Software engineering for 'social good': integrating action research, participatory design, and agile development

Maria Angela Ferrario, Will Simm, Peter Newman, Stephen Forshaw, Jon Whittle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Software engineering for 'social good' is an area receiving growing interest in recent years. Software is increasingly seen as a way to promote positive social change: this includes initiatives such as Code for America and events such as hackathons, which strive to build innovative software solutions with a social conscience. From a software engineering perspective, existing software processes do not always match the needs of these social software projects, which are primarily aimed at social change and often involve vulnerable communities. In this paper, we argue for new software processes that combine elements of agile, iterative development with principles drawn from action research and participatory design. The former allow social software projects to be built quickly with limited resources; the latter allow for a proper understanding of the social context and vulnerable user groups. The paper describes Speedplay, a software development management framework integrating these approaches, and illustrates its use in a real social innovation case study.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication36th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE Companion 2014) - Proceedings
EditorsPankaj Jalote, Lionel Briand, André van der Hoek
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781450327688
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2014 - Hyderabad, India
Duration: 31 May 20147 Jun 2014
Conference number: 36th


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2014
Abbreviated titleICSE 2014
Internet address


  • Action research
  • Agile methods
  • Socially conscious software

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