About the conference

This year's Digital Footprints Conference took place at the University of Bristol over two days on the 8th and 9th  May 2024, and was centred around the theme of Social Impact. The conference experienced significant growth this year, with nearly 90 in-person attendees, marking an increase in participation. This year's event also saw a diverse group of international attendees and presenters, enhancing the conference's global reach. The conference organising committee was extended to accommodate this.

The attendees were primarily from academia, constituting 75% of the participants. However, there was a notable increase in representation from other sectors, with 25% of attendees coming from government, industry, and charitable organisations. This diversity enriched the discussions and broadened the perspectives on the topics covered.

The conference featured a variety of formats, including invited talks, flash talks, posters, and a new feature for this year - workshops. Presentations and sessions delved into a wide range of issues, from the ethics of using digital footprint data for research purposes to the application of this data in population health and policy-making.

Highlights

  • In a series of insightful workshops, experts explored the potential of digital footprints and innovative data use in research. Key topics included leveraging digital data for longitudinal population studies, ethical considerations, and improving digital footprints data evidence accessibility for public health.
  • The Early Career Research panel offered an in-depth look at the journey from starting a PhD to transitioning into postdoctoral roles. Panellists shared personal stories both general to academic journey as well as more specific with digital footprints data research, and advice on selecting research topics, securing funding, and developing methodologies. They emphasised maintaining motivation, managing time, and seeking interdisciplinary collaborations during the PhD process. For the transition to postdoc roles, they highlighted the increased independence and responsibilities, offering tips on securing opportunities through networking and building not just a publication record but also research impact.
  • Through invited talks, posters and flash talks, the breadth of research topics and data presented was impressive, reflecting a dynamic and innovative approach to contemporary issues. Researchers showcased diverse methods for collecting and analysing data, from mood surveys designed to gather ground truth in digital footprints to predicting the uptake of social support schemes such as Healthy Start Vouchers using measures of deprivation and food insecurity.

Studies highlighted the importance of understanding who contributes digital footprints data for research, with findings from nationwide efforts shedding light on participant demographics. Continuous glucose monitoring among older adults provided insights into health variability and its correlates, while data from a food-sharing app offered evidence of the difficult choices faced by food-insecure individuals.

Innovative approaches included augmenting traditional surveys with social media data, creating probabilistic frameworks for linking datasets, and using banking data to explore the relationship between gambling behaviour and related harm. Additionally, analysis of Twitter usage through linked data provided valuable insights into online behaviour and motivations.

Looking ahead

The next conference, Digital Footprints 25, is set to take place at the University of Leeds. This event is scheduled to run over two full days (14/15th of May 2025) to provide ample time for networking and collaboration among attendees. Our ambition for Digital Footprints 25 is to enhance the conference by increasing representation from both policy and industry sectors. By involving more stakeholders from these areas, we will bridge the gap between research and practical applications, ensuring that our discussions and findings have a tangible impact on real-world practices.

Additionally, we are focused on growing the number of international attendees. By attracting a diverse global audience, we aim to enrich the conference with a variety of perspectives and experiences, promoting a more comprehensive understanding of digital footprints and their implications.

A key priority for this upcoming conference is to increase the diversity of our speakers and panellists. We are committed to featuring voices from underrepresented groups and ensuring that a wide range of viewpoints are included in the program. This commitment to diversity will enhance the quality of discussions and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable event.

Dr Anya Skatova and Prof Michelle Morris, on behalf of the organising committee

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for 308 older-age participants in an English birth cohort: variability and correlates

Sophie V Eastwood, Michele Orini, Andrew Wong, Scott T Chiesa, Joshua King-Robson, Jonathan Scott, Nishi Chaturvedi
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Understanding Twitter Usage through Linked Data: An Analysis of Motivations and Online Behavior

Shujun Liu, Luke Sloan, Curtis Jessop, Tarek Al Baghal, Paulo Serodio
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

RADAR-Pipeline: Scalable Feature Generation for Mobile Health Data

Heet Sankesara, Yatharth Ranjan, Pauline Conde, Zulqarnain Rashid, Akash Roy Choudhury, Amos Folarin
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Exploring Digital Biomarkers for Depression Using Mobile Technology

Yuezhou Zhang, Amos Folarin, Richard Dobson
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Utilising User Data from a Food-Sharing App to Evidence the "Heat-or-Eat" Dilemma

Torran Semple, John Harvey, Lucelia Rodrigues, Mark Gillott, Grazziela Figueredo, Georgiana Nica-Avram
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Who donates food purchase data for research? Results from two nationwide data collection efforts in Finland

Anna-Leena Vuorinen, Henna Vepsäläinen, Jelena Meinilä, Elviira Lehto, Hannu Saarijärvi, Maijaliisa Erkkola, Mikael Fogelholm, Jaakko Nevalainen
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Alcohol Interventions on Online Grocery Shopping Platforms

Eszter Vigh, Angela Attwood, Anne Roudaut
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Augmenting Surveys with Social Media Data: A Probabilistic Framework for LinkedIn Data Linkage.

Paulo Matos Serodio, Tarek Al Baghal, Luke Sloan, Shujun Liu, Curtis Jessop
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Predicting Healthy Start Scheme Uptake using Deprivation and Food Insecurity Measures.

Kuzivakwashe Makokoro, Gavin Long, John Harvey, Andrew Smith, Simon Welham, Evgeniya Lukinova, James Goulding
Published online: Jun 10, 2024

Using social media metrics and linked survey data to understand survey behaviors

Tarek Al Baghal, Paulo Serodio, Shujun Liu, Luke Sloan, Curtis Jessop
Published online: Jun 10, 2024