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Sciencewise event at the Science Museum reaches new audiences to feed into Government policy on drones

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On 28 January 2016, Sciencewise ran an innovative event in partnership with the Science Museum. The event was designed to test a new approach to deliberative dialogue and to feed into an ongoing dialogue project being run by the Department for Transport (DfT) with Sciencewise support. Sciencewise worked with the Science Museum to design the event, and provided training for Science Museum staff on facilitating discussions that would potentially inform policy.

The event was held in the evening (7 – 9pm) at the Dana Centre in the Science Museum, and was attended by 23 participants as well as several policy makers from the DfT, Sciencewise and the Museum. The results are being fed into the main dialogue project. The event was evaluated, as part of the evaluation of the main dialogue project. Full details will be available in the final evaluation report on the project (expected by July 2016) but, in the meantime, the evaluation found that the approach was seen to have some particular impacts and strengths as part of a wider dialogue project, as well as particular value to the DfT, the Science Museum and to participants. In the short term, lessons were identified from this pilot event to feed into the future development of new and innovative approaches to dialogue for Sciencewise.

In particular, the event provided access to a different group of stakeholders, with particular skills and knowledge; a different set of participants from the rest of the dialogue project. The evaluation termed these participants “grassroots users” who were a “middle ground” between specially recruited public participants (with no specific interest or previous knowledge in the topic) and stakeholders, especially the “more vociferous stakeholders and those few people who wrote to the Department whose voices would be heard the loudest”. The evaluation concluded that this provided “a valuable deepening of officials’ and stakeholder / experts’ appreciation of how people and organisations see the issues and would respond to initiatives.”

For more details on this project, see http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/use-and-development-of-remotely-piloted-aircraft-systems-rpas-and-small-drones-in-the-united-kingdom