Corsham’s Safer Internet Day - video

Corsham’s Safer Internet Day - video

“It’s important to be safe online, because lots of people are being bullied...”


“If people don’t learn about online safety… anything can happen”


These are just two of the comments from young people in Corsham, featured in the video Ci filmed in a number of Corsham area schools as part of our work on Safer Internet Day 2018.

Teachers also reflect on the work being done to bring the schools and community together to empower young people to use the internet safely. We want to create informed citizens of the future and by involving the whole community in the conversation about this, children, parents, teachers and carers we can start to have some real impact.


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Other activities to support Safer Internet Day in Corsham include an exhibition of findings from the survey of 2000-plus pupils, which runs at the Springhill Campus throughout February half-term before touring the participating schools.

Corsham Safer Internet Survey 2018 – the results

Corsham Safer Internet Survey 2018 – the results

Ci today published the full results of the Corsham Safer Internet Survey, carried out with 10 schools across the Corsham area to mark Safer Internet Day 2018.

The survey included responses from over 2000 pupils: 1,243 Primary School and 840 Secondary School students between the ages of 4 and 18 from across Corsham, Box, Neston and Colerne.

Some of the key headlines were as follows:

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  • 36 per cent of 11-18-year old girls have felt bullied online in the last 12 months; in contrast only 23 per cent of boys say the same thing.

  • The average age children got their first social media account was 10.9 years old, despite most social media sites asking users to be 13 or over.

  • 46 per cent of 11-18-year-olds said that Instagram was the first social media account they signed up to, while 14 per cent said it was Snapchat and 21 per cent Facebook.

  • Overall 10 per cent of 11-18-year-olds have ‘felt pressured’ to share a picture of themselves online. Broken down by gender, 13 per cent of girls said they had, compared to 6 per cent of boys.

  • A quarter of secondary school children are using the internet to meet with people they have never met before. 32 per cent of young people at Secondary School said that in the last year they had contact with someone online who they hadn’t met face-to-face before.

  • 30 per cent of 4-18-year-olds admitted they have been “upset or bothered by something they saw online” in the past year

  • 10 per cent of 11-18-year-olds admitted they have treated someone online in a hurtful or mean way in the past year

You can read more about the survey findings here.

Corsham Institute are proud to be working with schools and local groups to ensure the next generation are properly informed about how to use the internet safely. Our programme of activities and events this week will provide information for parents, pupils and teachers about how to reduce the risks posed by online sites and social media and ensure our community enjoys digital technology safely and confidently.

The Corsham Safer Internet Survey results form part of a special exhibition which opens today for a fortnight at Springfield Community Campus, Beechfield Road, Corsham SN13 9DN.

All the schools in the area have also been coordinating special Safer Internet Day activities, lessons, assemblies and parent/carer workshops to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people.

We’ll be posting a video, produced by Ci 's Creative Team, on this blog showcasing some of the great local school activities.


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How can the internet be made safer?

How can the internet be made safer?

‘Hopefully, in 10 years’ time, the internet will be a nicer place.’ - Secondary School pupil


We would all, of course, agree that the internet should be a safer and more respectful place, but how does the next generation think the internet will change and how could it be made better?

In the run-up to Safer Internet Day (6 February), we’ve been engaging with local schools in Corsham. Ten schools – all those in the local area – have been involved and over 2,000 children across the age groups have responded to a survey about their online usage and behaviours. More detailed results will be published on this blog next week.


Before then, here’s a taster of some of the pupils’ fascinating and insightful responses to some of the survey questions.

On the question of who is responsible for making the internet safer primary age children gave wideranging answers from The Queen to Siri, from Mummy to my Head Teacher, to the Community, to everyone in the World.

Looking ahead to what the internet will be like in a decade, views from a range of secondary school students included:

‘that, in 10 years’ time the internet will be faster, safer, cooler, more private, more sophisticated and there will be artificial intelligence and more social media’.


And how could it be better?

‘The internet would be a better place if there were less adverts, less hackers, more filtering of inappropriate content and more privacy.’  - Secondary School pupils

‘The internet would be a safer place if people only signed up to social media accounts for their age and if people were more careful who they talk to online.’ - Secondary School pupils

‘The internet would be a better place if there wasn’t so much pressure on your appearance.’ - Secondary School pupil


The full survey responses and the statistical results will be presented in a week-long public exhibition in Corsham to coincide with Safer Internet Day and then in further reports and blogs by Ci.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year, to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, it involves over a thousand schools and hundreds of organisations getting involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people. 

Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe.

More details about our work for Safer Internet Day can be found here.

Supporting children in a changing world

Supporting children in a changing world

Life in Likes, the recent report from the Children’s Commissioner on social media use by 8-12 year olds, injected some much needed realism and insight into the debate about children’s adoption of technology.

Social media sites’ terms and conditions may say they restrict users to children aged 13 or over, but there is a steady rise in the use of social media by children much younger than that. Ofcom’s 2017 report, Children’s Media Lives, reported that 28% of 10 year olds have a social media profile, rising to 46% at 11, 51% at 12 and then 72% at 13 when they are ‘allowed’ access.  “Life in Likes” suggested that the figures for under-13’s may well be higher, and that three-quarters of 10-12 year olds now have a social media account.

Informed by focus groups with 8-12 year olds, the Children’s Commissioner’s report suggested that there was a “cliff edge” for children at the transition from primary to secondary school, with increased exposure to online pressures for which they were unprepared. The discussions suggested that this led to children: seeing “likes” as a form of social validation; worrying about keeping up appearances and an online “image”; oversharing personal information; and being anxious at missing out if not connected. As Ofcom’s research also charted a steep hike in smartphone ownership at this point of transition – from 39% of 8-11 year olds to 83% of 12-15 year olds – it is easy to see how the relationship between children and technology can move from being a source of creativity, fun and entertainment in the home environment to one associated with constant social and emotional pressure, both in and out of school.

