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SPHERE named as finalist in national public engagement award

The SPHERE team at the Engage Competition 2016.

30 November 2016

A research project from the University of Bristol received a finalist award in the national Engage Competition, run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), for their public health and well-being engagement work.

SPHERE (Sensor Platform for HEalthcare in a Residential Environment), an EPSRC-funded engineering research project, is using a unique platform of sensors to quantify health-related behaviours over long periods to diagnose and help manage health and wellbeing conditions. The technology will aid early diagnosis, lifestyle change and the ability of patients to live at home while maintaining their privacy and independence. Future applications include detection of early stage dementia and enabling people to self-manage their health, for instance by predicting when someone might fall.

SPHERE’s public engagement team have worked in partnership with future end users and local citizen scientists who will have the unique experience of living with these new technologies in 100 homes. Innovative and participatory methods of involvement, engagement and co-working enabled the technology and research processes to be acceptable, appropriate and relevant. SPHERE is a high-profile example of engaged responsible engineering research.

Winners of the six competition categories were announced last night [29 November] at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference.

The finalists were selected from over 180 entries and demonstrated a broad range of high-quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences. Finalists’ work ranged from digitally reconstructing city histories to protecting endangered species; from working with older people as researchers to delivering hyper-local science festivals; from young children conducting their own research to influence the United Nations, to using theatre to improve oral health outcomes.

Dr Rachel Gooberman-Hill, Activity Co-Lead, User-Centred Design, said: ‘We are hugely delighted that SPHERE was a finalist in the National Engage Competition. This means a lot to us and shows that members of Bristol's community are working closely with SPHERE to inform a key part of the University's world-leading research.' 

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Bristol, said: ‘Engagement is part of the University’s strategy and the SPHERE project not only reflects that strategy but it also highlights the importance of engagement to staff, students and society. SPHERE is a great example of community collaboration and communication, which the University encourages.’

Paul Manners, Director of the NCCPE, added: ‘The Engage Competition is a highlight of our work at the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. It uncovers amazing people, projects, partners and research. This year did not disappoint. The quality of the applications has been higher than ever, showcasing the very best of engagement practice across all disciplines and participant groups – reaching from the very local to the global.’


Further information

SPHERE (Sensor Platform for HEalthcare in a Residential Environment) is an interdisciplinary research collaboration (IRC) funded by the EPSRC and led by the University of Bristol, together with the universities of Southampton and Reading.

The project, which focuses on developing sensor systems to monitor health and wellbeing in the home, is working in partnership with Bristol City CouncilIBMToshiba and Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC).

About the NCCPE

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement is internationally recognised for its work to support universities to engage meaningfully with the public. The NCCPE is supported by the UK Higher Education Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust, and has been hosted by the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England since it was established in 2008.

About the Engage Competition

The NCCPE first launched the Engage Competition in 2014 to provide a UK-wide opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the effective public engagement with research activity that universities are involved in.

The competition is biannual and running for the second time this year - receiving over 180 entries. There are six categories, each with three finalists. The categories are: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM); Health & Well-being; Engaging With Young People; Working In Partnership; and Individual-led Projects.

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