We designed a new undergraduate course structured around a practical challenge presented by a partner. Students used data analysis and participatory design to develop new ideas to address challenges of food waste and the circular economy. Students used design methods to prototype and test ideas such as an app to find plastic-free shops, removing the tray system from student dining halls, and offering healthier meal-deal options in on-campus shops.
Data, Design and The City is a 20 credit undergraduate course. It is a collaboration between Edinburgh Living Lab, the Schools of Informatics, Social and Political Studies, and Design Informatics at The University of Edinburgh.
This learning-by-developing course focuses on developing techniques in participatory design for the generation, use and impact of data as social and scientific evidence. Today's cities produce an immense amount of data — just think of open government data, urban sensors, smart homes, and self-quantification. The students will gain foundational concepts and tools for data collection, interpretation, and ethical analysis. They will then take part in a collaborative, interdisciplinary project around a "wicked problem," identified in partnership with organisations in the University, the City or the region. Student teams will develop a prototype intervention, test and evaluate this with potential users, and finally present the results to the problem holder.
Previous courses have explored the themes of Active Travel; Walking in the City Centre; Waste in the City; and The University Food Strategy. Data, Design and The City is a course that combines interdisciplinary teamwork with practice-based challenges.
This course has evolved from a previous undergraduate course, Data, Design and Society. You can see some previous team presentations here.
The aim of these events is to open up new conversations and connections between university researchers, industry practitioners and local people, to share knowledge and create a network of people working to improve local places using either community engagement and/or data/tech approaches. We also hope they will start to identify what some key built environment challenges of mutual interest might be for people across Edinburgh. This will feed into EFI’s work longer term, with discussions, connections and thinking all acting as a pre-cursor to a series of in-person physical events and Smart Places exhibition and conference which we hope can take place later in the year.
As we consider the way forward into a changed and changing world, EFI seeks to put research, education and engagement in the service of the wider community and to support recovery and regeneration. The Smart Places initiative will contribute to conversations and activities in core sectors linked to the Data-Driven Innovation and City Region Deal contribution including creative industries; tourism and festivals; financial services/fintech; public services/data civics; future infrastructure; and ethics of data and AI.