Digital Futures in focus as UK experts gather in Aberdeen

The impact of advances in digital technology on many aspects of our lives in the future takes centre-stage this week as 300 of the UK’s leading researchers and industry experts converge on Aberdeen to share challenges, opportunities, innovations and research.

Digital Futures 2012, taking place 23-25 October at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, is the third annual UK-wide Digital Economy All Hands Conference, focusing on transforming the lives of people, communities and businesses through the design and deployment of innovative information and communication technologies.

Keynote presentations will focus on technology for the developing world from Edward Cutrell of Microsoft India, digital technologies and how we generate, consume and think about energy with Alex Rogers of the University of Southampton, and the theme of developing analytics for a smarter planet with Dakshi Agrawal of IBM.

Nick Appleyard, Head of Digital at the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, will speak about the Connected Digital Economy Catapult due to open next year. The Catapult will be a world-leading centre of technology and innovation designed to accelerate innovation and stimulate growth in this important area of the economy.

Digital Futures 2012 will provide a multi-disciplinary environment for sharing ideas about how digital advances can make an impact on society across a range of sectors including transport, healthcare, financial services, and the creative industries.

The three-day event will feature keynote presentations, formal paper sessions including presentations from postgraduate research students, and technology demonstrations. For the first time there will also be a dedicated exhibition space, showcasing the work of the Digital Economy community.

Academic researchers and industry experts from major global providers will cover a wide and varied programme, with topics including how older people use web information, how charities use social media for marketing, new technology to video-monitor changes in our natural environment, the new culture of enjoying music online and how ‘recommender’ systems work, and the emergent role of social media in dealing with death and mourning.

On the health front, the issues around privacy and electronic patient records, and views from patients about the acceptability of digital technology for cancer after-care are just two of the topics in the programme. 

Sessions will also include an update on TRUMP (Trusted Mobile Platform for the Self-Management of Chronic Illness in Rural Areas) which is a three-year collaboration between researchers at Aberdeen and other UK universities working with counterparts in India to explore the potential of using second-generation mobile devices to help people living in remote and rural areas to manage their own long-term chronic health conditions.

Digital Economy research is funded and coordinated by Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella body of the UK's seven government-funded Research Councils. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing RCUK works closely with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education Funding Councils, business, government, and charitable organisations. Research is focused on three national research hubs (see Notes below).

Professor Peter Edwards, director of the dot.rural research hub at the University of Aberdeen, and chair of the organising committee for Digital Futures 2012 said: “We are really excited to be hosting this year's Digital Economy All Hands conference. This year's event has a particular focus on Disruptive Innovation and the presentations will explore the different ways in which the Digital Economy is transforming society and the economy.”

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