Far from being “digital natives”, confident in their relationship with tech, children and young people need to be supported, informed and empowered to build resilience, critical thinking and digital literacy. Not just once, as a curriculum tick-box, but throughout their school years and into lifelong learning in order to keep pace with the evolution of technology and its uses. When the Children’s Commissioner also reports that 73% of parents are concerned about their children accessing inappropriate material online, 49% are worried about their children oversharing personal information, and 61% fear social media is an overwhelming distraction (Growing Up Digital, 2017) there has never been more of a need to bring parents along on the journey too, so that the huge benefits of digital technology for their children’s futures aren’t lost in an existential panic about the online world they have entered.

What to do? “Life in Likes” recommended that the Government:

  • Broaden digital literacy education beyond safety messages, to develop children’s critical awareness, resilience and understanding of algorithms, focusing on the transition stage from primary to secondary school.  
  • Inform parents about the ways in which children’s social media use changes with age, particularly on entry to secondary school, and help them support children to use social media in a positive way, and to disengage from it.

So it is positive to see that significant – and coordinated – proposals along these lines are being put forward by the Government through last year’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper from DCMS and the joint Department of Health/Department for Education Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health, which is currently out for consultation until 2 March. Both these papers recognise that digital skills are no longer just about coding and child protection online but also about relationships, citizenship and life skills. Indeed DfE’s current consultation/call for evidence (which closes on 12 February) on the introduction of compulsory teaching on Relationships (in primary schools) and Relationships and Sex Education (in secondary schools) includes aspects of digital resilience and critical thinking in the proposed curriculum.

“This decision [to make Relationships education compulsory] was taken in recognition of the fact that children need more support to navigate growing up in an increasingly complex and digital world. Whilst the internet is an overwhelmingly positive development in our lives, it does present significant challenges, particularly for young people. The dominance of social media, the prevalence of cyber-bullying and the risk that children learn about relationships from untrustworthy sources – the evidence was compelling that young people need support to make the right decisions and keep themselves safe online”.

We recognise this need for support and we’re doing our bit at Ci. Read more at the links below:


Season’s greetings from the Ci team

Season’s greetings from the Ci team

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As we head towards the Christmas break, it’s time for a little reminder of what Corsham Institute (Ci) has been up to in 2017.

Wishing you all a happy and relaxing festive season. We look forward to working with all our communities, partners and supporters again in the New Year. 

A review of 2017

It’s been busy! Here are some of our highlights.

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Expanding our team

Over the year we have welcomed a new CEO and 11 members of staff to our expanding team, including two apprentices and an executive leadership team. In the new year, we are also expecting to appoint a new Chair and more Trustees to our Board. 
As a result of our growing team and our desire to be closer to our networks and key stakeholders, we’ve now opened a London office.


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Thought Leadership

A major highlight for us this year was the successful second season of our Thought Leadership events, in partnership with RAND Europe. The 2017 programme saw representatives from industry, academia, the not-for-profit sector and Government come together to discuss Open Science, Digital Currency, Digital Learning and Civic Engagement. You can find out more about our Thought Leadership programme and read the reports here.


Observatory for a Connected Society

In October we launched our first app, the Observatory for a Connected Society, in partnership with RAND Europe. It is a ‘one-stop shop’ for the latest research, analysis and thinking from leading experts on the impact of digital technologies, services and tools on society. Find out more about the app and where to download it here.


Countering Violent Extremism

This September, we launched our Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme. This programme is built on a combination of positive narrative, education and data, and through it we have launched a regular CVE podcast which is now amongst the 5% most downloaded podcasts globally. 


Digital Leaders South West

In November this year, Ci was also delighted to launch a new partnership with Digital Leaders. We will be working together to facilitate new and refreshing thought leadership, networking opportunities and exciting events for the digital community across the South West region.



In 2017, Ci became the national partner of The Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools®. This UK-wide programme helps children stay safe online. Cyber4Schools® is currently being piloted in Gloucestershire.

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Ci Patron Programme

Building mutually beneficial partnerships and a network of supporters is key to our success and the impact we deliver. During 2017 we introduced our new Patron programme, creating a community of influential organisations and individuals that share our vision and support our mission and work programme. To find out more about becoming a Patron click here.

We look forward to continue working for a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society based on trust and security. Keep an eye on our Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for all our latest news and activities.

AI, data ethics and digital society: we need to talk …

AI, data ethics and digital society: we need to talk …

Artificial intelligence, data ethics and trust have risen up the tech thought-leadership agenda in recent months. TechUK’s excellent Digital Ethics summit on 13 December brought together a veritable who’s who of influencers and leaders from industry, academia, government and policy institutions for a day of lively and engaging debate. #AIethics was even trending on Twitter as the summit progressed, to the bemusement of athletics fans clicking on what they thought was a misspelt hashtag.

It’s not all just talk: not one, but two bodies focusing on data ethics and innovation have been announced in recent months. The Government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was announced in the Autumn Budget , while the Nuffield Foundation has brought a number of partners together to establish a Convention on Data Ethics and Artificial Intelligence, set out in detail by Nuffield’s Tim Gardam in his speech at the techUK summit. How they will work together, and avoid duplication and blurred boundaries, will be a challenge in an already crowded institutional landscape. Maybe, as Antony Walker, deputy Chief Executive of techUK, suggested in his closing remarks, the Government body might deal with the here-and-now political imperatives, while the Nuffield Convention might focus on horizon-scanning, creating space for deeper consideration of longer-term issues before they materialise. Sensible in theory, but a potential leadership and accountability muddle in practice.

