‘Tracking People’:controversies and challenges

Award Number
Research Grant
Status / Stage
30 September 2016 -
31 March 2019
Duration (calculated)
02 years 06 months
Funding Amount
Funder/Grant study page
Contracted Centre
University of Leeds
Principal Investigator
Anthea Hucklesby
PI Contact
WHO Catergories
Methodologies and approaches for risk reduction research
Tools and methodologies for interventions
Disease Type
Dementia (Unspecified)

CPEC Review Info
Reference ID804
ResearcherReside Team


Award NumberAH/N005929/1
Status / StageCompleted
Start Date20160930
End Date20190331
Duration (calculated) 02 years 06 months
Funder/Grant study pageAHRC
Contracted CentreUniversity of Leeds
Funding Amount£35,994.00


The network will foster debate and collaboration between academics, policy makers, designers and practitioners about the ethical, legal, social and technical issues arising from the current and future use of non-removable wearable devices that enable location monitoring or tracking of wearers by a third party (tracking devices). This unique and innovative international cross-disciplinary network will explore the use of tracking devices in a number of domains including their use with offenders, mental health patients, young people in care and dementia patients. In most of these settings the use of tracking devices is controversial and has resulted in significant academic and public debate. Concerns centre on privacy, ethics, data protection, efficiency, effectiveness, the efficacy and suitability of the equipment design, the involvement of the private sector as providers and operators as well as the potential for discriminatory use. Despite high levels of disquiet, governance and regulatory structures lag behind the capabilities and applications of the tracking technologies.
Exploring the use of tracking devices in a variety of settings and across jurisdictions will highlight synergies and discontinuities in the implementation, debates and challenges surrounding its current and future use. The network will result in new empirical, conceptual and theoretical insights into the use of tracking devices creating a greater appreciation of the legal, social, ethical and technical issues arising from their use. It will also facilitate the sharing of technical and methodological knowledge and skills across domains and set out an inter-disciplinary research agenda for the future.
The network will be led by a cross-disciplinary team at the University of Leeds and involved academic and research users primarily from the UK and Europe. The network will comprise: academics and postgraduate and early career researchers from the arts, social and medical sciences, engineering, and product design; policy-makers and practitioners from criminal justice, health, immigration and education from the UK and Europe; voluntary sector organisations; and private companies involved in the design, manufacturing and operation of tracking devices. The network will be unique in bringing together experts from a range of domains and jurisdictions to examine the applications of a single, under-researched technology from multiple disciplinary perspectives. It will lead to new and better shared knowledge, understandings and insights via exposure to the challenges and opportunities faced in each setting.
The network will encourage cross-disciplinary research, build research capacity and seek to contribute to evidence-based policy making. It will strive to influence legal and policy development so that it is able to keep better pace with technological advances. It will seek to inform the technological development of tracking devices so that greater attention is paid to ethical and social concerns in their design. It will also better inform arts and social and medical sciences academics, policy-makers and practitioners about the technical limitations of tracking technologies resulting in a greater understanding of the potential and boundaries of these devices.
The network will develop over a period of 18 months through a series of four events which will culminate in a final conference. A series of briefing papers will be published as well as an edited collection, articles placed in academic and practitioner journals and papers delivered at conferences. The network will reach a wide audience beyond event participants via a bespoke website, blogs and Twitter. The intention is for the network to continue after the funding has ceased and for members to collaborate on future research projects and events.