Not Equal launches funding proposal on social justice in the digital economy

Data justice, the role of trade unions in the gig economy and the responsibility of the tech sector were all discussed at the launch of the Not Equal project at two events in London and Newcastle.

The events brought together Network+ partners and launched Not Equal‘s first call for collaborative research proposals as part of its Open Commissioning Programme.  

Not Equal is looking to fund projects around digital security, algorithmic social justice and fairer futures for business and work.

People from academia, third sector, public sector, and industry came together to watch provocative talks from experts on the social justice dimensions of emerging technology design and the challenges facing us today. 

London Launch event

The keynote speaker Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne and Central Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation warned of the dangers of technology working in a bubble.

“In the absence of the ordinary people, we have tech talking with tech;” she said when discussing the annual Web Summit held last year in Dublin. “We need to empower citizens and consumers. We need to invest in people, places and infrastructure.”


Following on from the keynote there was a panel discussion including Kutoma Wakunuma  – Senior Lecturer and Researcher at De Montfort University, Rachel Franklin, Professor of Geographical Analysis at Newcastle University; Jamie Woodcock, Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and Froi Legaspi, Community Organiser for Citizens UK.

Newcastle Launch event

Lina Dencik, co-founder of the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University opened the launch with her keynote on advancing social justice in an age of datafication.

“Understanding people through mass use of data is seen across our lives now, from crossings borders to our work. These are very important aspects of our lives;” she explained; “The idea of an algorithmic identity is a reductive view of who we are.”


The Newcastle panel discussion included Bettina Nissen, Interaction Design Lecturer at the Edinburgh University; Matt Stokes, Senior Researcher at NESTA and Karen Wood, Parker Trust.

The Challenge areas

At the two launch events the Co-Investigators of Not Equal did lightning talks on three challenge areas

  • Algorithmic Social Justice – Professor Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University,
  • Digital Security for All – Lizzie Coles-Kemp, Professor in Information Security at Royal Holloway University
  • Fairer Futures for Business and Workforces – Ann Light, Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex

This was followed by a briefing session on Not Equal’s commissioning process.

During the days attendees were given the opportunity to come up with challenges to propose to the network, and generate ideas for expressions of interest for the call for proposals.


Among attendance were:

Changing Lives, Parker Trust/Pallion Action Trust, The Forge, NESTA, Jumping Rivers, Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council, Vonne, Consult and Design, West End Trust, Traidcraft, VODA, Meadow Well Connected, Fulfilling Lives, Open Rights Group, Proboscis, New Economic Foundation, National Ugly Mugs, Citizens UK, Digital Catapult, and Geekyoto.