Digital Nottingham: harnessing the latest digital and data expertise to help solve challenges

February 13th, 2023

Professor Paul Grainge updates on Digital Nottingham, a programme that brings together researchers, businesses and civic partners to innovate and create opportunities that harness knowledge and expertise to support a thriving regional digital sector. 

Digital Nottingham is a new civic initiative, working in partnership with local stakeholders, which uses the latest digital and data expertise to help solve challenges across the city and region, while providing opportunities for growth and regeneration.   

This autumn, a collaborative hub will open at the university’s new Castle Meadow Campus. It will give Digital Nottingham a real-world presence in the heart of the city, providing a base to engage with the community, pilot activities and create partnerships. 

The Digital Nottingham space will provide: 

  • ​​​​​​​New city-based opportunities for public and civic engagement 
  • A welcoming venue for events, installations, demos and digital and data showcasing 
  • Digitally enabled collaboration and networking spaces 
  • High quality digital working, learning and creative spaces 

Castle Meadow Campus will allow us to facilitate collaborations and a diverse programme of activities. This will range from the application of digital research in areas such as AI and Robotics, Creative and Digital, Digital Finance and Digital Twinning, to the development of a digital skills offering for local professionals and young people and regional networking opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.   

One of Digital Nottingham’s key research initiatives is ‘City as Lab’, a pioneering model for transdisciplinary research and place-based collaboration. We have funded a number of City as Lab digital projects, which bring together our partners and experts from all five faculties to apply social, cultural and economic problem-solving to challenges facing Nottingham and the East Midlands.  

These diverse projects include Hello Lamp Post, where people in Nottingham have found themselves talking to lamp posts, benches and even bins to help gather views on what climate change means to the city. 

This partnership between the university, Nottingham City Council and creative research company Hello Lamp Post introduced interactive, talking street furniture to explore attitudes to climate change and sustainability. The scheme will play a crucial role in helping Nottingham to achieve carbon neutral status by 2028.  

Other City as Lab projects include: 

Minecraft Nottingham –  This project supports young people’s engagement with digital data about their local environment by inviting children to explore, imagine and co-design the space of Nottingham in the games platform Minecraft. The project encourages participants to use these experiences to become ‘community leaders’ engaging with their families and their wider community to incorporate needs, wants and sustainable priorities expressed as Minecraft builds. 

Overcoming Indebtedness –  Digital exclusion is a key dimension of disadvantage, creating significant barriers to welfare and increasing the poverty premium. This project seeks to reduce the high levels of personal over-indebtedness in the city of Nottingham, working in partnership with Nottingham and Lincolnshire Credit Union (NLCU) to assist in the development of a digital strategy and to explore data partnerships to help social tenants get easier access to eligible benefits, address digital exclusion, and improve financial resilience 

Next Generation Wireless Communication – This project develops the wireless infrastructure that supports citizen-oriented virtual reality (VR) applications, addressing the problem of how data is transmitted in complex environments, and enabling places to create dynamic stable wireless links. It includes collaboration with partners including OFCOM and Innovation Nottinghamshire 

Trusted Research Environment for Cities (TRE4C) – A Trusted Research Environment (TRE) is a protected, secure and safe place for data that may only be accessed by a trusted few. The Trusted Research Environment for Cities (TRE4C) project focuses on how to bring together research data and open data so that the general public of Nottingham may benefit from it in their day-to-day lives, in effect, “bringing data closer to the people”. The project included a number of citizen focus groups to support the TRE4C project in engaging residents of Nottingham  

Such projects highlight Digital Nottingham’s commitment to creating new partnerships and applying innovative digital and data science technologies to accelerate the delivery of ideas that change lives. 

Paul Grainge is Professor of Film and Television Studies and Academic Director of Digital Nottingham.  

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