What does it mean when we say “Tech for Good”?
The phrase ‘tech for good’ has become commonplace in recent years, and even more so following the past 18 months when so much of the world has relied heavily on digital solutions to tackle the problems presented by the pandemic.
But what does it really mean?
According to Dan Sutch, Researcher and CEO at the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technologies, and quoted by Tech For Good Hub, ‘Tech for Good is the intentional design, development and use of digital technologies to address social challenges. It is the combination of the most powerful and flexible tool we’ve ever had and good design approaches that are user-led and test-driven’.
Over the past few years, we’ve been incredibly privileged to be involved in, and even to lead on, some great tech for good projects, including work delivered on behalf of the national charity Shelter, Sheffield-based Tickets for Good, and the launch of our own In It Together platform.
Here, our CEO and co-founder Paul Ridgway outlines some highlights:
“With the advances tech has brought to the world within even the last few decades it isn’t hard to pull out stories that capture ‘tech for good’. Looking inwards at some of the work we have accomplished as an organisation, it resonates even more so.
“Covid-19 rattled the world and businesses were certainly not exempt. To help in some small way during what was a really tough time for many, we offered consultation advice at cost to try our best to help support the local business economy in response to the pandemic.
“This was something that felt like second nature to us in such trying times, and it seemed like the right thing to do to help our local residential and business communities to survive.
“Additionally, in response to the challenges and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic we launched the In It Together platform – a community project meant to keep us digitally connected whilst social distancing was, and still is, required from us all.
“While the platform had a limited shelf life, it was intended to utilise technology to keep communities in touch by allowing those who could provide support or a service to the most vulnerable members of society via online means, while communicating with one another in a GDPR compliant way.”
Towards the end of 2020 The Curve began working with Sheffield based company Tickets for Good, which focuses on combining social good and social life, to help them scale up their digital capacity in preparation for the return of venue-based events.
Paul continued: “Tickets for Good works to make events more inclusive by providing free event tickets to charities and social groups through The Ticket Bank to try to improve the mental health and wellbeing of individuals who otherwise would not be able to access these events.
“Tickets for Good have provided thousands of people with free tickets, even working with high-profile local events like Tramlines Music Festival.
“The use of tech helped improve the features and functionality of the Tickets for Good platform and has in turn helped them in their journey to support the ever-growing number of organisations and communities in need across society.”
In more recent months the business began a project in collaboration with the housing charity Shelter England. We were tasked with creating a programme that allows the national housing charity to better interact with and meet the needs of its service users.
Shelter England, in its own words, exists to defend the right to a safe home. Millions of people each day are being devastated by the housing emergency, and Shelter aims to help those in need whether it be over the phone or online, by offering free legal advice or one-to-one personalised help.
Paul said: “Shelter England is an incredible charity doing great things for those in need. Working in collaboration with their in-house client data team, we are helping to improve the effectiveness of their client engagement and communication channels.”
Recently, The Curve was also one of several Sheffield tech firms that marked this years’ Science Month by assisting with an online hackathon. The event, which took place on 25th March, was attended by those looking to enter the world of coding.
Earlier this year, the Chancellor looked to curb the looming skills shortage in the annual budget, with an extension to the government’s support for retraining programmes, apprenticeships and traineeships welcomed by the tech sector.
The hackathon, which saw coders test out their skills to compete for prizes, was hosted by the BCS South Yorkshire branch.
Paul said: “The event was really well attended, and it was a fantastic opportunity to see the up-and-coming talent in this field.
“We had a diverse mix of attendees, including those who were trying to get back into the world of tech development after following a different career path, as well as younger individuals just starting out in their career.
“It was a brilliant event to be involved with, and I look forward to working on similar ones in the future.”
These case studies outline how tech can lead to creating real change across several industries not just including from a social, economic and environmental perspective. The Curve’s team of leading experts remains committed to using their skills to devise technical solutions that can facilitate meaningful change, for businesses, but also for communities.