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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K012649/1
Title: Hyper-privacy: Case of Domestic Violence (Hyper-DoVe)
Principal Investigator: van Moorsel, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Balaam, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr LB Arief
Project Partners:
Northumbria Local Criminal Justice Board The Angelou Centre
Department: Computing Sciences
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2013 Ends: 31 March 2014 Value (£): 121,340
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Processes Information & Knowledge Mgmt
Social Work
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Sep 2012 EPSRC : Research in the Wild Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This Research in the Wild project addresses the "Sustainable Society" challenges by applying technologies in tackling problems associated with domestic violence, enabling victims of domestic violence to obtain support and assistance, and therefore improving their quality of life.

Increasingly individuals embrace mobile and internet technologies as an integral part of their daily lives. As a result, various concerns have been raised with regard to privacy and social implications of living with and through such technologies. This project investigates and responds to these concerns by exploring the needs and challenges associated with hyper-privacy. By "hyper-privacy", we mean situations where privacy is so paramount that any privacy breach or information leakage could lead to psychological harm, physical harm or even death.

We propose that one situation where hyper-privacy is crucial is that of domestic violence, where victims of domestic violence require hyper-privacy in order to safely seek help, or even in accessing certain online resources. However, the current reality for a victim of domestic violence is that any attempt to seek help, either from friends and family or from support organisations, is likely to attract attention and risk further abuse.

In 2010-2011, we collaborated with the Angelou Centre, a North East support centre for Black and Minority Ethnic women in investigating the technological issues that most affect victims of domestic violence. The purpose of the study was to understand these issues better and thereby improve the accessibility of digital support services aimed at helping victims. Our research so far shows that victims have two major barriers to successfully accessing the support services they require:

- locating the support services and the organisations that provide them;

- fear of provoking further abuse if their abuser discovers that they have been seeking help.

In effect, victims are being excluded from the socio-technical systems that the rest of us take for granted due to their personal circumstances. The objective of our research is to overcome these barriers by refining, developing and evaluating a toolkit of hyper-privacy technologies that enable users to achieve hyper-privacy while accessing information online, with minimum effort and without leaving digital record of their visit.

In order to design and develop hyper-privacy technologies appropriate for use by end users experiencing domestic violence, it is vital that these end users, and staff at support centres, are involved in all aspects of the design and evaluation of such technologies so that they sufficiently meet the end users' needs and requirements. In response, our methodology incorporates participatory, experience-centred design methods to ensure that women's voices, needs and requirements are well accommodated for in resulting designs and technologies from the outset of the project. Further to this, we take an iterative design, development and evaluation approach and by doing so seek to create a range of opportunities and spaces through which end users and service providers can engage with and influence the design and implementation of hyper-privacy technologies.

We acknowledge that even well-designed technology will not be a single solution to our end users' hyper-privacy needs. Education/training will also need to be provided to achieve workable and practical hyper-privacy solutions. For example, we have conducted technology training for regional Independent Sexual/Domestic Violence Agencies (ISVA/IDVA) in collaboration with the Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security and the Northumbria Criminal Justice Board (http://cccs.ncl.ac.uk/regional-victim-charities-back-in-the-class-room.html). To reflect this understanding, this project will also investigate how such education and training can be achieved and improved further, resulting in a set of guidelines and best practices to address these issues.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk