Mr Adam Edwards
Current Research Projects
Urban Manager for Security, Safety and Crisis Management (URBIS)
Funded by the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme of the Education and Culture DG of the European Commission
- The URBIS project questions the possibilities for ‘urban security management’ given the increasing freedom of movement of people, goods and services across national borders, an increasingly austere economic climate and consequent pressures on governing capacity in European cities. The distinctiveness of the current situation is captured in the idea of ‘acting locally while thinking globally’ about threats to the freedom and security of European citizens. In particular the project explores which public authorities are empowered and legally obliged to manage urban security, what skills and competencies they have to undertake this responsibility and what educational and training provision currently exists in support of their work. On the basis of this review, the project will consider any further need to professionalise this area of work. It will then design and trial a postgraduate-level programme of teaching and learning emphasising a comparative understanding of urban security in Europe and questioning the possibilities for exchanging expertise and experience amongst public authorities.
- Project Partners: Sinergie, Italy; Cardiff University, UK; University of Maribor, Slovenia and the regional government of Izmir, Turkey
- Cardiff University Investigators: Adam Edwards, Gordon Hughes and Nicholas Lord
Understanding the Role of Social Media in the Aftermath of Youth Suicides
Funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme, England
This study will gather evidence need about young people’s use of the internet and how to prevent media encouragement of suicidal behaviour. The research is important as there has been considerable concern about how the use of social media may have contributed to the maintenance of suicide clusters, for example in the case of Bridgend in early 2008. The study will do this by using the Collaborative Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS) to collect and explore social media communication (especially via Twitter and Facebook). It will compare how social media communication is used following suicides and traffic accidents in young people aged 18 or under. In particular attention will be paid to: i) the frequency of such communication; ii) what sentiments are expressed; and iii) any social networks revealed by social media contacts. Deaths of young people in England during the study period will be identified via Child Death Overview Panels and daily news media searches. Increased knowledge and understanding about how social media are used following a young person’s death will be valuable for health, education and social care services. Improvements to the COSMOS platform following the study could be used to identify of the risk of suicide clusters in future. The study will also provide a foundation for the development of interventions to encourage help-seeking in young people via social media. The study will deal with very sensitive issues, so although the social media communication studied will be publicly available, all data will be thoroughly anonymised before any results are presented. Where confidential information needs to be passed to the research team, a secure website will be used. The proposed study builds on a research council-funded project to establish COSMOS. The research team includes expertise in the social context of suicide, computer science and the study of communication, both online and offline.
Investigators: Jonathan Scourfield, Peter Burnap, Adam Edwards, William Housley, Nina Jacob and Matthew Williams
Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows
Funded by ESRC and Google (Google Data Analytics Social Science Research Call)
The aim of the project is to develop a probabilistic model-based methodology and resultant computational tool to inform the social scientific interpretation of the formation and spread of hate speech and antagonistic content in social media networks, as well as its consequences and reactions to it. Project partners include Google.
Investigators: William Housley, Matthew Williams, Adam Edwards, Pete Burnap, Omer Rana, Alex Voss, Rob Procter and Vince Knight
Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modelling
Funded by ESRC /NCRM Methodological Innovation
The key objective of this project is to develop the repurposing of user generated social media data for social research by developing innovative methodological and computational tools for establishing the link between online and offline behaviour. This will entail building statistical models based on social media data that forecast offline social phenomena. Project partners include the Metropolitan Police Service and the Office for National Statistics.
Investigators: Matthew Williams, William Housley, Adam Edwards, Luke Sloan, Pete Burnap, Omer Rana, Alex Voss and Rob Procter
Completed Research Projects
Supporting Empirical Digital Social Research for the Social Sciences with a Virtual Research Environment
Funded by JISC
The Schools of Social Sciences (SOCSI) and Computer Science & Informatics (COMSC) at Cardiff University have, over the past 18 months, established the SOCSI/COMSC research network, an interdisciplinary research group with academic staff from both schools collaborating and sharing best practice in research and teaching. The SOCSI/COMSC research network has already secured a funded ESRC Wales DTC 4 year postgraduate studentship, and an ESRC research grant to develop data harvesting and analysis methods and tools to detect tension and cohesion in online social networks. The ERSC grant has supported the network in developing the Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS), an information collection, archival and analysis engine for harvesting freely available socially significant data from sources such as social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, RSS feeds and Open Data (e.g. crime rates), and analyzing the harvested dataset to detect community tension and cohesion indicators. We propose to enhance COSMOS and engage the wider social scientific research community by extending it to provide an innovative virtual research environment (VRE). Researchers need to be able to use COSMOS data and pose hypothetical “what-if” questions, trying different combinations of social data analysis methods to confirm or refute an informal hypothesis, and then stress testing it further until a coherent and arguable position emerges.