Throughout the summit, speaker after speaker emphasised the importance of building trust, engaging the public, and of bridging the gap between innovators and customers, between industry and civic society. It’s a theme that also ran through the discussions at the Royal Society and British Academy’s seminar in October on “Data management and use: governance in the 21st century”. Their report and the associated papers, including a contribution from Maeve Walsh, Ci’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, was also published to coincide with the techUK summit. So, it was reassuring to hear from Tim Gardam that public engagement was a priority for the Nuffield Convention – though his conclusion that it was “one critical area where we have to further define our thinking” also suggests it might take a while.

Ci has long believed that the citizen must be at the heart of all decisions about the kind of digital future we want to build. This was a resounding conclusion from our Thought Leadership programme this year. The pace of technological change and the speed of innovation means that many profound changes to the way we live are already underway. Some of these may be hugely beneficial for individuals and communities, and socially or ethically neutral; others may have disturbing unintended consequences or create unequal socio-economic impacts. Some may be both, at the same time. What is certain is that Governments, regulators and policymakers are currently playing catch-up, whether it’s trying to mitigate the impact of the bad stuff, or create the conditions to amplify and spread the benefits of the good.

But speed of change is no excuse for not starting a dialogue with the public now. There isn’t going to be a natural break in the pace of technological transformation anytime soon, no pause in progress where we can take a deep breath and take stock. This is no longer a debate about the kind of digital society we want to see in the future, but what kind of society. Shaping this future, as Matt Hancock acknowledged at the techUK summit, is not something Government can do alone. Nor, we would argue, can the impressive range of organisations – however broad and diverse – at the techUK summit, or any number of other such events every week. This debate has to break out of the tech-conference circuit and speak directly to the public in terms that are meaningful to them.

That is why a few weeks ago we hosted a roundtable with groups from across civic society and the charitable sector to discuss the current common themes and concerns in relation to digital engagement and technological progress. Our starting point was that the dialogue between Government and the tech industry on the kind of future we want to see has to be informed, urgently, by the citizen’s perspective. In short: if the Government’s Digital Charter was truly citizen-centric, what would it look like?

At our roundtable, we heard from groups representing older people, young people, disadvantaged groups and those with disabilities, as well as representatives from industry, those working in the field of digital inclusion and engagement, and researchers. As we’d hoped, there was an overwhelming consensus that greater collaboration and partnership on common priorities across these interest groups was vital, that we need to bring the citizen into the conversation, and that we must ensure that we protect and support the most vulnerable in society to make choices about how technology will affect them.

We’ll be continuing this dialogue and collaboration with urgency and enthusiasm in the New Year. Watch this space and get in touch if you’d like to be involved. 

Cyber4Schools® kicks off its pilot in Gloucestershire

Cyber4Schools® kicks off its pilot in Gloucestershire

This week marked an important milestone for the pilot of Cyber4Schools®, the learning programme to help children stay safe online. Ci is the national partner to the Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools®. Professor Richard Benham, Ci’s Programme Director for Cyber, Trust and Security, carried out the first online safety lesson with Year 7 pupils at Chosen Hill School in Gloucestershire. 

The pilot’s focus is on 11-year-olds, the typical age when smartphones give children their first unsupervised access to the Internet, and is supported by Gloucestershire Police, Gloucestershire County Council and Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The pilot

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Martin Surl, was the first PCC in the country to make cyber security a police priority. At the start of their lesson, the children were delighted to be presented with a CyberCitizen® for their school by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Chris Brierley. This life-size character created by Cyber4Schools®  provides the pupils with an appealing, visual reminder of the importance of being safe online. They then enjoyed a range of interactive activities, quizzes and a discussion about how to use mobile devices safely, with some fun facts and videos about staying safe online. They all received personalised certificates at the end of the lesson. 


Media coverage

Cyber4Schools® received lots of media interest on the day. Journalists interviewed the Head of Chosen Hill School, Kirsten Harrison, and talked to the children. They also spoke to Chris Brierley, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, and Professor Benham. As soon as the press coverage is published we'll post the links here.

This links to the blog post from Gloucestershire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner: Cyber4Schools - a lesson in how to keep safe online

On the Heart Gloucestershire News Facebook page they have posted a short video about the Cyber4Schools® pilot. 

Why online safety education for children is important

The learning experience children enjoy nowadays has evolved rapidly, corresponding with the pace of technological change around them. They’re digitally aware, jumping into the latest social media trends and sharing more personal information online than any previous generation. They take advantage of what the Internet has to offer, using it to build on their knowledge and expand their network of friendships. The recently published Digital Childhood Report highlights a rapid increase in the number of young people between 10 and 12 using digital devices. But has their social maturity evolved at the same pace as the technology around them? And do they have the skills and knowledge to understand how to behave and stay safe online?

More and more people, including children, are falling victim to cyberbullying, cybercrime and exploitation. In its 2016–17 Childline annual review, the NSPCC recorded an increase in children and young people talking to Childline about online safety and abuse. Over the year there were more than 12,200 counselling sessions, up 9 per cent on the previous year.

Baroness Beeban-Kidron’s 5Rights Framework, and the Children’s Commissioner in her recent report, Growing up Digital, identified the societal imperative to protect and safeguard our children online. Cyber4Schools® responds to this need, helping 11-year-olds to become informed cybercitizens, essential for a thriving future society and economy.

The pilot in Gloucestershire is the first step towards achieving this. It's important to listen, learn and gather feedback to shape and improve the programme.


