment from the earliest stages of innovating future products.
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