Investigators: Peter Burnap, Adam Edwards, William Housley, Matthew Williams, Omer Rana, Nick Avis
Funded by the ESRC
The SOCSI/COMSC Research Network was established in 2010 and is committed to promoting closer collaboration between computer and social scientists in the context of a key area of innovation in social research. Namely Web 2.0 technology, data representation, data harvesting, data analysis, visual analytics and informatics. These efforts will crystallise around the construction of a suite of digital social scientific methodological tools. The group is also concerned with the application and evaluation of existing analytic resources in relation to social scientific questions and problems as well as work concerned with the theorisation and conceptual framing of the emerging contours of digital society. Our empirical research programme is contextualised in terms of the ‘coming crisis of empirical sociology’ (Savage and Burrows, 2007), which is located in the increasing asymmetry between traditional social scientific methods and the power of transactional data generated through the internet. Our projects move beyond this perceived crisis through ground breaking, revolutionary, interdisciplinary engineering solutions for next generation social scientific research. This work will assist in the practical facilitation of the proposed Cardiff Digital Research Platform (CDRP, subsequently re-named the Collaborative On-line Social Media ObServatory, ‘COSMOS’). With the explosion in social media and the interactive web (Web2.0) the potential for systematic data mining and mixed method analysis in relation to key social science concerns and questions is now possible; the CDRP will provide a means of operationalising a next generation ‘social computational methodological tool kit’. It will also provide a means of augmenting social science research training, building research capacity and shaping the conduct of social inquiry for the 21st century.
Investigators: Matthew Williams, William Housley, Adam Edwards, Malcolm Williams, Omer Rana and Nick Avis
Funded by the ESRC
The explosion of ‘born-digital’ data generated as a by-product of the increasing adoption of social media means that the social sciences are facing a data deluge that promises to revolutionise research, but which the research community is presently not equipped to exploit. While the sheer volume of such data presents challenges for the social sciences, such data is now being routinely analysed by industry for its own purposes. Where, in the past, academic social science was an obligatory point of passage for those wanting to learn about social phenomena, there is now a danger that social scientific research is simply bypassed by powerful actors with access to vast datasets. COSMOS is dedicated to helping social researchers meet this challenge and to re-invigorate their interest and leadership in the development of research methods. The methodology we have developed combines techniques that make use of computer-based tools to explore and structure this new form of data.
Investigators: Peter Burnap, William Housley, Matthew Williams, Omer Rana, Adam Edwards, Nick Avis & Rob Proctor
Evaluation of the Office for Night-Time Economy Co-ordination in Cardiff
Funded by Safer Capital (Cardiff Community Safety Partnership) and Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice
Investigator: Adam Edwards
Evaluation of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Safer Communities Fund for Youth Crime Prevention
Funded by the Welsh Government’s Community Safety Research Programme
The Safer Communities Fund (SCF), of the Welsh Assembly Government, is the major source of funding dedicated to youth crime prevention work in Wales. The fund is administered through the 22 local Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs). In 2006-2009, a total of 13,473,498, was distributed to CSPs, for projects seeking to reduce youth crime and disorder. The research identified examples of good practice in working with young people to divert them from anti-social behaviour and crime.
Project partners: Cardiff University, Swansea University and ARCS Ltd
Cardiff University Investigators: Adam Edwards and Gordon Hughes
Funded by the Wales Association of Community Safety Officers
This research was funded by the Welsh Association of Community Safety Officers and provides the first all-Wales evaluation of the diverse and changing roles of community safety managers and officers across all twenty two local authorities in Wales. The research methods deployed included a questionnaire survey, textual analysis of key policy documents, in-depth interviews with local lead officers, elected members, and key Home Office and Welsh Assembly Government civil servants. The work of these new experts in supposed 'joined-up', multi-agency community governance is investigated in the context of the changing political and policy context of the Home Office reform programme around crime and disorder reduction and community safety partnerships across England and Wales as well as the particular agenda on community safety associated with the partially devolved powers of the Welsh Assembly Government. The report focuses particularly on the voices and narratives of the increasingly important but often frustrated front-line managers and workers in the local governance of safety and ordering.
Investigators: Adam Edwards and Gordon Hughes
Economic and Social Research Council
The perceived threat of 'transnational organised crime' to Western societies has been of huge interest to politicians, policy-makers and social scientists over the last decade. This project considers the origins of this crime, how it has been defined and measured, and the appropriateness of governments' policy responses. It is argued that while serious harm is often caused by transnational criminal activity - for example, trafficking in human beings - the construction of that criminal activity as an external threat obscures the origins of these crimes in the markets for illicit goods and services within the 'threatened' societies. As such, the research questions the extent to which global crime can be controlled through law enforcement initiatives and alternative policy initiatives are considered. It questions whether transnational organised crime will retain its place on the policy agendas of the United Nations and European Union in the wake of the 'war on terror'.
Investigators: Adam Edwards and Peter Gill