Support for the national rollout

We are keen to hear from sponsors and partners who can help us scale the Cyber4Schools programme and are keen for schools to register their interest.  For further information, please contact us on

This holiday season, children all over the country will receive the latest tech gifts, allowing them to browse the Internet, stream videos, play games, share content and connect with friends more easily than ever before. Ci is delighted to be the national partner to the Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools® at this time, equipping some of these young people with the essential skills they’ll need to keep themselves safe online.

Britain’s big (epistemological) break

Britain’s big (epistemological) break

An epistemic break has gripped the British Isles — a crisis of understanding of what is true, what is false and how we collectively decide.

Modern culture’s greatest institutions — of all four estates — are called into question on a daily basis. The government makes a declaration. A newscaster calls it false. A blogger claims something else. And your Best Facebook Friend says they’re all liars, before adding a new news link.

Whether we call it “computational propaganda”, viral disinformation, or simply “Fake News”, the civil society and its citizens seemingly struggle now more than ever with truth and lies.

Government inquiries into fake news have been launched in several countries, including the UK’s own Parliamentary Select Committee investigation, adding evidence to the prospect of a crisis state. Just consider that according to Demos, 67% of the British public are concerned about fake news.

How did we get here? We propose a few ideas in our own submission to the Select Committee, pointing out that fake news is now one of the most powerful forces countering democracy, that the rise of social media has changed the nature and distribution of real news, and that fake news contributes to radical ideologies that encourage acts of violence, from radical Islam through white nationalism.

We make several recommendations as well, including establishing programmes to promote critical thinking skills around digital and social media, helping citizens separate the truth from the hype.

Was there ever a halcyon time when truth was truth, without dispute? Doubtful. Propaganda has been with us from the beginning of recorded civilisation, but democracy is a process, not a destination — all the more reason that constant vigilance, long-view approaches, and ongoing programmes of media education and literacy are vital to maintaining the interests and ideals of the civil society.

Read Ci’s submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee’s investigation into fake news on our app, The Observatory for a Connected Society.

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Building trust in the future

Building trust in the future

The Chancellor opened his Autumn Budget statement looking forward to “A future that will be full of change; full of new challenges and above all full of new opportunities.”

As is traditional, his set-piece speech was prefaced by trails, tasters and teasers. For those with an eye on tech and innovation, there was not just one but three separate packages of announcements in the last week, with not-insignificant funding commitments.

So, before the Chancellor even got to his feet today, we knew about:

o   An increase in the number of Exceptional Talent Visas from 1,000 to 2,000, to attract international tech specialists to work in the UK

o   £21m for Tech City UK, the organisation which supports the UK’s start-up ecosystem, to expand its network and become ‘Tech Nation’

o   £20m to stimulate the growth of GovTech start-ups and provide innovative solutions to public service challenges

o   £20m towards a new CyberFirst training programme for 14–18 year olds.

  • A commitment to have driverless cars on the road by 2021 and trails for Budget announcements of £75m investment in AI, £100m in computer science teaching and £160m in 5G mobile networks.
  • A taster for the Industrial Strategy White Paper (due on Monday 27 November) that included:

o   a pledge to increase public and private spending on R&D to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, with an extra £2.3 billion of government investment to start from 2021–22

o   a promise of investment in four “Grand Challenges”: AI and the data economy; clean growth; healthy ageing; and the future of mobility.


At the despatch box, a further £20bn worth of tax relief over 10 years for innovative businesses and scale-ups was also announced. So far, so good for tech. But what of the readiness of the society into which these investments will be made, start-ups supported and innovations developed and delivered? Interventions like the GovTech fund and the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges are shrewdly designed with a threefold purpose: to provide economic stimulus; to accelerate UK global competitiveness in cutting-edge technologies where we already have a significant strength; and to develop improved, innovative services for the wider public good.

But there is much to do to ensure that the benefits of this high-tech future, as well as its economic advantages, are felt equally throughout society. Encouragingly, the supporting Budget documents include a commitment to establishing a “Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to ensure safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation in AI and data‑driven technologies”. But this must also be accompanied by a programme of proactive engagement work if the public are to trust, and therefore adopt, the new services and products being designed for them in every sphere of their lives.

Recent evidence suggests there is a long way to go. Just this week, Sage published results from their “Optimism and Ethics” AI survey. It found that 43% of US respondents and 46% of those in the UK admitted that they have ‘no idea what AI is all about.’ Interestingly, 81% of their respondents still felt optimistic about its possibilities. But beneath this optimism, when you ask the public  for views on some of the specific new services and products being built with AI and other emerging technologies, trust is an increasingly important issue. Take, for example, driverless cars. Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review cited a survey of German car buyers that found only 5% would trust a fully autonomous vehicle; the RAC reported on a survey that found only 18% of respondents believed technology firms could be trusted to build self-driving vehicles and securely deal with connected data; and a US survey found that trust in autonomous vehicles had actually reduced since the previous year.

The Chancellor’s vision of driverless cars on UK roads by 2021 was greeted with scepticism by the BBC’s technology correspondent this week. And it would be easy to think that we have years to work on this trust thing as we wait for the technologists to deliver the goods.  Yet a ComRes survey for the Information Commissioner's Office earlier this month found that only 20% of the UK public have trust and confidence in companies storing their personal information. Data – whether personal, or produced by personal, household or other connected devices – is the foundation for the transformative potential of AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things. There is an immediate job of work – indeed something of a Grand Challenge – ahead for the government, the tech industry, the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and groups across civic society and the charitable sector to tackle the issue of trust together, and to ensure that public engagement and inclusion keeps pace with the speed of tech-driven change the Chancellor wants to embrace.   


