Alison Simmance- new DE USRG Coordinator
May 18, 2012
by Alison Simmance
I am delighted to be the new Digital Economy USRG Coordinator here at the University of Southampton and to be involved in communicating the Digital Economy’s diverse and excellent research: the novel approach to influence human behaviour through mobile phone and social networking technology; bringing life to events; revolutionizing aspects of the humanities for our students and laying the digital foundation to tackle today’s complex problems such as the supply and demand of energy are excellent examples. But there’s more! Today, I have been seeing the diverse nature of research in the Digital Economy at the Creative Digifest #SxSC.
By way of background, I obtained my MSc here in NOCS many years ago in Marine Science, Policy and Law and I have worked for the UK Government’s marine science unit (Defra ) for over 3 years. Having obtained valuable experience in developing policy led marine environmental research, I was eager to develop a greater understanding of the global challenges facing resource management in developing countries. In response, last year I took a career break to work out in Madagascar on socio-economic research in marine resource management. Here, I lived with some of society’s poorest communities and the most diverse and remote islands globally. The global ‘South’ and ‘Digital’ divide was very evident!
Now, looking back, I struggle to believe the many amazing things I saw and experienced during my time in Madagascar: a Madagascar paradise-flycatcher ensconced in her nest deep in the mangroves; a trade between fisherman and collector of ornate spiny lobster, a creature of unimaginable beauty; the diverse seascapes and landscapes throughout Madagascar; the passive and warm nature of the Malagasy people; and the challenging primitive lifestyle with little access to clean drinking water, radios, telephones and the internet!. Through these experiences as well as time spent working with children in the slums of Nakuru, Kenya, I have come to understand the impact that the global economic crisis, fuel crisis, agricultural crisis and digital divide can have in influencing human progress!
In terms of the Digital Economy, I think the message is clear- advanced connectivity will deliver major economic benefits everywhere. As stated by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré “Broadband is no longer a luxury…it is a core infrastructure of the modern economy. Those who have it will prosper, those who don’t will fall further behind.”
In my next blog I will speak about my excitement to work here in the University’s Multidisciplinary research team. I will provide my perspective on how I see the Digital Economy USRG and my other USRGs (Sustainability Science, Complexity in Real World Contexts, Ageing and Lifelong Health, Work Futures Research Centre) contributing to global dilemmas (international development, diversifying economies, creating wealth and pulling people out of poverty) and the impact of the research carried out in the Digital Economy here in the University of Southampton.
I look forward to meeting you all soon,