The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Centre for Digital Citizens

The Centre for Digital Citizens (CDC) addresses emerging challenges of digital citizenship.

centre for digital citizens


The Centre for Digital Citizens (CDC) addresses 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. Core to the Centre's work will be the incubation of sustainable 'Digital Social Innovations' (DSI) that will ensure digital technologies support diverse end-user communities and will have long-lasting social value and impact beyond the life of the Centre.

The technological innovations will be co-created between academic, industrial, public and third sector partners, with citizens supporting co-creation and delivery of research. Through these activities, CDC will incubate user-led social innovation and sustainable impact for the Digital Economy (DE), at scale, in ways that have previously been difficult to achieve.

The CDC will build on a substantial joint legacy and critical mass of DE funded research between Newcastle and Northumbria universities, and link it to UCL’s CASA. The CDC is a response to recent research that has challenged simplified notions of the smart urban environment and its inhabitants, and highlighted the risks of emerging algorithmic and automated futures. The Centre will leverage pioneering participatory design and co-creative research, expertise in digital participatory platforms and data-driven technologies, to deliver new kinds of innovation for the DE, that empowers citizens.

The CDC will focus on four critical Citizen Challenge areas arising from prior work: 'The Well Citizen' addresses how use of shared personal data, and publicly available large-scale data, can inform citizens' self-awareness of personal health and wellbeing, of health inequalities, and of broader environmental and community wellbeing; 'The Safe Citizen' critically examines online and offline safety, including issues around algorithmic social justice and the role of new data technologies in supporting fair, secure and equitable societies;

'The Connected Citizen' explores next-generation citizen-led digital public services, which can support and sustain civic engagement and action in communities, and engagement in wider socio-political issues through new sustainable (openly managed) digital platforms; and 'The Ageless Citizen' investigates opportunities for technology-enhanced lifelong learning and opportunities for intergenerational engagement and technologies to support growth across an entire lifecourse. CDC pilot projects will be spread across the urban, rural and costal geography of the North East of England, embedded in communities with diverse socio-economic profiles and needs.

Driving the programme to address these challenges is an 'Engaged Citizen Commissioning Framework'. This framework will support citizens' active engagement in the co-creation of research and critical inquiry. The framework will use design-led 'initiation mechanisms' (e.g. participatory design workshops, hackathons, community events, citizen labs, open innovation and co-production platform experiments) to support the co-creation of research activities. 'Innovation Fellows' (postdoctoral researchers) will engage in a 24-month social innovation programme within the CDC. They will pilot DSI projects as part of highly interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder teams, including academics and end-users (e.g. Community Groups, NGO's, Charities, Government, and Industry partners). The outcome of these pilots will be the development of further collaborative bids (Research Council / Innovate UK / Charity / Industry funded), venture capital pitches, spin-outs and/or social enterprises. In this way the Centre will act as a catalyst for future innovation-focused DE activity.


01/11/20  -  31/10/25

Partner Organisations

  • BBC
  • Benfield High School
  • Digital Catapult
  • FutureGov
  • George Stephenson High School
  • Google
  • Great North Care Record
  • International Centre for Life Trust
  • International Federation of Red Cross
  • Microsoft
  • Mozilla Foundation
  • Newcastle City Council
  • Newcastle West End Foodbank
  • NHS Digital (previously HSCIC)
  • North of Tyne Combined Authority
  • Northstar Ventures
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Northumbrian Water Group plc
  • Place Changers
  • Plan Digital UK
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Sunderland Software City
  • The Edge Foundation
  • The Right Question Institute
  • Traidcraft Exchange
  • VONNE (Voluntary Org Network North East)
  • VTT
  • West End Schools’ Trust (WEST)
  • Workers Educational Association
  • Yoti Ltd
  • Youth Focus: North East


Mark Tewdwr-Jones - (m.tewdwr-jones@ucl.ac.uk)


Centre for Digital Citizens