Projects that tackling digital exclusion and that support those vulnerable in the pandemic are the focus of the two programmes which have the potential to help large numbers of Londoners.
A project that tackles digital exclusion and a programme to build preventative measures to help ensure vulnerable people do not reach crisis point have been announced as the two successful bids by the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) in its £150,000 Covid Innovation Fund.
The LOTI team will provide hands-on support and disseminate learning for all LOTI members to benefit from, in addition to the £75,000 for each project idea.
The fund was set up in December to support London boroughs’ response to the pandemic, with half the funds to go towards a project making smarter use of data and the other half towards a digitally enabled initiative.
Eddie Copeland, director of LOTI, which was launched in 2019 as a collaboration between London local authorities with the support of the London mayor, described the two winning bids are having the potential to help large numbers of Londoners.
“The Covid-19 crisis has acted as a catalyst for innovative local responses using data and digital technology,” he said. “Through our Covid Innovation Fund, we’re supporting boroughs to work together in developing their ideas further and securing faster progress towards our shared ambitions.”
Tackling digital exclusion by developing an interactive demographic map of user needs: put forward by Barnet, Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark and Westminster, the project seeks to build on the participating boroughs’ work creating richer data models for better understanding the distribution and different forms of digital exclusion.
Across London, thousands of people are unfairly excluded from education and employment opportunities because they do not have the skills or access to devices to get online. Boroughs are also concerned by digital exclusion growing as more and more services shift to online delivery. Priority groups with particular support needs include vulnerable people over 65, low-income families, those who are unemployed, and Londoners with disabilities.
“Through our Covid Innovation Fund, we’re supporting boroughs to work together in developing their ideas further and securing faster progress towards our shared ambitions”
Developing new approaches to preventative support for vulnerable residents in partnership with voluntary sector organisations: put forward by Newham and Hackney, this aims to build preventative measures to help ensure residents whose vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the pandemic do not reach crisis point.
It will explore how councils can work in more joined-up ways with their local voluntary sectors to identify needs proactively and intervene early, including in key risk areas such as: problem debt; poor mental health of those isolated and/or shielding; and preventing eviction; support and advice for those bereaved by Covid-19.
“The pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on local authorities and our communities, but boroughs remain determined to innovate and make better use of data and technology to support our residents,” said Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney and London Councils’ Digital Champion.
“These winning bids are testament to that determination and the focus on reducing digital exclusion and supporting the most vulnerable. We look forward to seeing the results over the coming months.”
Hosted by London Councils, LOTI aims to help the boroughs collaborate on projects that bring the best of technology, data and innovation to improve public services and outcomes for Londoners.
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