A great reception for Ci’s new initiatives

A great reception for Ci’s new initiatives

Last Thursday 12 October, Ci and RAND Europe launched both our new Observatory for a Connected Society app and the reports from our 2017 Thought Leadership programme at the House of Lords. We were delighted to be joined, on a wonderfully sunny day, by around 160 invited guests from across industry, government, academia and the not-for-profit sector to celebrate our achievements.


The reception was kindly hosted by The Rt Hon. the Lord Knight of Weymouth and featured speeches from RAND Europe President Hans Pung, as well as a video on the government’s policy agenda from the Digital Minister, the Rt Hon. Matt Hancock MP, who was unable to attend in person.


You can download the Observatory for a Connected Society app here:


You can also find out more about our launch activities in the news post below, and download the reports from our research pages.

We are thrilled with the response we have received for the app and the reports – both at the launch event, and in subsequent feedback. Ci’s vision for a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society, based on trust and security, has really resonated with representatives from many different sectors and we look forward to building many collaborative partnerships to take forward our shared areas of interest.

We have also had huge support on social media and within digital networks for the launch, with some great coverage of our work:

Read Computer Weekly

Read Commentator piece

Read Public piece 

This is just the start for Ci. We are excited about what lies ahead and will build on the momentum from the launch with news on further activities and events, including our 2017–18 Thought Leadership programme, in the coming weeks and months.

To keep in touch, follow us on Twitter @Corsham_Inst for regular updates.


The launch of two new resources focusing on a connected society

The launch of two new resources focusing on a connected society


Today Ci and RAND Europe will bring together leaders from across government, academia, the not-for-profit sector and industry at the House of Lords to celebrate the launch of two exciting joint initiatives:

  1. The Observatory for a Connected Society is the first mobile app and online platform for policy makers and innovators focusing on the impact of technology on society.
  2. The new ‘Building our Connected Society’ report, which draws from the findings of our 2017 Thought Leadership programme, covers a range of trends, risks and needs for a UK society increasingly reliant on digital technologies.

Both of these resources are designed to help policy makers and leaders keep right up-to-date and critically informed about the digital developments that really matter from all sectors. We hope the resources will encourage ideas, collaboration, partnerships and innovation to help citizens embrace and adapt to our increasingly networked, connected and data-rich society. 

Watch Rachel Neaman, Ci’s CEO, and Hans Pung, President of RAND Europe, talk about the launch.

The Observatory for a Connected Society is the culmination of many months’ work with RAND Europe. It extends our Thought Leadership programme and helps us to continue to build a community of interest in all things digital. We’re really excited about the app’s potential, and this is just the start. We will continue to develop the platform together adding new functionality and features.

As an indispensable resource, it provides the most important research, analysis and thinking from leading experts on the opportunities and challenges of our digital society in one place for the first time.

It includes:

  • Authoritative, curated news and research, for example reports from World Bank, Nesta, Demos, Open Data Institute and World Economic Forum.
  • Analysis and insights based on the latest evidence, case studies and data from RAND Europe.
  • Commentary from high-profile thinkers, sector leaders and subject matter experts, for example new pieces from Jacqueline de Rojas, President of TechUK, on diversity in tech and Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, on his new role and its potential.
  • Details of the most important upcoming events, conferences, consultations and other activities.

The Observatory for a Connected Society is free to download here:


The findings from the ‘Building our Connected Society’ report reflect our four Thought Leadership discussions which took place earlier this year. These covered digital learning, open science, digital currency and civic engagement. The four discussions, held at St. George’s House, Windsor Castle, were attended by over 100 representatives from industry, academia, the not-for-profit sector and government with an interest in the future of the UK’s connected society.

The overriding message coming out of the discussions is that we cannot wait a moment longer to address the challenges, and the opportunities, ahead of us. 

These include:

  • The challenges posed by the pace of technological change across all sectors and all parts of society, and the difficulties for policy in keeping pace with this change.
  • The potential of digital technologies to provide significant benefits in some parts of society against the potential to amplify negative social and economic effects on others – whether through the lack of internet connectivity, lower levels of skills or reduced confidence and motivation.
  • The risks around data and ethics when the public uses digital technologies, with low public trust in the organisations and institutions that handle personal data online.
  • The need to define and mainstream a shared set of societal norms and standards when using digital technologies.
  • The need to provide information and training to help individuals critically challenge online material and deal more effectively misinformation and extreme views.
  • The digital skills gap between the older and younger generation, with younger people often able to use and understand digital technologies far better and faster than the older generations and, in some cases, even their teachers.

For more on the Thought Leadership programme’s 2017 topics click here.

Click here to download the summary report of the 2017 programme. 

Our 100th MoD veteran graduates with cyberskills

Our 100th MoD veteran graduates with cyberskills

Corsham Institute’s (Ci's) partnership with the IBM UK Citizenship Programme, IBM Security and SaluteMyJob to deliver digital and cybersecurity skills reaches a milestone this week, (w/e 9/9/2017), with the 100th MoD veteran graduating from training.

At a press event, attended by national and local media, Corsham Institute highlighted the huge skills shortage that exists in the digital world, where it’s been estimated up to 350,000 more cybersecurity specialists will be needed in Europe by 2022, yet only 17% of tech specialists are women.

The training programme recognises that service personnel have many of the soft skills and capabilities needed to work in the cyber arena, but lack recognised qualifications. Often this can be barrier to finding work on leaving the Forces.

One student on the course this week, who has applied for 100s of jobs, believes there’s a lack of understanding.

