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Dr. phil. Maria Wolters - Older People as Active Participants in Digital Democracy?

The recently funded DIGITOPIAS project aims to co-create technology that allows people to lead self-determined lives, make in-formed choices, and actively engage in democratic structures. In this paper, we argue that digital participation in democracy should be accessible, that real-world and public spaces should be closely linked with digital participation opportunities, and that forms of digital participation will need to be adapted to the needs of different groups of citizens. Based on data from the SHARE survey of older citizens in Europe, we discuss how older people might benefit from digital democracy, and how we might develop solutions that span digital and analogue worlds to cater for the wide variety in skills, expectations, and experience of older people. 

This talk is based on a position paper for the IFIP Interact Workshop on Digital Democracy, joint work with Prof Susanne Boll, University of Oldenburg and OFFIS, and Hannah Greving, OFFIS. 

Bio: Dr Maria Wolters is Research Group leader for the group SOC (digital participation) at OFFIS, Germany, and Reader (associate professor) in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Her background is in computational linguistics and speech science (PhD, 2000, University of Bonn), she works on human-computer interaction, assistive technology, and eHealth, and she maintains a long-term interest in statistics and mixed methods research. She has published over 90 peer reviewed papers in Human-Computer Interaction, eHealth, and Computational Linguistics. 

Maria is passionate about digital inclusion. Around 10% of the population will be excluded from online-only services due to lack of access to technology, a badly designed user experience, lack of interest, or lack of trust. This results in systemic gaps and biases in data-driven systems to support health and social care. Maria is looking at ways to mitigate this by designing solutions that span digital and physical, online and in person.