January 25 2016By Guest
With thanks to Nissa Ramsay, UK Grants Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Comic Relief and 2015 NT100 Judging Partner, for writing this guest blog post.
Comic Relief has been increasing our support for charities to develop their technological capacity to deliver social change, particularly in the last year. We believe Comic Relief has a vital role as a funder to empower charities to engage with digital and, in turn, to increase the range of digital products and services available to those in need of help. For this reason, we were hugely excited to partner with Nominet Trust on the 2015 NT100 to see more leading examples of social tech from around the world.
Judging a selection of the applications to the 2015 NT100 really helped us see the huge diversity of ways in which technology is being used globally to tackle all manner of problems. We brought together colleagues from different roles and departments across Comic Relief to judge the applications and it was a great way to explore our assumptions and expectations about the potential of technology in addressing social challenges. Our top three applications in our selection were Tap4Life (helping midwives delivering babies outside referral facilities), Instant Detect (a camera trap system using satellite technology for remote wildlife monitoring and to prevent poaching, led by Zoological Society of London) and PulseGuard (an epilepsy alarm worn during sleep). Judging these has helped us confirm the principles we like to see in the best use of social tech - they address a clear defined problem effectively, are designed with user needs at their heart and make a clear tangible difference to those that need to use them.
This year we launched our Tech for Good pilot funding programme for 6 charities ready to develop a digital product or service, as well as digital exploration days to help charities develop ideas for early stage scoping work. These are helping us build on our work with Nominet Trust on the Innovations Labs, developing digital solutions to help young people with their mental health and wellbeing, as well as Stoke Wavemaker to create a digital exploration centre for young people. It was fantastic to see one of our grantees, Wayfindr, in the final NT100 (we didn’t judge this!). This project, led by UK charity, the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), allows visually impaired people to navigate via an audio smartphone app. This is another great example of a charity using mobile technologies in new ways to help empower people to access services and facilities in the way they choose to.
In 2016, we will use the NT100 to inspire our thinking on developing our future Tech for Good initiatives in the UK and internationally. We’re committed to supporting charities to embed digital approaches to help reach people earlier, before they reach crisis point, to help more people and increase access to services, as well as re-thinking traditional service delivery. To this end, we hope to support digital initiatives across our longstanding commitments to helping people get out of poverty, securing the safety of women and girls, improving the life chances of young people and raising awareness of social issues in an effort to challenge stigma and discrimination. The NT100 awardees have also shown how this can be done safely and effectively and we look forward to seeing their future successes.