CORDIS - EU research results

Open Design of Trusted Things

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OpenDoTT (Open Design of Trusted Things)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-12-31

OpenDoTT is a doctoral training programme that will provide leadership in designing security, privacy and trust into the Internet of Things (IoT). It brings together design research from the University of Dundee, open internet advocacy from Mozilla and specific expertise including open hardware, design, security and law from a network of eight international partners. Together, we aim to develop future leaders who will have the capability to meet challenges and opportunities presented by IoT. The programme places Mozilla's Health of the Internet agenda at the heart of a training programme that advocates for trust, openness, privacy, decentralization, inclusion and digital literacy.

We are still in the early stages of IoT adoption and the future social, technical and legal landscapes around it remain unclear. If the forecast benefits are to be realised, it is important that they are realised in a way that benefits everybody. Mozilla are better placed than anybody to see this: as a not-for-profit organisation, Mozilla supports technologies, products, leaders and citizens across the globe to make the internet healthier: that means easier to access, safer to use, and more empowering for everyone. To continue to protect the internet and achieve the economic and societal benefits of an increasingly connected world, there are significant pressing concerns that must be addressed.

This doctoral training programme aims to address the following objectives in developing leadership for designing for trust in the IoT.

Objective 1: Train ESRs with the capabilities and competences to understand and design for the complex human relationships between IoT technologies and society.

To understand the complex risks and societal factors involved, future IoT leaders will need to both survey the current landscape and envision and communicate alternate futures. Design research training will enable ESRs to explore the world through fieldwork methods, co-design new alternatives and prototype and evaluate these new ideas to explore their implications. Together, these skills will allow ESRs to respond to the technical and societal vulnerabilities that IoT poses for everyday users and consumers.

Objective 2: Create a cohort of new leaders who can both practice and advocate for a trusted and healthy IoT.

Future IoT leaders must be capable of not just practicing trusted and healthy approaches to technology themselves, but also advocating for others to adopt these practices. The ESRs will be multi-skilled, operating as designers, technologists and communicators, who will work across multiple communities to document and shape emerging best practices. This means ensuring that technologies are designed with trust, openness, privacy, decentralization, inclusion and digital literacy at their heart.

Objective 3: Ensure that ESRs can interpret and communicate policy in order to design for trusted IoT.

Emerging EU policies around the Digital Single Market and GDPR all necessitate a significant change in the ways we approach the design of IoT products. IoT operates at many different scales, in terms of scope and lifecycle duration,28 making it challenging to understand how policies should be implemented. This includes aspects of sustainability, accountability, transparency, privacy by design, privacy by default, assurance, and need for separation between security and safety.

Research progress to date has primarily been on WP1 (Design Research). ESRs began in July 2019 (M7) and spent their first three months conducting an intensive literature review of their individual topics. The ESR projects specified in the Grant Agreement were intentionally broad (e.g. Smart Homes), and the objective of this exercise was to hone in on a specific aspect of this topic that would form the basis of a PhD project. This meant gaining a broad overview of the topic to understand current challenges and opportunities, then developing an initial set of research questions for the PhD.

This fed into the first major consortium meeting, held in September 2019 (M9), during which ESRs had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their entire supervisory team for the first time. Each of the ESRs presented their work to date, receiving feedback from a wide range of consortium members beyond their own supervisory team.

Having completed their first tranche of training (see below), all ESRs are now in the stage of planning their first significant piece of participatory research. The objective of these studies is to understand current practices around IoT in each ESR’s topic area, through ethnographic and participatory fieldwork, combined with co-design and experience prototyping activities to identify ways that IoT could work in more trustworthy ways in the future. All ESRs are currently applying for ethical approval in order to conduct work with human participants. This work is expected to be completed by June 2020 (M18), when WP1 deliverables are due.


Alongside their research, training through WP4 (Research Skills) has aimed to develop core research skills. The first significant piece of bespoke training was delivered in November 2019 (M11). STBY and Quicksand delivered five days of training around Design Research methods, during which ESRs were introduced to a range of new methods and had the opportunity to test these with volunteer undergraduate students from the University of Dundee. The work done during this week is intended to inform the basis for ESRs’ first study.

ESRs have also undertaken a variety of short courses provided by University of Dundee through their Organisational & Professional Development (OPD) programme. These have so far included training around research integrity and bias, writing and communication skills, and will continue to be taken across their year at University of Dundee.

All five ESRs attended MozFest 2019 in London in October 2019, where they received induction into a wider programme of Mozilla Fellows, of whom they are considered a part. This means that they are eligible for additional training made available to Mozilla Fellows, particularly focused on advocacy and campaigning.
The expected results of the project are an in-depth understanding of design research, open technologies and policy as they apply to IoT in wearable technologies, smart homes, communities and neighbourhoods, smart cities, and the requirements for a trustmark for IoT cutting across these scales. These will be represented through a portfolio of design materials, prototypes and academic writing appropriate for submission and award of a PhD.

Our expected impacts fall broadly into two categories: impacts on the ESRs' employability and wider impact on training capacity at a European level. The impact on ESRs' employability stems from the delivery of training, networking and career development that will enable them to operate at the intersection of technology, design and society. We anticipate them acting as leaders in emerging areas of trust in the rapidly developing IoT landscape. The wider impacts stem from new collaborations between the academic sector and industry, demonstrating new ways that Mozilla, the industrial beneficiary, might leverage design research and training to achieve its objectives of a healthier internet. The project will build the capacity of the consortium to work together on a global scale to advocate for healthier and more trusted forms of IoT.
OpenDoTT Logo