“With 18-years service in the military, in what were essentially project management roles, I now struggle with my cv and with applying for jobs, as although I believe I have the experience, I haven’t got the recognised civilian qualifications. This week has given me more optimism."

Julian Meyrick, Vice President, IBM Security Europe said;

“It makes perfect business sense to hire veterans into roles from threat monitoring analyst to penetration tester, security operations centre (SOC) analyst to cyber operations manager. They come with relevant soft skills that are often difficult to interview for. With the right training and investment, hiring veterans can help with the huge challenge of closing the cybersecurity skills gap". 

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With the wide variety of cybersecurity roles that exist today, many of the core attributes and skills needed to succeed in the industry can be developed outside of traditional four-year university degrees. Vocational schools, military veterans' programmes, coding camps, degree apprenticeships and skills-based certifications are all great ways to develop cybersecurity talent, which are often overlooked in traditional hiring and recruitment programmes.

Ci is committed to empowering people to develop the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills that they need in the digital age and to find ways to go beyond traditional ideas of knowledge and education.

Managing Director of SaluteMyJob Andrew Jackson, knows that;

“Veterans possess the knowledge, skills and experience to become significant assets to public and private sector organisations. These courses are designed to encourage those with the relevant skills to gain a highly relevant qualification at the start of their journey into new careers in cybersecurity".

Our partnership with IBM and SaluteMyJob develops cyber and digital skills and provides the knowledge that creates opportunities for immediate employment. Our ambition is to encourage individual responsibility and build confidence for all the veterans we support, to embed a mind-set of lifelong learning.

Call for '1% Open Platform Challenge Fund’ to support innovative Health IT

Call for '1% Open Platform Challenge Fund’ to support innovative Health IT

A guest blog written by Phil Barrett, Director & Programme Manager, Ripple Foundation in response to the Corsham Institute Digital Health and Care Thought Leadership Event’.

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I’ve worked in Health IT for over 5 years now and it feels like a system on autopilot. Decision makers invest in systems that are widely recognised as lacking usability with limited or no communication to other clinical systems leading to systems that are failing patients and yet we continue with no options for change. Compounding the issue further is that the public sector in the UK desperately needs to become sustainable, yet millions of pounds are committed to the same large vendors that provide solutions that are often inadequate.

When we think of the NHS in the UK we need to appreciate that it is one brand made up of 1000s of separate organisations, that all make their own independent decisions and this has accelerated a system that lacks interoperability and has led to frustrations for clinicians and patients.  

We all recognise the importance of innovation across all sectors of society, but yet in Health IT there feels to be limited choice. I’ve met with countless SMEs over the years with great ideas and great innovation, but common themes continue to come up, such as:

  • the barriers of entry are too high
  • the market feels sewn up with the incumbent suppliers
  • who do I speak to, to make people aware?
  • how can we get a foot in the door to show ideas working in the real world?

We need to think differently about technology in the public sector, we need to take back control. That is why in 2016, Dr Tony Shannon, Dylan Roberts and I established the not for profit, Ripple Foundation. The Foundation supports the adoption of an open health and care platform.  Open digital platforms present a real opportunity to stimulate innovation, providing new ways of working that will create a digital health and care marketplace, based around services and away from proprietary, locked in solutions.

I believe we need to work and think differently.  Decision makers do have a choice and they can choose another way:

  • they can collaborate
  • they can act and work as a joined-up system instead of just for their own organisation
  • they can have more confidence and demonstrate leadership with innovative technology, looking at opportunities to pool technical and clinical knowledge as well as funds and tap into a more competitive services market
  • they can ask the marketplace to solve some of the gaps and ensure that the code that is then developed is shared on a recognised open source licence.

Ripple Foundation has and continues to make significant efforts in helping and supporting organisations and people to think differently.  As part of the work we’ve been appealing along with Handi Health, Synapta and many more, for an Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund that we have called the #1percentfund.  Diverting 1% of available Healthcare IT funds to an open digital challenge fund we believe could improve the care of 99% of the population, by stimulating and supporting both the creation and adoption of an open digital ecosystem internationally.

We hope this Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund could help any interested clinical and technical leaders to implement a different approach to the issues we are facing. In England that 1% would equate to £40 million. Can you imagine what such funds could achieve if well spent?

We’ve had over 45 expressions of interest from healthcare organisations and SMEs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland that want to help stimulate this marketplace and help transform Healthcare IT, with reusable modules, infrastructural components and solutions. The appetite for change is growing and we are now seeking, through a more joined up approach, national organisations to recognise the clear benefit of this initiative and release the necessary funds to enable this needed change.  

To find out more about the 1% Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund please go to our website and show your support by spreading the word.



  1. Ripple Foundation is a community interest company that is supporting the adoption of an open health and care platform.  It is a clinically led team that is working with communities to support an integrated digital care platform for today and the future, that is open source and underpinned by an open architecture that can be used worldwide.
  2. Ripple Foundation is supporting and promoting the #1percent Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund that is hoped will stimulate and support both the creation and adoption of an open digital ecosystem for the nation.

Delivering digital health and care

Delivering digital health and care

Blog by Suzannah Kinsella, Corsham Institute Associate

The Corsham Institute Digital Health and Care Thought Leadership Event brought together digital leaders and stakeholders from across the Bath & North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP).  Organisations included local authorities, hospital trusts, mental health trusts, CCGs and other health providers, as well as NHS England and NHS Digital.

The event’s objective was to explore ‘how can we collectively exploit technology and digital ways of working to transform the way in which we deliver health and care across our STP footprint?’

