DAPTEC – Flat Holm is a 18-month research project that offers a key opportunity to engage the public with innovative, creative developments in the field of STEM in Wales. It is a unique creative data interpretation project – which is applying cutting-edge data science techniques by collecting Flat Holm’s ‘invisible’ ecosystem data and translating it into a physical shape. Data is all around us and the data physicalisation can offer potential perceptual, cognitive, and communicative value that neither paper nor computer displays may be able to offer. By bringing together academic, industry and community partners the DAPTEC framework will be developed to support the design and development of the data physicalisation.

To determine proof of concept for the framework, the DAPTEC – Flat Holm Project will develop a data physicalisation artefact that communicates environmental data connecting the city of Cardiff and Flat Holm Island situated 7.6 miles from the Cardiff coast. The artefact which will be a large scale (circa 2 meter) working prototype and will be exhibited in Cardiff Bay. It is perceived that this prototype will serve as a kind of navigation aid for Cardiff citizens, alerting them to issues relating to air quality, water quality and wildlife activity on Flat Holm Island.

However, the focus of the project is on the development of the DAPTEC framework which will be established and refined through the process of design and manufacturing of this prototype. In more detail, the framework will determine how the data streams from relevant sources will be analysed and combined through computation and creative practices to communicate clear narratives relating to business needs particularly around environmental and human wellbeing.

The project partnership comprises Cardiff Met University, Yard, Cardiff City Council (CCC), and Natural Resource Wales (NRW) will be involved in an advisory capacity on the project. The medium-term vision (beyond the scope of this initial funded activity) is that the framework and its application could be extended further throughout public and private sectors. It is envisioned that a follow-on full-scale project would aim to bring the innovation to the wider city of Cardiff whilst also rolling out the framework across other business opportunities that will be accessed through Yard, CCC, NRW and potentially other organisations and businesses in Wales and the UK.

The data physicalisation prototype structure will be exhibited in Cardiff Bay during October and November 2021. It will be designed to sense when a human is within close proximity and momentarily animate relevant data streams, giving ‘invisible’ environmental data a physical shape affording more meaningful ways for people to assess environmental issues, understand their options, and make more informed decisions around wellbeing. It is envisioned that the prototype will become a talking point, gathering place and information portal in a format unique to Cardiff and its citizens.

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