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Coming together as a community

14th February 2017

This blog post was written by the organisations present at the meeting mentioned below, led by Cassie Robinson of Tech for Good Global. The sketch is by Irit Pollak, Networks & Engagement Lead, Doteveryone.

Nesta is the lead partner on the DSI4EU project. 

Last week a group of organisations came together for a working session, which will be the first of many, we hope. Tech For Good Global, Bethnal Green Ventures, CAST, Nominet Trust, Doteveryone, Nesta, Good Things Foundation, Comic Relief and the British Council are all doing work in the “tech for good” space. Some of these organisations call it Digital Social Innovation, some Social Tech, some Civic Tech, some Responsible Tech and others Tech For Social Good. What we each call it doesn’t matter, and we are not spending any time on trying to find one description that we all agree on. What we do agree though is that there is value in us all as a group starting to link up our efforts more.

As organisations and individuals, we all believe that digital and technology have roles to play in addressing global and social challenges, and in leveling and redistributing power. Some of us are looking to broaden and strengthen the field of tech for good through research, mainstreaming content and building community, some are delivery organisations that target specific groups like the hard to reach, or charities and civil society, and others are funders. Some have an international focus, others are currently focussed on Europe and the UK.

We have come together and intend to keep meeting monthly because we want to see more of the following happen:

  • The work of all of our organisations and others in the field needs to be less fragmented. Regardless of the different terms we use, there is value in us all linking up our activity and our learning.
  • There is still a huge disconnect between the technology/digital communities and the social sector (charities, civil society, public services etc) and we want to find ways to bridge this. If we use the famous Cedric Price quote “if technology is the answer, what was the question?”, we want to make sure those with the good questions (often the social sector and people with lived experience) are at the forefront of how the field grows.
  • Lots of people still don’t know about or understand the ways technology can be used for “good” - from funders who are interested in resourcing it more, through to the mainstream/ general public who aren’t necessarily aware of what is available to them and what they have access to. We want to raise awareness, develop understanding and create more demand for “tech for good.”
  • If we increase demand for “tech for good” we also want to shape and inform how tech itself is designed and distributed. We want to champion work that looks at accessibility, fairness, accountability, ownership and agency, recognising that technology isn’t tied to a single structure or way of organising but is the product of the society and culture that builds it.
  • To ensure that more resource and talent comes into the field we need to better understand and show the impact and relevance of the work being done in “tech for good”.

This activity is going to be a priority for us as a group of organisations and in our second meet up we will agree more specific targets of what we want to achieve/change in 1-3 years. As Geoff Mulgan writes in his blog post for the SIX Wayfinder this week, digital and technology should be a priority for the next 10 years for all organisations who care about social innovation.

There’s been an extraordinary flowering of digital social innovation and civic tech, particularly around open data, open knowledge, the maker movement and citizen science. But these haven’t yet made strong links to previous generations of civil society organisations and charities, and many have struggled to achieve large scale. “

If you want to find out more about any of the work we are doing, or want to join our group of organisations then get in touch with: cassie@techforgood.tv

We will also be meeting for coffee and breakfast on Friday for anyone attending the SIX Wayfinder conference in London. We will be here between 8-9am, a short walk away from Nesta.

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