The ‘digital plumber’ is a conceptualisation in ubicomp research that describes the work of installing and maintaining Internet of Things (IoT) devices. An important and often understated element of commercial IoT solutions is their long-term socio-technical infrastructural nature, and therefore long-term installation and maintenance needs. This adds complexity to both the practice of digital plumbing and to the work of design that supports it. In this paper, researchers from EPSRC funded projects (Horizon ‘Trusted Data Driven Products’, Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub and From Theory to Practice: putting HCI frameworks to work) worked together to study a commercial company producing and installing an IoT alarm system. It examines video recordings that capture how a ‘digital plumbing’ representative and members of a software development team make changes to both the installation process and supporting technology.
Link to paper in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), 4 March 2023.