The Policy@Sussex initiative

Policy@Sussex is a bridge between policy relevant social science research across several departments of the University of Sussex and the policy makers, influencers and shapers who act on evidence. A strong interdisciplinary approach and rigorous academic research offers innovative insights on current policy challenges.

Read more about Policy@Sussex and follow us on Twitter: @Policy_Sussex

Posted in About Policy@Sussex

Tools for Local Government Net-Zero Decision Making

There is a legal requirement in the UK to eradicate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change by 2050. While central government provides the national policy framework, local authorities undertake many activities and service provisions. However, the level of ambition and degree of effectiveness in net zero emissions delivery is variable across the UK.

A new policy brief – Tools for Local Government Net-Zero Decision Making – investigates how local authorities currently access energy information, and the kinds of model or decision-support that would be useful as they embark on increasingly challenging forms of localised energy planning.

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Posted in Energy and Environment

Automated job interviews and the implications for young jobseekers

The role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our everyday lives is extensive. It is used in everything and everywhere: from taking an Uber to emailing or managing University coursework. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that AI has infiltrated the world of work, and its hiring processes, as well.

There is a growing demand among employers for video interviewing services offered by digital hiring platforms especially in recruiting young jobseekers. These video interviewing systems often rely on AI-based technologies to schedule, track, conduct and sometimes even assess interviews with job applicants.

A new policy brief from Drs Zahira Jaser, Dimitra Petrakaki, Rachel Starr and Ernesto Oyarbide-Magaña explores these technologies from the perspectives of the ultimate users: young jobseekers. The emergent picture is one of opacity, complexity, and uncertainty.

The report identifies a spectrum of degrees of automation in interview processes, from traditional face-to-face to Asynchronous Video Interviews (AVIs) – where candidates video-record their answers to be assessed at a later time. This spectrum represents a gradual ‘depersonalisation’ of the interview process, which may be increasingly disorientating for jobseekers and have a possible negative impact on their interview performance.

To meet the perceived demands of the AI technology respondents reported adopting progressively unnatural behaviours. The more the interview was automated, the more the candidate described feelings of de-humanisation and simultaneous feelings of empowerment of the AI-based technologies.

Based on these findings, the authors have put forward a series of recommendations for employers, hiring platforms and policymakers. These include:

  • Greater transparency and accountability. Platforms need to ensure that the candidates using the technology understand how AVIs function from the outset.
  • Appropriate Prompt Feedback. Employers (and hiring platforms) should offer structured and constructive feedback to job candidates, which could be oriented towards giving them a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Creating a Culture of Privacy and Informed Data Consent. There is a need to review and clarify the legal framework for recording candidates during job interviews and ensure it keeps pace with public expectations.
  • Create a robust support system for candidates. Careers Services and Public Job Centres should develop a better understanding of the functioning of hiring platforms and develop a series of public awareness campaigns and other information resources for candidates.

The authors conclude that AVIs should not be a candidate’s only interaction with a company. Instead, platforms and employers need to properly balance any use of AI tools with a human approach.

Read the Policy Brief: Automated job interviews and the implications for young jobseekers

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

The role of digital health platforms in re-skilling healthcare professionals in developing countries

Digital health platforms have the potential to establish and develop medical professionalism in developing countries, especially where continuous professional development opportunities are scarce or under-developed.

A new policy brief by Drs Dimitra Petrakaki and Petros Chamakiotis examines how this can be achieved by drawing on a qualitative study of a non-profit platform, MedicineAfrica, that is dedicated to delivering free online health education in post-conflict countries.

Source: MedicineAfrica Archives

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Posted in Society and Education, Technology and Innovation

Political economy insights for science system transformations in sub-Saharan Africa

Science, technology and innovation (STI) systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) play a crucial role in addressing a range of development challenges. However, building and strengthening STI systems in SSA is as much a political and economic challenge as it is technical.

A team of researchers from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Kenya have conducted a political economy analysis of the STI systems in five SSA countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania – and provide recommendations relevant to each national case, especially for each national Science Granting Council.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

New study reveals flaws in UK Coronavirus testing system after comparison with other countries

A new research study helps to explain the inadequate performance of NHS Test and Trace described by Dido Harding at a House of Commons Science & Technology committee evidence session in September, through direct comparison with how similar services are organised in other countries.

Comparing the UK’s Covid testing response to five other nations suggests that a key flaw in the NHS Test and Trace service is the failure to provide medical oversight over access to testing, and not frivolous overuse by members of the public.

