Demonstrator projects

In this article

Working with partners from different sectors, the Data and Design Lab delivered projects proving the value of insight to drive economic recovery.

In 2020 the world faced unique challenges from COVID-19 and through funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) we engaged with locals businesses, high streets, the Government and festivals to show how data can be used to overcome obstacles.

Through four demonstrator projects, we:

  • Showed how local high streets could recover coming out of the pandemic in Future of the High Streets.
  • Documented the changes local businesses and delivery companies used to adapt to Covid-19 through the Covid Arcadia project.
  • Helped Edinburgh International Festival reach customers digitally through the production of an app encouraging users to consider the climate crisis through Entering the New Real project.
  • Used twitter databases to see how the worldwide perception of Scotland in its response to Covid-19 could be informative to the Scottish Government through the Digital Influence project

Watch the project videos and download case-studies

Future of the High Streets

Can small-scale changes to the built environment provide meaningful improvement to our high streets?

This project looked at high streets in the Edinburgh areas of Gorgie/Dalry and Dalkeith and worked with residents, business owners and local organisations to make places more attractive as destinations while addressing problems caused by Covid-19 such as social distancing.

Future of the High Street used a mixed methods approach and combined data-driven insights, co-design and rapid prototyping. This involved various qualitative and co-design elements, as well as a working with a range of place specific data. Understanding the challenges for Scottish local high street businesses and residents in the face of Covid-19, and the opportunities to make small changes that will help reinvigorate high streets.

Download the project PDF

Covid Arcadia

Refashioning movement through material and digital adaptations in Edinburgh’s independent retail sector

Covid Arcadia is a project documenting and analysing responses to the restrictions brought in by local businesses in Edinburgh as a result of the Covid-19 national lockdown. The project mapped retailers’ digital and material adaptations to create a moving archive, and play findings back to the businesses themselves to help them innovate in a resilient way.

The project used digital ethnographic methods to track patterns of endurance and recovery among independent retailers in Edinburgh. Physical changes which allowed retailers to continue trading, such as the use of perspex screens and social distancing were documented, while also looking at how the relationship of those businesses to their customers changed through the use of digital platforms, such as social media.

Download the project PDF

Entering the New Real

Harnessing data-driven experiences to support Edinburgh’s festivals and inspire behavioural change that responds to the climate emergency

As a response to the cultural loss of the Edinburgh festivals in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Edinburgh Futures Institute Design Lab project Experience in the New Real developed AWEN, a digital walking experience powered by environmental data and modelling that encourages users to connect with their local environment and reflect on the global climate crisis

The project worked with Edinburgh Science Festival to produce the “A walk encountering nature” (AWEN) app which invites users to take a walk in their local environment and prompting them to think, reflect and playfully engage with the global data around the climate and environment to see what they can see around themselves.

Download the project PDF

Digital Influence

Measuring public sentiment and perceptions of Scotland by building a large-scale searchable Twitter database to map social media narratives

The Digital Influence and Intelligence Lab (DIIL) is leading research in co-development with the Scottish Government to map perceptions of Scotland in the context of social, cultural and political events on social media. This insight is leveraged to understand digital influence and its impact on emotional resonance and perceptions of Scotland, particularly in relation to Covid-19.

The Digital Influence project was a collaboration between DIIL, the Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh. Examining the perceptions of Scotland in the wake of Covid-19 and Brexit, its goal was to analyse digital influence by optimising data-driven monitoring methods.

Download the project PDF


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