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PhD Studentship -AIFS: Privacy and data security in hyperconnected urban communities

Web & Internet Science

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1227820FP

Supervisor:                 Professor Wendy Hall

Co-supervisor             Professor Pauline Leonard

Project description

The Web Science Institute is offering a PhD research project in AI for the Future of Society (AIFS) in collaboration with Fawley Waterside Ltd. 

Project Description

This project aims to explore strategies for addressing privacy, security and data management in a hyperconnected urban community.

In the context of future urban design, citizens will be served by contextually aware services which respond to their needs through monitoring their activity.  Relevant domains include home automation, entertainment, banking, retail logistics, transport, healthcare, security, communications and related utility services.  The collection and integration of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) requires permission to be granted by the citizen.  Emerging work on personal data trusts suggests that one possible approach to security could be for smart contracts to be mediated by a trustee, which could enable the value of personal data to be monetised or exchanged for consumer services or privileges.

The designers of new hyperconnected communities will need to address a range of privacy-, security- and data-related issues, for example:

  • How might the risks and opportunities related to personal data management be addressed?

  • How might citizens be reassured about the privacy and security of their shared data?

  • How might trends in behaviour in relation to data sharing differ across different generations, and how might these impact current commercial models, criminality and social structure?  

You will be supervised by an interdisciplinary academic team and be part of a broader cohort of students investigating the challenges of a future AI society.  Your research will be supported by relevant training, and may include MSc modules according to your individual needs.  You may also have the opportunity to include an internship as part of your studies. 

About the WSI 

The Web Science Institute (WSI) coordinates the University’s globally recognised expertise on the development and social impact of Web, Data Science and AI technologies. The WSI is a founder member of the Web Science Trust Network of Laboratories and hosts the Centre for Doctoral Training in Web Science Innovation. Students will also benefit from opportunities offered by the University’s partnership with the Alan Turing Institute

More information about our AI for the Future of Society (AIFS) activities here.

About Fawley Waterside Ltd (FWL)

FWL is a development consortium looking to build an “Intelligent Merchant Community”, a town-scale ‘smart city' on a site near Southampton.  Partnering with tech companies IBM, Vodafone, Siemens and CISCO, their ambition is to create a city with intelligent technical infrastructure and social ecosystem that takes into account emerging shifts in social and cultural life.

You can find out more about the Fawley Waterside project here.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as Computer Science or Software Engineering. 

Advanced AI experience is not needed but applicants should demonstrate an interest in social applications of AI and/or experience of interdisciplinary research.  

Start Date: September 2020 

Closing date: 31 August 2020

Early application is advised.  Applications will be considered until the position is filled

Funding: A 3.5 year studentship is offered covering UK/EU tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend at the standard EPSRC rate, which is £15,009 for 2019/20.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online selecting “PhD Web Science” as the programme.  Please enter “AI for the Future of Society” under the Topic or Field of Research.

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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