Dr Mark Wong is part of a consortium of researchers that has been awarded an EPSRC/ESRC/AHRC grant for a £3.3 million project, 'Protecting Minoritised Ethnic Communities Online'

Congratulations to Dr Mark Wong who is part of a consortium of researchers that has been awarded an EPSRC/ESRC/AHRC grant for a £3.3 million project, 'Protecting Minoritised Ethnic Communities Online', with him as a Co-Investigator and work package lead.

The project addresses harm on Minoritised Ethnic communities from bias in data and AI processes, particularly algorithmic decision-making, and increased digitisation of health, housing, and energy services. It is funded by UKRI through the Strategic Priority Fund, part of the Protecting Citizens Online programme, initiated in response to the 2020 Online Harms White Paper. 

Mark’s work package will deliver a 'Citizen-led Race Equity Lab' (CREL). CREL will bring together Minoritised Ethnic individuals and community organisations, service and platform designers, data and computer scientists, service providers, the voluntary sector, and local and national policymakers through a design process where all have an equal voice to co-create new ideas. The goal is to foster participatory design, development, and assessment of AI and digital systems that are equitable and inclusive. 

These activities will be facilitated through six co-production workshops in Glasgow and Birmingham. This will involve working with partners including the Scottish Government, NHS, Public Health Scotland, and Minoritised Ethnic community organisations to co-design ideas for new technical tools and disseminate good practice in responsible and fair AI (e.g. mitigating inequitable outcomes on ME individuals in automated decision-making in social housing, health, and energy sectors). 

This project plays a critical role in countering discriminatory processes in digitalised services, enabling organisations to address ethnic inequalities in service provision and ensure more equitable service outcomes. The PRIME project will identify the distinctive online harms that ME communities experience because of this digitalisation and draw upon a range of academic expertise to develop innovative and ground-breaking policy guidance and tools for tackling deeply entrenched and persistent racial inequalities in the UK.

Mark said: "I’m very much looking forward to working on this project and leading the establishment of CREL. The intersection of these pressing issues in our society, particularly AI and algorithmic harm on ME communities, is extremely important and yet remains under-researched in the UK context."

"As health, housing, and energy services increasingly go “digital first”, it is crucial to mitigate the harms on ME communities, which are often hidden in the designs of digital platform and algorithmic processes. CREL will lead a significant innovation to promote participatory approaches in the development of AI and data, particularly meaningful co-creation with ME individuals and communities in the design process. In putting ME communities at the centre of the design of AI and digital tools, this project will pave the way to advance innovative practices in responsible and fair AI across sectors."

Professor Simon Joss, Head of Urban Studies, commented: "I very much welcome this important research initiative, which will pave the way towards a better integration of minority voices in the design of digital systems. We look forward to gaining new insights and experience from the interdisciplinary approach and participatory methods at the heart of this project."


First published: 9 February 2022

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