Bringing social media benefits to the developing world

Published: 8 June 2010

A project aimed at bringing the benefits of social media sharing systems to communities in the developing world has received £449,681 from the EPSRC.

A project aimed at bringing the benefits of social media sharing systems to communities in the developing world has received £449,681 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The 18-month project is being led by Professor Mounia Lalmas of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Prof Matt Jones of the University of Swansea’s Future Interaction Technology Lab, Prof David Frohlich of the University of Surrey’s Digital World Research Centre, and Prof Gary Marsden of the University of Cape Town.

The team has also partnered with TranScape, an organisation in the rural Eastern Cape Nggeleni District, South Africa which helps communities tackle health, social, educational and economic needs.

The project will involve researching how such media sharing systems should be designed and delivered for the benefit of rural and developing communities.

Prof Lalmas said: “With our research we hope to help people in the developing world as well as marginalised communities in countries like the UK.

“Together with TranScape, we will build on an existing wireless network to establish digital media libraries to connect multiple locations across five villages on the Wild Coast of South Africa.

“We will then use this infrastructure to examine the interplay of mobile phones, pico-projectors, situated displays, word-of-mouth storytelling and paper-based artefacts, to create and exchange multimedia content for education, health, agriculture, local social welfare and community decision-making.

“We aim, then, to provide a practical way for many others to put our research results into immediate action.

“By directing the collaboration of interdisciplinary experts towards the particular technological challenges of rural communities this project can dramatically re-shape the ways we conceptualise the Internet in community information sharing; how the rural poor in developing regions experience media-centric computing; and methods to localise information and computer technology design and development in marginalised communities.”

The project will deliver a well-documented toolkit to allow organisations like TranScape to establish community media-sharing infrastructures. The toolkit will also be highly applicable elsewhere in the world.

For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email

Notes to Editors:
University of Glasgow, Computing Science
Swansea University’s Future Interaction Technology Lab
University of Surrey’s Digital World Research Centre


First published: 8 June 2010

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