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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V042130/1
Title: Environmental impacts of digital services for health and wellbeing in the home
Principal Investigator: Hiteva, Dr R P
Other Investigators:
Smallman, Dr ML Gallego Schmid, Dr A Foxon, Professor TJ
Royston, Dr S Childs, Professor P Smith, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: University of Sussex Business School
Organisation: University of Sussex
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2021 Ends: 31 December 2023 Value (£): 889,060
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2021 Digital Economy Sustainable Digital Society 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In order to understand the environmental impact of digital technologies (e.g. video intercom systems) and services (e.g. telecare), offered widely in special social housing for elderly people (e.g. independent living schemes), this project studies i) the built environment (e.g. the materials and systems used in such homes); ii) how users/elderly people interact with these digital technologies; and iii) the roles and experiences of professional eHealth intermediaries in providing health services in the home. We quantify the environmental impacts of these technologies and services in the home, from cradle to grave/throughout their lifecycle, in terms of their carbon and water footprints, the extent to which they lead to depletion of resources, etc). On the basis of these and working with users, carers, technology providers and property managers, we identify alternative ways of improving these environmental impacts through changes in the technologies, built environment and practices of use and provision.

Providing different angles of understanding the social and technological processes involved in shaping these technologies and services in the home, in a complementary way is a fundamental aspect of the project. Therefore, we use a mixture of methods, such as narrative-based interviews and case studies, and data, such as number of video calls out to health professionals; energy usage by digital systems and how efficiently are technologies used to evaluate the environmental impact of these technologies and services as they take place in social housing for the elderly. To better understand these different social and technological aspects and how they interact with each other, we work with users, health professionals and a broader group of organisations and individuals which are directly and indirectly part of the ways in which these digital technologies and services take place, in a way which enables these groups to talk about things that matter to them rather than follow our pre-determined agenda. We adjust what we are doing throughout the project according to this input.

Throughout the project we will actively and directly take action to reduce the environmental impact of the research project itself in all its parts, not only implementing small and mundane changes (such as using less or no paper in the process of research) to coming up with new ways to collect data, plan events and engage with key audiences for the research. For example, we will extend the lifespan of research products by reusing equipment (IT, digital recorders, etc.) and share equipment between the different teams. To do this we will develop a Sustainable Research plan, using existing best practices, and through continuous consultation with the key people and organisations we will be working with. The plan will evolve with our engagement with different partners and with the needs of the project. We will continuously monitor our performance and report on environmental sustainability to ensure that we are indeed enhancing or directly benefiting the environment through the project.

Working with several key partners: Orbit (a housing association), Appello (a digital system developer), NHS Digital (health service provider) and UCL's Tomorrow's Home 2050 project: Visions of Home-based Healthcare (an immersive interactive space where the home of the future in 30 years' time is brought alive), allows us to trace and observe some of the digital technologies during their development, use in the home and as embedded within a broader digital health environment. This offers the project a connected and comprehensive view. Most importantly, we will work together to identify new practical ways of taking direct action and doing so, to enhance the environment through the use of digital technologies and services in the home.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk