Wednesday 8th April 2020 - The Coronavirus Tech Handbook, a rapidly evolving crowdsourced resource, has become a repository of responses to COVID-19. Nesta, the global innovation foundation, has today awarded the platform its first grant of £50,000 so it can continue its work collating lifesaving information from hundreds of experts around the world on a daily basis.
The global pandemic means institutions, industries and individuals are being forced to adapt at an unprecedented rate, and many are struggling to do this alone. Reassuringly, at the same time there has been a surge of skilled practitioners who want to offer their time, skills and resources to help. The handbook, set up by UK-based, independent college Newspeak House, facilitates this cooperation and coordination across borders.
The handbook has already helped:
- doctors based in the UK to advise doctors in Ecuador on how to develop safe personal protective equipment
- mutual aid groups in the UK to share ways of organising volunteers and their finances
- the exchange of dashboards to store and interpret crucial data relating to coronavirus.
The initial Nesta funding will allow for the development of the handbook to allow for more users at a time, improved searchability and capacity for exporting links.
By creating a library for technologists, civic organisations, public and private institutions, researchers and specialists of all kinds, the toolkit reduces duplication of work, encourages re-use, identifies gaps in knowledge and shares best practice. In a situation where time is of the essence, this prevents experts and volunteers wasting energy on individually solving the same problems, over and over again.
Members of the advisory board include Katherine Maher, Executive Director of The Wikipedia Foundation, Bill Thompson, Principal Research Engineer, BBC R&D, Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer, Greater London Authority.
Vicki Sellick, Executive Director of Programmes, Nesta says, “Nesta will be supporting the Coronavirus Tech Handbook as it facilitates community response to COVID-19 on a global scale. The project is harnessing the wisdom of the crowd and has grown at an enormous rate since it was set up just a few weeks ago. In such a fast moving situation the Coronavirus Tech Handbook is a clever way to coordinate efforts around the world and share the technologies and strategies that could save lives.”
Edward Saperia from Newspeak House says, "The main problem is one of coordination. Experts and institutions across all nations are all focusing their efforts on this - we will beat it if we work together, and that means specialising and learning from each other. If you're working on a response to this pandemic, whether as part of a large institution or a lone volunteer, make sure it's represented in the handbook. If you're updating your strategy, review the handbook to see if you can learn from the experience of others.”
Notes to editors:
About the Coronavirus Tech Handbook
The handbook features a range of specialist sections, from remote working and volunteering and mutual aid to medicine and care. Whatsapp groups have been set up in the background where detailed discussions are taking place on how best to tackle the problems currently facing all sections of society.
The technologists behind the project are Edward Saperia and Nathan Young from Newspeak House.
Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment. We work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good.
About Newspeak House
The London College of Political Technologists: Newspeak House is an independent residential college founded in 2015 to study, nurture and inspire emerging communities of practice across UK public sector and civil society.
Newspeak House previously set up the ElectionTechHandbook.uk, the largest set of websites, data and tools around the UK elections in 2019.