Being synergy-oriented lies at the core of UT – being unique in combinations. UT has acquired a great deal of expertise in various disciplines, but this knowledge needs to be combined in order to be able to truly innovate. To achieve the goals set in Vision2020, it is essential that we improve knowledge exchange across disciplinary borders. Fortunately, we have seen an increasing number of UT initiatives designed to bring together technical and social sciences: DesignLab, ATLAS University College, the Tech4People projects. These initiatives can be an important catalyst for interdisciplinary innovation, but do not immediately result in a continuous knowledge exchange between disciplines. Due to the fact that knowledge becomes obsolete quickly, we know that sharing knowledge by recording it in (online) systems is limited in its effectiveness. Moreover, we often have no idea whether or not the source of such knowledge is trustworthy. Personal contact is essential for knowledge exchange.
Innovative research projects are currently being set up in order to map out the dynamic characteristics of knowledge exchange on the work floor with the aid of sensor technology by an interdisciplinary consortium consisting of Educational Science (OWK; knowledge-sharing expertise), Psychology of Conflict Risk and Safety (PCRV; expertise on resilient groups) and the Database Group (DB; analysis sensor data expertise). The campus will function as a Living Lab in order to use the same technology to study how face-to-face knowledge exchange between disciplines is currently taking place. By using social network analysis techniques, we will then map out how tightly knit the knowledge networks currently are and how the gap between disciplines is bridged. Together with the support services, we will use this knowledge to find out how these processes and outcomes can be facilitated more efficiently. In six months’ time, this should lead to the development of a support tool (e.g. an app) that will support employees in creating new connections.
This is a scientifically challenging project, as it will make use of new technologies to provide insight into processes that would otherwise remain hidden. Data science is currently starting a revolution in the social sciences with respect to the scientific approach. At the same time, it could spark debate in light of the innovative application of track-and-trace data and due to the fact that this type of project could give rise to a lot of privacy-related questions. The results will not only be relevant for UT, but also for society as a whole considering that many knowledge-intensive enterprises deal with similar issues. In order to support this project, we would like to involve UT spin-off companies in the field of sensor technology with which we already have established a good working relationship.
Besides the fact that the project provides insight into the formation of interdisciplinary knowledge exchange, it will also act as an interdisciplinary knowledge exchange. The disciplines mentioned above will only be the starting point for this project; there are ample opportunities to expand this further by involving, for instance, the EEMCS/PS chairs (wireless body sensor networks) and EEMCS/SCS (privacy and security,) as well as Peter-Paul Verbeek’s group (ethical aspects of privacy).