Andy Gower (BT) Pervasive Participation

Andy Gower discussed three projects by BT, from the last 5 years, to hit a number of possible exploitation domains for core back-end platforms.

Tourism and heritage: Collaborative project with Burnley Borough Council; about trying to provide communities that were going through a significant amount of urban regeneration with a view of the town-planner’s plans for the future of the community, but also a voice for what kind of changes they would like to see. Gave about 20 people a PDA with GPS-capabilities – when someone walked round sites with planned regeneration, media was automatically generated about the kinds of changes planned. Digital compass attached to the system. Users could record comments about different areas, which were geo-referenced and placed on a map. Generally well received by all users.

Next Andy discussed a collaborative project with BBC and Microsoft research, and Nottingham and Bath University.

Participate – Key issues of the programme: How do you direct public participation, and encourage people to contribute, whilst making it relevant to the kind of content you want? How do you get people to move from “low-value” user generated content to high (In this case, BT was trying to persuade people to record videos)? Another issue: cross-channel and cross-device; focus on how such content might get to a niche TV channel as well as the internet (user-generated content channels)? Finally, significance of tools orchestrating the process and moderation of content.

Stories at Kew: Providing people with mobile phones and a map as they walked round Kew Gardens – dotted around the location was pre-generated content. Technology used: GPS, Bluetooth nodes, QR codes –tracked people. People received a phone call when they reached points of interest (content included archive clips, montages of people). Benefits of people agreeing to be tracked – could recognise which sites were most popular. Prompt questions provided, and people could record comments in response – these were loaded onto the website afterwards. Other features included a bookmark facility in the video stream so people could upload their comments later after watching the TV channel etc.

Prompting worked – encouraged people to generate information, and made the content relevant.

Various other means of working with similar technology were also discussed by Andy in relation to this.