An urgent priority for the BSW STP is to combine their three Local Digital Roadmaps (LDR), identifying what is best done at a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level versus an STP level. To do this, participants used the day to discuss four themes, identified as priorities by the digital leaders in BSW:  integration and interoperability; mobile working and infrastructure; population health and data analytics; citizen engagement and consent.

Throughout the event, subject matter experts from the fields of cyber security, citizen engagement and health data management gave 20 minute, TedX style talks to stimulate thinking on how these priorities could be realised.

The day was designed to deliver a set of recommendations to the STP Leadership Group that the digital leaders could feel empowered to focus on and deliver. These are some of the recommendations taken forward:

  • Greater integration and interoperability will lead, among other things, to the long desired single care record across health and social care. To help achieve this, participants wanted to ensure that a single, unified STP Information Governance strategy and sharing policy is developed.

  • Effective mobile working and infrastructure means that health practitioners have fast access to the information they need, where they need it, be it on the ward, in the community or elsewhere. Working together to secure funding for proof of concepts will help to achieve small scale quick wins that could help STP organisations to work together.

  • Population health and data analytics have the power to revolutionise how a population’s health needs and effective care are identified. Diabetes was proposed as a common priority for the BSW STP that could jump start joined up working.

  • Involving citizens in how digital tools are introduced and used will help ensure digitisation has popular support and understanding. Participants wanted to use the disparity between public expectation and reality to generate an appetite for change, such as surprise that “the hospital can’t see my GP data?!”

To support these recommendations, participants highlighted several enabling factors. The two most often raised included: greater clinician involvement to guide on the information their clinical colleagues want. The other was how to work with traditional funding methods, (notably capital vs operational expenditure), in a world where we are shifting from buying ‘stuff’ such as servers to buying services, such as cloud subscriptions.

The STP leadership group came together earlier this month (July 2017) and endorsed many of the recommendations mentioned here and in the main report, and these will be progressed through the STP’s digital workstreams in the coming months.

The citizen is at the centre of all of Ci’s work, and digital technologies and the use of data will radically shape the future of health care. Ci was delighted to play its part in enabling these vital discussions to ensure that trust, security and above all the patient are at the heart of the planned transformations.

Social Media’s monopoly on public life

Social Media’s monopoly on public life

From its chatroom roots as a quaint virtual hangout, social media now dominates public life having morphed into a news-distributing, opinion-shaping, life-altering beast used by 37% of the world’s population. Now the go-to platform for essential government communications, emergency information, marketing and persuasion content, social also hosts a dark side of propaganda, fake news, and untraceable ad buys designed to manipulate public opinion. For large organisations, school fundraising lemonade stands, and Islamic State alike, the primary platform for audience access is social.

 ‘Social media now has a monopoly on public life.’ – Dr Charles Kriel

Corsham Institute joined Digital Leaders Week to showcase, share and inspire the best in digital transformation, gathering three digital leaders — the Digital Director of Tate, a podcast startup founder, and Ci’s Director of Digital Creativity — at UKIE to discuss the current landscape, showcase their work in the field, and point the way toward the future.

Tate Digital Director Ros Lawler runs an ambitious programme stretching from social campaigns to experiments with 360° video, publicity management, and online art and activism workshops. Lawler framed her talk around the need for meaningful measurement and a desire to deliver the Tate platform to its audience.

‘4 million people on Twitter? What does that mean?’ Lawler asked. ‘I’ve liked 10 things already this morning. Probably can’t tell you what they were. What does that “like” mean?’

‘If somebody watches two seconds of one of our videos, is it meaningful? I think the word meaningful is really important here.’

Lawler also spoke about Tate’s 360° video campaign for the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition, garnering more views than Top Gear, and went on to hint at Tate’s digital future in China.

Matt Hall is founder of podcast startup Anmama after a career that included roles as Executive Producer at Guardian News and Media, and Head of BBC Radio Production for Somethin’ Else. Hall addressed the strengths and pitfalls of using social to reach new audiences.

‘Multimedia is great — it makes your audience really engaged. The problem is that it’s not searchable,’ Hall said. ‘If your podcast is thirty minutes that’s around 5,500 words. If that was an article that Google could look at, it would contain an awful lot of information. You put your podcast up and, “Bye! See ya! It’s gone.” Social media is a good way to tell your audience what’s in your multimedia.’

Matt went on to speak about the power of trusted advisors, mailing lists, and the thrill of finding his podcast Remainiacs sat between Ru Paul and Desert Island Discs in the charts.

As Ci’s Director of Digital Creativity, I spoke about the darker side of social, from hidden ad buys to the manipulation of elections, joking ‘My colleagues brought the love, so I’m here to bring the hate.’

‘Social media now owns a monopoly on public life,’ I said. ‘And 75% of it is dominated by bots.’

I explained how Facebook ‘works’ in the context of behavioural economics, articulating how addictive mechanics shape the news users consume via Facebook and Twitter, quoting Marshall Macluan‘s dictum that ‘the medium is the message’. I also pointed out how these compulsion mechanics shape the message of online news, impacting public life and the way communities conduct conversations.

I proposed that sensationalist news is more shareable than ‘real’ news, discussed fake news and computational propaganda, and explained Cambridge Analytica’s work on the US presidential election.

From charity campaigns through the Arab Spring to social’s role in the US presidential elections, this decade will be remembered as the period when social media began to dominate the delivery of news and information, and became the conduit through which communities conducted public life. In this new social media reality of contemporary culture, it’s all the more important for news and civil society organisations like Tate, Anmama and Ci to pioneer new practices and critical approaches to navigate the ever-shifting social sands.

Note: This blog post by Dr Charles Kriel, Ci's Director of Digital Creativity, was originally published 10th July 2017 on Digital Leaders.

