Digital social action
We know that technology has the power to transform the way many of us engage with the issues and causes that matter most to us. That’s why the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund is launching a new call for proposals for innovations that are using digital technology to get people involved in social action.
The web has enabled unprecedented levels of human collaboration; yet it has only scratched the surface of what it can do to tackle the most pressing societal problems.
This latent capacity for social good has not gone unnoticed. Coders and technologists are the new activists, tackling issues like the democratic deficit and using their skills to teach young people how to programme computers. They are working side-by-side with social entrepreneurs who are trying to disrupt existing sectors with technology driven solutions. They often look to civil society and the public sector for support to impact at scale, but all too often these sectors lag behind, recognising the potential but struggling with implementation
Social action is an integral part of this movement.
The digital social action field is extremely diverse. It encompasses traditional forms of social action such as civic participation, campaigning and volunteering, as well as a new type of internet-enabled actions, such as those seen in the sharing economy or in citizen science projects. Some of the most inspiring examples – such as FixMyStreet or Ushahidi – have evolved into platforms that are being used by citizens across the globe.
Taking into account the purpose of the fund, we’ve narrowed this field down to a subset of issues that we are most interested in:
Supporting communities to take action in times of emergency. We are interested in platforms that enable people to come together and volunteer their time and expertise in extraordinary circumstances, where social action can make a real, immediate impact on people’s lives. For example, we’re currently working with an ambulance service to develop a smartphone app that enables them to deploy volunteer first-aiders to emergency situations such as cardiac arrests. Several of these apps exist across the world – such as Pulsepoint in America – but nothing has been deployed to support the thousands of community first responders in the UK.
Fostering peer-to-peer or volunteer-led support in one of our existing priority fields (long term conditions, ageing, jobs, young people, impact volunteering). This could include platforms that bring together communities of interest and foster mutual support, or the innovative use of technology to broker and sustain mentoring or support relationships.
Encouraging people to share their data, particularly about their health, for the public good. For example, platforms that encourage patients to share data about their condition with researchers and public services. We’ve been hugely inspired by examples such as PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether; initiatives such as these are not helping us to improve outcomes, but they are helping to make the donation of data as normal as giving our time or money.
This isn’t a call for new or untested ideas. We want to help innovations achieve significant scale, which means we need to back stuff that has a track record of delivery, evidence of impact and a viable business model. Innovations also need to have a clear link to public service outcomes.
You can find out much more information about our criteria and what we’re looking for here. We’re only looking to back a small number of innovations, so please do read through this carefully. We’ll also be holding a webinar on Friday 18 July where you’ll be able to ask us questions about this call.
Our deadline is 5pm, Thursday 31 July 2014. If you think your innovation qualifies and you have the ambition to deliver at significant scale, we’d love to hear from you.