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Simplifying and demystifying personal data

Simplifying and demystifying personal data

As with much in the debate about data and tech, losing the jargon, demystifying the regulations and ultimately keeping things simple when it comes to personal data and people’s rights, is always going to be a challenge

But that was the clear call from a workshop that Corsham Institute hosted, (20 June 2018), focussed on our community engagement and life-long learning project, Your Data, Your Rights.

Local people from across the Corsham area came together to discuss the challenges, knowledge gap, the pros and cons of data sharing, and where the balance should be between raising awareness of the threats and promoting the opportunities.

At Corsham Institute, we are following the 5D project design model of Discover, Define, Design, Deliver and Disseminate, with our initial Discovery phase for this project being a wide ranging online survey with local residents, which was carried out in April 2018. Overall the survey showed that while most people lack essential knowledge about their personal data and how organisations collect and use it, they also care a lot about it, are interested in their data rights, and want more information.

YDYR Group working[1].JPG

With our community-focussed ‘Test and Learn’ approach we are actively engaging with groups of people who responded to the survey in the current Define stage of the project, to go deeper into the challenges, and begin to shape some specific outcomes to take further.

One of the strong emerging themes is that while digital challenges may be new and complex, the answers may well be much older and more traditional. Not relying on technical solutions or new apps, but relying on people and communities to respond by stepping forward to find ways to stay safe online.

YDYR workshop group.JPG

Our workshop participants initiated discussions on a wide variety of related topics, including the adoption of a public health approach to data and data rights, to the development of a community ‘digital spirit’ with an e-version of Neighbourhood Watch schemes, where people would look out for the safety of their neighbours.

Such an approach would require a basic ‘data-pack’ on online safety and rights, to inform the community across its demographics, knowledge levels and the skills-base, with consistent content and simple messaging to cut through the complexities. It could then be used by existing community networks, trusted intermediaries, and cascaded through teams of local digital champions to residents.

The possibility of co-designing such a solution is an exciting one, where, after some initial priming of the pump with the tools it needs, a community could take the lead and support itself to become a safer, connected and more cohesive place, where knowledge spreads, the skills needed across people’s lives grow, and the benefits of our digital world are increasingly realised in local ways by local people.

This vision is one Corsham Institute, working with members of our local community, will develop and test further to find models that can be scaled and replicated in other areas. When fully developed, this community-led approach could become an important contribution to research in the life-long learning arena, into the skills we all need for the digital age.

170 million years of history!

We love a challenge at Ci and so over the Summer we asked our Creative and Digital Media Apprentices to work on telling the story of Corsham’s history, only covering we suggested, the last 170 million years or so!

The resulting multimedia exhibition; Tablet to Tablet, Corsham’s Journey from the Jurassic to the Digital Age, which our Apprentices have researched, written, designed and curated, is open to the public for a week from October 17th 2016.

Featuring over 100 images in 9 different spaces around the Ci Courtyard campus the exhibition also features artefacts from Corsham’s stone mining heritage and the oldest object that exists in Corsham, an 80,000-year-old bison bone.

Corsham’s history in communications and stone mining made possible its digital infrastructure today and the exhibition tells the story of the ground-breaking Box Tunnel, which in 1841 when it opened was the longest tunnel in the UK, to the growth of the Bath Stone mining industry. From some of the mines, during the first and second World Wars, being used as stores for thousands of tons of munitions, to the development during the Cold War of the highly secret alternative seat of Government under Corsham, with capacity for 4,000 civil servants and the communications infrastructure to resurrect the country after a nuclear attack.

Local artists, art groups and history societies have been involved and many local, personal archives been accessed and filming has been done underground in Corsham’s only working stone mine to bring the story up to date.

‘Tablet to Tablet’, provides a unique glimpse of the heritage that has enabled Corsham to develop into one of the most connected communities in the UK that has laid the foundations for the work of the Corsham Institute.

Our Creative and Digital Media Apprenticeships are a part of Ci’s commitment to Digital Communities. They are a rolling 18-month programme of full time work and training under the auspices of Cirencester College and they work to deliver content for our digital media channels. Future Apprentices will work on extending the scope of this exhibition, as well as digitising it, so it can be made available to the people of Corsham as a community asset.

Corsham TV is 1 year old!

Launched in January 2015, Corsham’s own local digital tv channel Corsham Television is now one year old.

It has already produced over 110 timely and relevant video stories about Corsham and the surrounding area, interviewed 91 people and its videos have been streamed for viewing over 20,000 times, all via the Corsham TV website

Our local digital television channel is modelled on the mainstream TV catch-up services and is available anywhere 24/7, with videos viewed in themed playlists.

Corsham TV is part of the Digital Corsham initiative, set up and funded by the not-for-profit research charity, Corsham Institute.

Corsham TV supports community groups and events, local businesses and local people who have a story to tell, as well as conducting regular interviews with local MPs and both Wiltshire and Town Councillors.

Its first success was its local coverage of the General Election in May 2015 where it covered local hustings, streamed the results live and had the first video interview with the new MP, Michelle Donelan.

Later this year with its local community radio station partner, KIK RADIO, it will begin to stream live Wiltshire Council’s Corsham Area Board and the Corsham Town Council meetings to open them up to a wider digital online audience.

In the run up to Christmas the series of videos ’12 Days of a Corsham Christmas’ attracted record audiences and featured many community groups and local businesses, including the children of Corsham Primary School singing festive songs, with excerpts from their Nativity Plays.

The Chair of Corsham Town Council, Ruth Hopkinson, reflecting on the first year of Corsham TV told us;

“Corsham TV;

- has given the residents of Corsham the opportunity to find out what is actually going on in the town,

- has shown Corsham off to its best advantage,

- is a great showpiece for all that is good in the town;

- has given the opportunity for local people to have their say;

- makes people feel good about the town they live in. It turned negative publicity into positive.”

Corsham TV engages with the community on social media and through regular public events in the town and surrounding areas.

It can be viewed at, on Twitter @CorshamTV and on Facebook/CorshamTelevision.

Corsham TV & the General Election 2015

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With Corsham TV filming overnight at the General Election count for the Chippenham constituency, streaming the result live via the Periscope app and then editing video packages that were ready to view online on Corsham TV by breakfast time, in addition to the Channel’s coverage of the Corsham Hustings and candidate videos, our digital online audience has now increased to over 10 times the number of people who engaged physically at the General Election Hustings themselves.

We’ve now been approached by a University to begin feasibility work on a research programme, so that before the next elections, local or national, we begin to study the relationship between digital engagement and voter turnout, to assess in greater depth the impact within digital communities.

Corsham TV is an initiative delivered by Digital Corsham, part of the Digital Communities  Programme from the Corsham Institute.