​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What makes an award-winning Intranet?

Originally published on BrightStarr. We are no strangers to award-winning Intranets, having won the Nielsen Norman award for Best Intranet Design for three years running and more recently, winning the IT Europa Best Information Storage Solution Award for 2015. It means we’ve seen these projects from concept to deployment and know a thing or two about what Continue Reading

Crisis is the New Normal: What is a Resilient City?

Originally published on the Future Cities Project Future Cities project launched the Future Cities Salon with a series of debates examining the future of public space. For a useful write-up of this event, see Maja Schwoerer’s article on the Future Cities website. From pollution, rising sea-levels, crime, terrorism or simply ill-health and disease, it seems that when Continue Reading

The Future of Health: Ethics and Privacy

Originally published on Cheltenham Science Festival Cheltenham Science Festival 2015 Internet of Things technologies – fitness wristbands and smart watches – are moving health from the hospital to the home. But if your watch, thermostat and games console could manage your well-being, how would you feel about being constantly monitored? Engineer Ian Craddock and social scientist Madeleine Murtagh delve into Continue Reading

Hacking the Internet of Things

Originally published on Cheltenham Science Festival Cheltenham Science Festival 2015 If it’s connected to the internet, it’s vulnerable to cyberattacks. If that’s your computer, you probably have defences in place – but what about if it’s your fridge? Or TV, or even your children’s toys? The Internet of Things allows a revolutionary way of life, but Continue Reading

The robots are coming: friends or foes?

Originally published on Battle of Ideas.

There has been renewed excitement recently in the potential of robots, from automated machines including driverless cars to the potential of miniature robots to help diagnose and fight disease. Japanese firm Softbank has even developed a robot that can respond to human expressions and voice tones thanks to an ‘emotional engine’. Fuelled by competing investment and advances in miniaturisation techniques, networking technology and control systems, companies are fighting each other to claim the lead in both military and civilian uses. Some forecasts suggest that by 2025, the robots could render a quarter of jobs in manufacturing, construction and other similar areas redundant. Moreover, with Japan last year unveiling a ‘robot astronaut’ to assist the crew on the International Space Station, robots may soon start replacing even highly skilled human ‘knowledge workers’.

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The gamification of society: time to grow up?

Originally published on Battle of Ideas.

Video games are growing up: the average age of a gamer is now over 30 in the US and UK. Now, a new breed of socially conscious games developers is keen to prove that gaming could be good for society. ‘Gamification’ – the use of gaming techniques in real-world settings – has become a major force in recent years, first in marketing but increasingly in other areas, too. Whether it’s inspiring reluctant runners by getting them to share their progress with friends online with the Nike+ app or helping AIDS researchers solve long-running problems in cell classification by turning the problem into a crowd-sourced game, games are increasingly seen as a revolutionary and disruptive tool for social interaction. Some charities have offered the opportunity to ‘play’ as a homeless person or African farmer to better educate young people about the problems that people in need face.

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Social irresponsibility: thinking the unthinkable

From the recent backlash of Libeskinds’ claim to boycott working in China, to the call for a ‘Code of Ethics’ from Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, the politics of the global built environment is undergoing perpetual debate. Some argue that ‘starchitects’ only have short-term political agendas in search for publicity stunts. Others claim that all designers and architects should be allowed to choose by themselves what they believe to be moral without the pressure of social responsibility.

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Evidence-based architecture

How often have you heard the phrase ‘research shows’ as a way of defending an architect or a designer’s scheme proposal? “Research shows”, they often say, “that so-and-so design is good for the environment/community/personal well-being”. By quoting some obscure research paper, a dubious design suddenly becomes unimpeachable”. This session explores whether “research” is being used as a way that designers can avoid having to defend their work in its own terms? For instance, in order to leverage money for green spaces, CABE research is commonly cited to show that ‘a walk in the park… has been proven to reduce the risk of a heart attack by 50 per cent’.

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