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

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

A Guide to Implementing the Law on Anti-social Behaviour

By Dr Stavros Demetriou
Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives a significant magnitude of discretion to local enforcement agents to decide what counts as anti-social behaviour and how to implement their powers. The 2014 Act was designed to be flexible and to enable local agents to tackle a range of local issues. However, this flexibility can result in the inconsistent implementation of the law and allow local enforcement agents to use these measures as a means of indirectly criminalising certain kinds of behaviour whilst targeting specific social groups. To prevent this, it is important to ensure that these measures are used appropriately and target only behaviour that really has a negative effect on other people’s quality of life.

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Posted in Equality and Diversity, Society and Education, Uncategorized

If data are the ‘new oil,’ how can their value be shared fairly?

Some reflections on the EC High Level Expert Group Report on the impact of digital transformation on labour markets

Professor Maria Savona
Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex

Digital transformations are creating great opportunities but also challenges for modern labour markets. Supporting and steering transformations while reducing disruption is a pertinent policy challenge. While discussions must address the technological anxiety and declining working conditions associated with advances in AI and automation, they should also consider how digital transformations could reduce unemployment and underemployment, and increase prosperity and inclusion at the European level.

To explore possible solutions to these policy challenges, the European Commission in September 2018 convened an expert group on the impact of the digital transformation on EU labour markets. The group included experts from the public and private sector, alongside a few academics. The HLG convened over five monthly meetings that provided opportunities to cross-fertilise our own expertise. I was able to share the results of our ESRC SDAI project (TEMPIS) on the effects of technological innovation on employment and self-employment in the UK’s local labour markets and discuss our views on making innovation more inclusive. We were asked to think outside the box, providing ground-breaking policy recommendations based on empirical evidence – no mean feat! These have fed into a final report, released on 8 April 2019 and discussed in Brussels at the High-Level Conference on the Future of Work.

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Posted in Equality and Diversity, Technology and Innovation, Uncategorized

Think talking on your hands-free while driving is safe? Think again

The RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign reported that drivers using phones caused 2263 crashes between 2013 and 2017. However, most such campaigns focus on hand-held mobile phone use rather than hands-free. Research carried out by Dr Graham J. Hole (University of Sussex) with Dr Gemma F. Briggs and Dr Jim A. J. Turner (Open University) reveals overwhelming evidence that – contrary to popular assumption – driving while having a phone conversation using hands-free technology is no safer than using a hand-held phone.

Over 80% of studies into phone use have now shown significant performance degradation, with hands-free phone use causing the same dangerously high levels of distraction as hand-held phone use. Drawing from their own research, as well as numerous studies by other academics and public bodies, this policy brief debunks some common misconceptions around the safety of hands-free phone use, and examines some potential solutions for tackling the problem.

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Posted in Society and Education, Technology and Innovation

Evaluating public policies in Africa

In 2014, the African Union adopted the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024). The first 10-year part of the Union’s longer-term Agenda 2063, 2019 marks the strategy’s halfway point, and an opportune time to take stock and evaluate its performance so far. However, the STISA-2024’s original timeline did not incorporate a mid-term evaluation.

Dr Chux Daniels (SPRU) has been working with the African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) and other key stakeholders to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, which will be used to gather and analyse key data from STISA-2024’s first five years of implementation. In this policy brief, Dr Daniels outlines the strategy’s priority areas and objectives, why an M&E framework is necessary, and presents key considerations and recommendations for its development.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation