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Louise Mullagh

Senior Research Associate - Population and Policy, Research Student

Louise Mullagh

Current Research

My current research interests include design for policy (at global, national and regional scales), including the design methods and approaches used in this realm. I am also currently researching design for recovery and resilience as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular exploring how design interventions have matured throughout the pandemic and what designers and design researchers might learn for the future. 

As a cross-discplinary researcher I also have interests in the impact of technologies, in particular those that are fuelled by big-data on our experiences of place. My PhD research, which is located in design and computing explores how we might bring back into balance understandings of place that are based in big data and situated knowledges. 

I am currently Chair (Research) of the PoGo (Policy and Governance) SIG for the Design Research Society. 

Career Details

Research associate, Living Design - Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. December 2017 - Deceomber 2019 

Thesis Title

Design Principles for More-than-Data Walks 

August 2021


Our understanding and experience of the places we inhabit are being increasingly mediated by technologies, many of which are driven by quantitative, automatically gathered data. The rise of this datafied society is often heralded as a unique opportunity to drive innovation and understand in great depth the complex challenges of our time.  Data are gathered both from ourselves and our mobile devices as we move through places, tracking our movements through transportation systems and watching us at bus stops or on cctv cameras. Sensors in the environment gather data that monitor the environment and IoT devices in our homes constantly gather and send data about how we use them. These types of data can provide us with huge amounts of information once processed and analysed, however this data-driven mediation of our spaces and places is but one way of understanding and experiencing the world in which we live. 

Whilst these types of automatically gathered data enable us to gain valuable insights into our world, the reliance upon outsourcing our senses and collecting data that disappear into the black box of the technological realm are often illegible to many people who do not possess the skills or equipment to engage in these modes of understanding. Valuable, place-based data, in addition to information, knowledge, wisdom and lived-experience offer rich place-based understandings, but these are often latent within place or people and more difficult to access. Therefore, those who have much to contribute to understandings of our world, that are embedded within more situated modes of knowing gained through lived experience and a connection to place are often excluded. 

This research explores the knowledge gap that exists in understanding how these data-driven and situated modes of understanding place might be synthesised and contributes to a growing body of research that explores how we might interrogate the data-driven society through the practice of walking. This nascent approach answers calls for critical approaches to understanding the impact of the datafied society by moving through a place and exploring what data mean in that location.

Through the exploration of practices that are located within the data-driven realm and those that are more situated and embedded in place the novel concept of More-than-Data, emerged, and is defined as “a heuristic guide that encourages and embeds the collection, conceptualisation, interrogation, storage and re-use of data, information, knowledge, wisdom and lived-experience in, from and through place”. 

To explore how More-than-Data can be embedded within a practice a series of five walks were designed and carried out. The insights developed through the walks have been framed within an existing design process, the Double Diamond, and when synthesised with findings from literature and the interviews carried out form the basis for a set of design heuristics.

The two key contributions to knowledge presented in this research are:

  1. the development of More-than-Data, a new approach to exploring and understanding place that synthesises data-driven and situated understandings of place
  2. a set of design principles that can be used by a wide range of people that embed More-than-Data in place

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