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Social and Business Informatics (SBI) is a research strand within the Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE) which forms part of the Institute for Policy and Practice at Newcastle University and is closely allied with the Newcastle University Business School. SBI is a collaboration between researchers focusing on the social, economic, managerial, organisational and cultural aspects of the design, development, deployment and use of information and communication technologies and their social consequences. KITE brings together Newcastle's extensive research capabilities on aspects of innovation and enterprise, incorporating research on the social, economic, managerial, organisational and cultural aspects of information and communications technologies and their social consequences, and studies of the role of universities in society. KITE has a portfolio of current and recent research and consultancy projects from a variety of funders such as the Department of Health, Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, JISC, OECD, and a variety of local and regional agencies. Recent studies include work on partnership networking architecture in multi-agency environments, regional science policies, university contributions to regional development, processes of learning in city-regions, university spin off companies, transformative effects of ICTs on regions. KITE has approximately 13 Academic Staff, 9 Contract Research Staff, and 3 Support Staff members. For more information on SBI see

The role of the University of Newcastle, SBI group in OLDES is multi-faceted. The first part is the leadership and major part in the delivery of work package 1 (months 1-6) which aims to derive an initial set of service requirements (including overall socio-technical design of the OLDES implementation including aspects of governance; ethical issues; metrics for success). The second part is involvement throughout the work of the OLDES project, using a range of tools and techniques, to ensure the application of user-centred design (including participation in the usability testing and overall assurance to IS0 13407 standards) and overall learning evaluation of the project. This work is being undertaken through the following:

  1. An initial scoping and gathering phase requires a wide ranging survey of pilot contexts identifying all of the elements and interests that interact in the practice of care for older people in the pilot contexts. It is important that this survey is not unduly pre-limited in scope because it is a primary objective to identify and explore the boundaries of the problem. We have stressed that the OLDES “product” must, in fact, imply the configuration of a value chain and infrastructure. Many of the elements of this chain and network exist – this is not a green field site. The outcome of this initial survey is a set of materials which are reflected back to the pilots to validate and ground their observations and analysis.

  2. A similar information gathering exercise will also be undertaken addressing the supply side within the project to identify some of the hypotheses regarding the capability and applicability of both processes and technology which are embedded in the current proposal.

  3. Following on based on the grounded insights into the contexts and the capabilities the objective of the social informatics based approach is to facilitate the constructive dialogue between the different interests, disciplines and cultures within the OLDES project and among its clients. The spirit of this process is not based on the generation of proposed solutions on one side and the attempt to sell them to the other but rather upon the co-construction of meanings and the exploration of possibilities. In the early stages of this process, the “boundary objects”, around which discussion takes place, take the form of animations and simulations. As the process proceeds, these are replaced by functioning prototypes and the instrumented visualisation of the behaviours of real infrastructure and systems.

  4. Newcastle University will be deploying a visualisation tool and platform which is part of the project background, to support this process and will be responsible for facilitating the process of shared development to deliver the User Centred Design activity.

  5. .Finally academic and dissemination work in a range of regional, national and international forums to propagate the learning from OLDES

Rob Wilson


Newcastle University Business School And Social and Business Informatics (SBI) group

Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE)

Institute of Policy and Practice,

Newcastle University


Citygate St James' Boulevard




Phone number: 44 (0)191 2430790