Centre for Digital Citizens

The Centre for Digital Citizens (CDC), as announced in Oct 2020, will address emerging challenges of digital citizenship, taking an inclusive, participatory approach to the design and evaluation of new technologies and services that support ‘smart’, ‘data-rich’ living in urban, rural and coastal communities.

The centre is funded by the EPSRC (~ £3.7M) and will run for five years (2020-2025). Core to the Centre’s work will be the incubation of sustainable ‘Digital Social Innovations’; these will ensure that digital technologies support diverse end-user communities and have long-lasting social value and impact beyond the life of the Centre. Through the centre, technological innovations will be co-created between academic, industrial, public and third sector partners, with citizens supporting the co-creation and delivery of research.


The centre is hosted as a close collaboration between Newcastle University & Northumbria University and led by Prof. Dave Kirk as PI. Partner organisations at the start of the centre include: BBC R&D, Benfield High School, Digital Catapult, The Edge Foundation, FutureGov, George Stephenson High School, Google, Great North Care Record, International Centre for Life Trust, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Microsoft Research Lab India, Mozilla Foundation, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle West End Food Bank, NHS Digital, Northumberland County Council, Northumbrian Water Group, North of Tyne Combined Authority, Northstar Ventures, Place Changers, Plan Digital UK, The Right Question Institute, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Software City, Traidcraft Exchange, VONNE, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, West End Schools Trust, Workers Educational Association, Yoti, and Youth Focus North East.

Citizen Challenge Areas & Cross-Cutting Technical Capabilities

Through focusing our activities in relation to four key Citizen Challenge Areas – the Well Citizen, the Safe Citizen, the Connected Citizen, and the Ageless Citizen – the CDC will develop new understandings of what it means to grow and sustain a healthier data-driven and connected world.

Activities in these areas will be enabled by cross-cutting technical capabilities in: Participatory Platform Technologies; Data-Driven Technologies; and Co-creation and Social Innovation.

The Well Citizen

This challenge area is led by Rob Wilson (Northumbria) and Jan Smeddinck (Newcastle, Open Lab).

Aims and motivation: With a continually ageing population and more people living with co-morbidities, there is a growing emphasis on integrated and digitally delivered health and social care services that generate, exchange and use citizen’s health and wellbeing data. With this comes challenges for ascertaining the validity and authenticity of such data, raising issues of trust and consent around who can (re-)use, access and share these data, and opportunities related to how data may support more preventive and intelligent downstream interventions rather than focusing on management. Furthermore, as health services become increasingly mediated via digital, Internet-enabled means, access and literacy issues (often differing regionally across urban, rural and coastal town contexts) have the potential to exacerbate inequalities tied to the social determinants of health across socio-economic groups. Through pilot projects, work in this area will examine how citizens and communities, while keeping control and ownership of critical data, can make use of personal and shared data to inform their self-awareness of/and personal health, to reduce health inequalities, and to increase community wellbeing.

For further details visit the project website.

The project will further - and expand on - the digital civics agenda in close alignment with the Digital Economy Research Centre, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics.