Birmingham Communities Building Capacity

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Heike Schuster-James, 0044 121 6758887, Chris Price, 0044 121 303 8779, Digital Birmingham, c/o Service Birmingham, 50 Summer Hill Road, Birmingham, B1 3RB, UK

Effective member: 

The Birmingham Living Lab focuses on increasing communities’ capacity for self-help and innovation through the use and development of digital technologies. The Living Lab works closely with Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs) and residents using digital technologies to develop and improve local services and access to information. In doing so it aims to engage local communities in finding innovative, technology driven solutions that will increase and promote social inclusion and stimulate further partnership working. Birmingham City Council is currently involved in a number of projects using the Living Lab methodology as well as looking at opportunities to grow the Living Lab offer.  


There are currently 4 active projects:

1. Communities Building Capacity (CBC) is a national project which started in 2007 under the DC10plus banner (DC10plus are the10 finalists of the UK Digital Challenge competition).The project is developing models of partnership work with voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) using digital technology for social inclusion.  BCC is currently working with 20 residents and 2 VCOs in the deprived Aston area of Birmingham developing citizens’ digital media skills. 

2. Aston Pride ‘Computers in the Home’ initiative – this partnership project has provided to date over 700 homes in a deprived area of Birmingham with a computer, wireless connectivity and support which is to be extended to 2500 homes by 2011.  Research into the impact has shown that on average each computer was used by over 6 extended family members.

3. Digital Environment Home Energy Management System (DEHEMS) is a European FP7 project with 15 partners led by Manchester City Council which started in June 2008.  The

project is developing an intelligent metering system for electric energy, which is accessible through a graphic user interface online.  A testbed of 50 households is being set up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham.  Residents are involved from the outset in defining system requirements and providing feedback and ideas for further development. 

4. UK network of Living Labs – through the DC10plus group the Birmingham Living Lab is part hat exchanges experiences and project ideas nationally.  


– Birmingham City Council – Host Organisation

– The project is led by Digital Birmingham, a Council initiated cross-city partnership of public, private and voluntary and community organisations

– Local Goverment: Bristol City Council, Ealing CVS, Shropshire County Council, Norfolk Council, Sunderland City Council

– Commercial Sector: Service Birmingham and through the Digital Birmingham partnership a range of IT and Telecommunications providers

– Research: University of Birmingham, Lancaster University, P2P – public 2 private consulting