Short course ‘Using sensors in social research’

Register online or contact Kristrún Gunnarsdóttir.

The Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS) at the University of Surrey has announced the short course, Using sensors in social research, Monday 10 and Tuesday 11  September 2018. Hosted at the University on Stag Hill in Guildford (see Google map), this will be an opportunity for research practitioners to learn about the use of digital sensors from members of the ESRC/NCRM funded HomeSense project.

Using sensors in social research will mix short presentations, interactive hands-on and exploratory sessions, group work and discussions for participants to obtain a good understanding of the technologies and operating processes required for effective inclusion and management of this method.

It will also enable researchers to ask ‘how’ and ‘if’ sensors could be used in their own research, and how to address the ethical, consent, data security, confidentiality and other issues involved. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance of this NCRM methods course.

The lessons learned and inside knowledge from the HomeSense field trial will also be presented, explaining and demonstrating the analytic tools and techniques required for visualising, interpreting and understanding household activities based largely on sensor-generated data.

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Demystifying the technology important for ensuring the confidences of field trial participants

Six months into the HomeSense project, Prof. Nigel Gilbert outlined the “interesting ethics issues” that required attention before the field trial could responsibly get underway in volunteer households.

Nigel Gilbert at ESRC RMF 2016
Nigel Gilbert at ESRC RMF 2016

In his presentation, “The Ethics of Sensors” at the 2016 ESRC Research Methods Festival in Bath, Nigel explained the ambition of HomeSense to enable social researchers to use digital sensors alongside self-reported methods and observations. The project is also assessing the extent to which householders might accept sensors in their homes for research, and the final output will be a set of guidelines for use in such studies.

More refined or automated applications of digital sensors in social research could, it’s hoped, lead to more effective assisted living and telecare services, or more efficient use of energy. But before experimenting with sensors in people’s households, some obvious, and less obvious, questions of ethics ought to be addressed. Continue reading “Demystifying the technology important for ensuring the confidences of field trial participants”