The UK is the only country of those studied to both provide tests without first going through healthcare experts and to heavily rely on self-sample collection rather than have experts take swabs for patients, explains a study led by Prof Michael Hopkins in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Enhancing crop-livestock integration for more inclusive development in Rwanda

There is a renewed interest in agricultural intensification and the transformation of the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The government of Rwanda, for example, is promoting intensification as a central strategy to increase incomes and improve food security for smallholder farmers.

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Posted in Energy and Environment

Co-creating Connected and Intelligent Care Homes for People with Dementia

Connected Care aims to address three main challenges that care homes face with regards to people living with dementia

  1. Care homes are increasingly challenged by a rising number of people living with dementia and a simultaneous demand to improve quality of care amidst limited funding and staff shortages.
  2. Although innovation is associated with better quality of care, there is limited research looking into the ways in which digital technology, including the Internet of Things and sensors, could help care homes deliver better care for people with dementia.
  3. Scholarly research has highlighted that top-down implementations of technology fail to deliver their potential benefits when there is limited user buy-in. In the context of care homes, care workers, residents and their families are often under-represented in technological developments.
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Posted in Technology and Innovation, Uncategorized

Governance of Data Value

By Maria Savona
Professor of Innovation and Evolutionary Economics 

At exceptional times of public health emergency such as the present Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan seems to have contained the spread of contagion better than other countries. The country has managed to digitally track individuals with symptoms and their contacts to contain the spread, with a mix of community based app, releasing data on symptoms and positions, and a fast reaction by the digital minister who has coordinated the government’s response. This seems to be an interesting synergy of decentralised and centralised governance of data for a relevant public purpose.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation, Uncategorized

A journey towards a harassment-free workplace

Dr Galina Goncharenko

Lecturer in Accounting (University of Sussex Business School).

On 15 October 2017, an American actress, Alyssa Milano, tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”.

Everyone knows what happened next. The Twitter message went viral and triggered one of the largest contemporary movements against abuse of power, assault and harassment. This social movement is continuous and ongoing, digital and global, uniting and encouraging thousands of women and men to speak out and act against sexual harassment and assault.

The problem of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace is complex and needs to be tackled from many different directions.

Dr Goncharenko commenced a research project in November 2018 that aimed to understand how the #MeToo movement transformed the public perception of accountability for abuse of power in the workplace and caused the development of new social and regulatory mechanisms to hold organisations and individuals to account.

As an output of the project and as part of an ESRC Festival of Social Sciences event on 8 November, Galina has produced a guide, the objective of which is to:

  • discuss various perspectives to halting the abuse of power, sexual assault and harassment,
  • improve accountability for breaches, and
  • empower people with new knowledge, ideas, ways to seek help and support, join campaigns and calls to action.

Read the guide #MeToo: A journey towards a harassment-free workplace

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Posted in Society and Education

No one can put the local energy genie back in the bottle now

By Marie Claire Brisbois

Lecturer in Energy Policy (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit) University of Sussex.

With the development of renewable energy sources, decentralised energy production is becoming more prevalent and its rapid expansion is disrupting politics in the energy sector.

Generated off-grid and produced close to where it will be used – rather than at a large plant elsewhere and sent through the national grid – decentralised energy can include micro-renewables, heating and cooling as well as geothermal, biomass or solar energy. Schemes can serve a single building, a whole community or be built out across an entire city.

As renewable energy communities capture market share, they are disrupting ownership of a sector that has traditionally been controlled by a relatively small number of profit-maximizing firms with increasing political conflict between new entrants and incumbent regime actors.

Dr Marie Claire Brisbois, as part of The Powershifts Project is examining the impact of renewable energy communities – a specific form of decentralised energy – on politics and markets. The first stage of the research used three case studies to understand whether and how political power is shifting and the implications of this change.

The key findings are:

  • Renewable energy communities are beginning to collectively shift political power
  • Renewable energy communities are building technical and political capacity, forming strategic political coalitions, and are increasingly enmeshed with local authorities
  • Where policy and regulatory frameworks are supportive of renewable energy communities, their expansion is leading to controlled growth of distributed electricity generation ownership. Where policy frameworks are unsupportive, this growth is present but ad hoc and often subversive

The expansion of renewable energy communities has implications for the overall fairness, stability and security of power systems.

Dr Brisbois is currently soliciting survey responses for Phase 2 of the Powershifts Project from policymakers and regulators who work on issues related to decentralised energy.

Read the policy brief: The political implications of energy decentralisation

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Posted in Energy and Environment