Social Media for Social Good

Social Media for Social Good

The Friday of Digital Leaders Week (June 23rd), saw Corsham Institute’s ‘Social Media for Social Good’ event, hosted at Ukie, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, in Central London.

Our panel consisted of a disparate and fascinating mix of social media experts, Ros Lawler, Digital Director at Tate, Matt Hall, Anmama Founder and podcast producer and Dr Charles Kriel, Ci’s Director of Digital Creativity.

The theme of the event included how the latest social media micro-targeting techniques sway communities, how they can deliver fresh takes on culture and how creating the right creative media content can increase social sharing and impact.

Social media is increasingly changing social interaction and recently there has been a polarisation of attitudes to social media; from the positive impacts of connecting many types of communities and increasing the reach of communications, to the negatives of fake news and algorithm manipulation. Therefore, it is vital that there is an increased level of debate over how social media can be used for social good.

Each panellist presented a short summary of their work, with their thoughts on where the world of social media is heading. We include them all here as separate podcasts, which are embedded from our Sound Cloud page.

If you want to add to the debate, then please do get in touch. Email us at, or tweet us @Corsham_Inst. 

Cyber Security Podcast for Digital Leaders Week

Cyber Security Podcast for Digital Leaders Week

This podcast, our second for Digital Leaders Week, is with Professor Richard Benham, the current Digital Leaders South West Champion and the first formal Professor of Cyber Security Management. He discusses a whole range of Cyber Security issues, the benefits of GDPR, and steps that both businesses and the Government need to take.

Richard is pictured with one of his 'Cyber Citizens', soon to be appearing in schools and businesses all around the country to raise awareness around Cyber Security.

For more information about #DLWeek2017, which runs from June 19th-23rd across the UK, visit:

The reality of Virtual Reality

The reality of Virtual Reality

Blog by Nik Hunt, Corsham Institute’s Project Co-ordinator, following some experiences with the Ci team, of a number of current uses of virtual technology…

There are many interesting ways that visual augmentation technology is currently being used, mainly in the leisure and entertainment sectors.

In 5D cinema, 3D glasses are worn and you sit on mechanical chairs. As the film starts, the chairs move and things from the screen seem to come towards you, while at the same time water gets sprayed at you and the back of your legs are touched from beneath the chairs to synchronise with elements of the film. The films are short, and the technology is aging, but the effect of more than one sense being affected has exciting potential applications. In an educational setting, it could be used to experience what it is like to blast off in a space rocket, how it felt to be in a wartime bunker, or maybe as an inclusive way of showing how it feels to ride a horse.

Urban Golf is golf played in an augmented reality cave. The technology is simple, a projector projecting the image of the golf course and a ball with sensor stickers on it that can detect the acceleration and direction of the ball which is then added onto the play screen, so that it appears that the ball carries on into the screen. There is only one screen used, as three screens, (as we have in the Ci CaVE), require projectors in the middle of the ceiling that would provide a risk when swinging a golf club! The possible educational applications of this technology could be as a sports science aid – combined with a video, it could help students or athletes to evaluate and improve their techniques, not only in golf, but in many ball sports.

Virtual Reality Exhibitions are becoming more commonly used. They consist of a virtual reality headset, headphones and, if they are in a walk-around environment, a backpack that contains a processor and battery. This technology has many promising uses. As it is, it could be used for exhibitions around the world without the artefacts being moved. It could be used to explore any situation that is not easily accessible, you could, for instance, experience what it’s like to be in a submarine. What is most intriguing is the use of physical objects within the space that feel like the objects visible in the VR. It could have uses in education for sensory impairment or as a more interactive experience with different textures to touch, or even science experiments out of the lab.

We have the hardware at Ci for developers to work on and test software for these educational and research purposes. If you have any ideas, contact us at or arrange to come and experience our CaVE!

Civic Engagement through Digital Activity

Civic Engagement through Digital Activity

Blog by Martin Head, Corsham Institute’s Director of Communities...

Ci's Communities Programme is developing a range of projects that are finding ways to engage people more in civic society and local democracy, as part of our overall mission to promote a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society.

As part of our Digital Corsham initiative with our online digital tv platform Corsham TV and our partner community radio station KIK Radio, we cover local and national elections from a local standpoint, as well as regularly holding our MPs and Councillors to account in detailed interviews, addressing local concerns. The resulting engagement is measurable and has real impact.

During the 2015 General Election campaign, we produced video clips of the local hustings event, which resulted in over 1,500 views compared to around 125 people who attended the evening. Over 10 times the engagement in the debate, through digital activity.

Our production partnership with local BBC Radio to deliver an EU Referendum debate attracted over 900 local video views and one of a very few community media co-productions with the BBC nationally.

Coverage of the May 2017 local elections had every candidate in four wards offered a video statement and in a typically low turn-out election over 750 people viewed the results.

We also audio live-stream local Council meetings and the Unitary Authority Area Boards and reach over 500 people a week locally with topical podcasts. For the General Election this year, each candidate in our local constituency has recorded a video message and we’ll be at the overnight count to cover the results and be the first community media to hear from the new MP, whoever they may be!

All the above examples have impact and the potential to re-define the way local communities engage with their politicians and councils and there is an increasing role for community media to serve their communities by shining a light onto the democratic process.

However, the long-term impact of greater local digital engagement in the democratic process is still to be quantified. After the 10-fold level of digital engagement that we saw during our coverage of the General Election in 2015, there is a clear research opportunity to examine connections between levels of engagement and voter turnout.

Digital media can lead to greater engagement and participation in the local democratic process and part of Ci’s ongoing work is to develop examples and partnerships to prove the power of digital community media to engage citizens more widely.