Building on the knowledge gained from our previous trials, we are planning a new iteration of the OTIH system with a different collaborative activity. This has been inspired by exciting discussions with a group of people aiming to improve public engagement with the Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge. We were introduced to this group through Yvonne by our friends at Stride Design. This stage of OTIH will be developed with the help of Dr. Estefanía Martín and Dr. Pablo A. Haya, who are visiting the Pervasive Interaction Lab until the end of May.
Below is our initial proposal, outlining the aims for the project:
The Discovery Project, Mill Road Cemetery
Yvonne Rogers, Anne Adams, Tim Coughlan, Trevor Collins, Janet Van der Linden, Pablo Haya and Estafania Martin. The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
The Discovery project will enable community groups in Cambridge to enjoy and learn more about the monuments, wildlife and local history in the historical Mill Road cemetery site. We will design a novel collaborative experience that will allow school children, wildlife and local history groups to discover and make connections, between what they observe in the physical space and what they can find out in online libraries, websites and books.
People working in pairs will be provided with a mobile phone to access the Discovery website and will be instructed to explore part of the cemetery, looking for specific things related to a theme (e.g. people who have died under the age of 50, early signs of spring, famous people). On finding something of interest, they will take a photo, label it and add comments, which can then be shared with others from their group who are located indoors. They will also be able to communicate with the indoor group, who have access to a state of the art multi-touch tabletop, as well as tablet and laptop computers, that they can use to access other online resources.
A map of the cemetery will be presented on the tabletop showing the location and details of the head stones. It will also track and display where the groups are in the cemetery at a given time. The groups out there can also access this information on their mobile phones, as well as the related photos and their notes. Together the ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ groups will work together to create a rich, multi-layered and interconnected history of the site for a particular theme.
Benefits: The trustees, the council and the Friends will benefit by having an outreach project showing how novel affordable technologies can be used to augment their existing programme of outreach activities, by encouraging interested parties and school children to take a deeper interest in the cemetery and what is behind ‘the scenes’. The outcome will be an evolving digital montage and repository of what is observed and recorded in the cemetery. The project will also provide a deeper network of information about the cemetery, with relevant information identified for further distribution to the public about the cemetery (e.g. are there any notably interesting people within this cemetery, are there particularly interesting or unusual signs of wildlife at this location). The Open University will benefit by being able to show how their research can be deployed and evaluated in the wild, and increase wider public engagement in learning.
Security, Ethics and Privacy: Privacy and security experts working with project leaders will ensure that the university and national ethical procedures are administered and followed. This will include following the UK data protection legislation and adhering to guidance from EU privacy protection legislation. Those participating in the project at Mill Road Cemetery will be guided through relevant health and safety issues, their consent to participate will be obtained, and all data collected will be anonymised with confidentiality issues considered throughout.
To start the project off, we will run initial trials at our own St Michaels’ Church at the Open University. We held a great meeting and demonstration last week, here are some photos: