A guest blog from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Nesta Challenges and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, have launched the Tech to Connect Challenge, to support charities, social enterprises, and social tech ventures across England to tackle social isolation using technology.
The Challenge aims to attract a wide range of innovative tech-based solutions to support people who are socially isolated.
Read on to find out more about the Challenge.
Social isolation is a major public health concern. It can affect anyone from any walk of life and at any stage of life. Becoming a parent, losing a loved one; starting out at university or moving to a new area are just some of the factors that can lead to isolation.
Numerous studies have shown that social isolation often leads to feelings of loneliness:
Technology offers unprecedented opportunities to approach social challenges and the tech for good movement is critically important to help us solve the major issues facing us all. After all, our technology and civil society sectors are, at their core, all about shaking up established conventions and solving problems. And there are so many social issues where technology can play a part. We have already seen some fantastic work tackling loneliness. For example Activage, a pilot led by Samsung, aims to reduce social isolation through using the latest Internet of Things technology to monitor falls and vital statistics, so older people can live independently in their homes and communities for longer.
Government recognises the huge potential for our civil society to tackle some of the most complex social challenges using technology. The Tech To Connect Challenge will play a direct role in helping civil society solve these problems through driving innovation as set out in the cross-government Civil Society Strategy. The strategy demonstrates the government’s commitment to promoting private, social, and public sectors to use technology to create social good.
Government also published its first cross government loneliness strategy, ‘A Connected Society: A Strategy for Tackling Loneliness’ in October 2018 that sets out a powerful vision on how we can all play a role in building a more socially connected society. Tackling loneliness and social isolation to achieve thriving and connected communities cannot be done by government alone. They can, however, help to bring together civil society, and support them to do so, through routes such as through this Challenge. That is why DCMS have invested £1 million towards the Tech to Connect Challenge, which will focus the efforts of industry, civil society, and government. This is a call to action for one of the most insidious public health challenges of our time and we strongly believe technology could help to solve it.
The Tech To Connect Challenge will deliver on the objectives of both government strategies by encouraging participating organisations to take better advantage of technological innovations to reduce social isolation.
To find out more, visit: techtoconnect.challenges.org.