Skip Links | Site Map | Privacy & Cookies

InfoLab21 Company Supports Lancaster's Local Trading Project

InfoLab21 resident company NuBlue is providing free cloud-based hosting for Lancaster Univeristy's BARTER research project.

BARTER (moBile sociAl netwoRking supporTing local Ethical tRading) is a joint project by the School of Computing and Communications and Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts.

The project aims to create a "loyalty trading system which records trades and tracks the trading patterns within the system to reward sustainable and locally beneficial trading behaviour in Lancaster".

Using mobile and web technology, the 18-month project favours local trading within a community, aiming to map where money is being spent, with the long term aim of possibly extending to other cities after the initial project is complete.

NuBlue, an award-winning Digital Agency, is providing a free, scalable virtual hosting platform to allow BARTER to log research data in the cloud. The data is the end product and will be passed on to the European Union and reviewed.

BARTER is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, but it counts on local traders and consumers getting involved. PhD student Mark Lochrie, a specialist in mobile development met with NuBlue about the project, he will be working with Dr Paul Coulton (of the exploratory lab ImaginationLancaster) and Professor Jon Whittle from the School of Computing and Communications.

The BARTER project originated out of a Catalyst Launchpad, which was initially supervised by Dr Paul Coulton and his 3rd year student Adrian Gradinar, alongside the support of ESTA founder Michael Hallam. BARTER encourages consumers to spend money locally but also gives an opportunity for local traders to benefit from market research technologies the way high street stores do, by using NFC-enabled cards. These cards do not transmit personal data the way credit cards do, the trader will receive just a first name and the amount spent for their services. Many new smart phones are NFC-enabled, but BARTER are looking to develop an attachment for iPhones, iPads and other non-NFC phones.

The BARTER team are actively seeking ways to integrate their system into existing technologies, systems and loyalty schemes. Traders will adopt an easy-to-use phone app called 'LocalTrader', which will store, upload and track transactions from their consumers. BARTER wants this process to be seamless rather than a hassle. Local trading isn't usually closely monitored but is a significant part of a local economy, so BARTER aims to gain and provide a much greater insight into where (and how much) trading goes on in specific places in the local community. The team are searching for local business involvement with the research project, to encourage local spend.

Local Trader app

The biggest benefit to the trader is the social networking aspect the project aims to create for local businesses and their consumers. As well as keeping tabs on personal spending, consumers can rate, recommend and review the businesses, and share information using social media. Trust is built from friendships and reviews, with the hope that this project might also inspire business-to-business trading. In the same way high street stores are regularly discussed online, traders in Lancaster will gain the same attention. And in a world where everything is shared virtually, BARTER are hoping it will become an essential platform.

The research project will finish in November 2014.

For more information on the BARTER project please go to the

Tue 16 July 2013

Associated Links