Experts show how smart giving transforms lives

Charitable giving to global development initiatives could be transformed by technology to be showcased at a virtual University event.

Researchers will reveal how donations can be made using blockchain technology that enables secure, encrypted internet transactions without the need for financial institutions.

Experts from the University’s Institute for Design Informatics will outline how recent advances could making giving more transparent, personalised and responsive.

The showcase on 14 October will highlight how they are developing blockchain technologies to assist the charity Oxfam in its quest to end injustice and alleviate global poverty.

It precedes another key event for Design Informatics. As part of Dutch Design Week from 17 to 25 October, Edinburgh researchers will explore themes linked people’s personal data.

Major project

OxChain is a major project between the Universities of Edinburgh, Northumbria and Lancaster that involves Oxfam, Zero Waste Scotland and Volunteer Scotland.

This OxChain showcase brings together experts in international development, digital design and cryptography – the art of writing or solving codes.

Leading figures from government, business, and the charity sector will experience this new technology live, and explore how it can enable smart donations.

Radical change

OxChain Director Professor Chris Speed, Chair of Design Informatics at Edinburgh, says Blockchain promises to radically change how people share, circulate and distribute things they value.

Possible benefits for the not-for-profit sector have, however, only begun to be understood, as research and innovation has primarily focused on the financial and tech industries.

OxChain has already successfully trialled technology in Australia that uses smart contracts to let donors pledge funds through a working app.

Providing support

The Smart Donations app has helped to provide insurance against natural disasters and provided support when petitions gain momentum, or if a prominent politician tweets about a crisis.

The Smart Donations Showcase is on Wednesday, 14 October, from 1.30 to 3pm.

It will be an online event filmed live at the Inspace Gallery in Edinburgh. There will be a virtual tour of an OxChain exhibition, live demos and a panel discussion.

OxChain is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Our research has revealed entirely new ways for the public to donate to causes based upon data that is received in real-time from local and global events.

Chris SpeedOxChain Director

Design Week

Researchers from Design Informatics will join their counterparts from Lancaster for an online exhibition and series of events during Dutch Design Week.

The interactive exhibition, with its theme of personal data use, will consider how we shop, how we use social media and how we connect with others through health apps.

Participants will be taken on a journey through the lives of three characters – Eric, Anna and Hugo – who have co-designed new ways of living with their personal data.

Along the way, the exhibition will unpack the ethical challenges that Eric, Anna and Hugo face as large commercial and civic organisations control how their data is used.

At the end of the experience, visitors are invited to choose how they might like their data to be managed – Eric’s cautious way, Anna’s open process, or Hugo’s entrepreneurial path.

Online talks

Edinburgh researchers will also take part in a series of online events at Design Week. Each will assess how data is growing in value and meaning for culture, society and the economy.

The broadcasts will explore how designers at Edinburgh and their partners in Eindhoven are seeking to understand ethical challenges that surround the management of personal data.

As people become increasingly data literate, says Chris Speed, they are beginning to care about what data means to them and their communities.

“Data is no longer a trail we carelessly leave behind as we move from app to app,” says Professor Speed. “People are becoming conscious of how it changes the way they see the world.”

“It changes what we are invited to shop for, which friends we can hear, and which political party is most likely to be of interest to us.”

Varied topics

On Sunday 18 October, Chris Speed and Ewa Luger, of Edinburgh College of Art, will explore Designing from and with Data.

Caroline Parkinson, of Edinburgh Futures Institute; Dave Murray-Rust, of Edinburgh College of Art; and Murray Collins, from the School of GeoSciences, will size up Our Data Footprint on Tuesday 20 October..

And, on Wednesday 21 October, Resident Entrepreneurs from Creative Informatics will share their experiences in Design Studio - From Creative Data Idea to Business.

Our view of the world through smart phones is informed by our shadow selves, that remain in datasets, and that are being traded minute by minute.

Caroline ParkinsonEdinburgh Futures Institute

Related Links

Sign up for Smart Donations Showcase


Dutch Design Week

My Data, My Self exhibition

My Data, My Self events