The 2019 Tech for Good Longlist
Tech for Good awards a yearly grant to UK-based charities and not-for-profits that create digital projects focused on improving people's lives. In this article, we look at two projects that we think would have great impact on the access to justice sector: Homeless Link's 'myIn-Form' and Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service's 'DYI Advocate'.
Tech for Good is a community of people who share the goal of making tech that addresses social, economic and environmental challenges, built in a collaborative, user-led way with an end result that’s ethically right-on. Funded by Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), Tech for Good runs a yearly award session for UK charities and not-for-profits who design projects that deliver digital services that improve people’s lives. Tech for Good Projects operate differently – they focus on the problem and dive deeper into it through comprehensive user research. The projects are developed as a response to user-led actions, using iterative design methods in order to come up with evolving, flexible outputs as opposed to rigid solutions.
This year’s longlist includes 40 projects. Further on, 21 applications will be reviewed and 13 projects will receive funding. In this article, we will be focusing on tools in development that may be directly beneficial to the access to justice sector, since they are designed to better inform the user and increase the efficiency of user-charity communication.
Homeless Link have developed the ‘myIn-Form’ add-on to their In-Form platform, a digital product that gives homeless people the possibility to access their personal data and find information on how to find help. The service is designed to empower users who can take control of their situation by garnering a better understanding of it, while freeing up the time the staff of advice organisations must use in face to face interaction with clients. Not only would this tool improve the transparency of services and foster trust between the client and the service provider, but will reduce bureaucratic burden and admin requirements and drive efficiency for staff’s time with the client will become more productive.
Research shows that homeless people do have access to the internet, either through public computers or smartphones, thus the product must be light and easily accessible – the primary product will be a website. Meanwhile, the charity is also taking advantage of
cutting-edge technology in order to develop a similar experience through a more featured app available on IoS and Android. Service users’ survey shows that it is really important to the user to have choices and control over their situation. Homeless Link will market this tool as an add-on to In-Form. The new add-on will improve service quality, drive efficiency and allow service providers to demonstrate to commissioners their commitment to service-user accountability.
Advocacy Centre North developed DYI Advocate out of a strong belief that anyone that wants to can develop their ability to speak for themselves. DYI Advocate consists of a series of guided questions meant to help people articulate the details of their problem and the feelings they might have. The output is a simple action plan that they can send to a contact and seek further advice. The product also includes a resources section, tailored to support clients with their situation and their rights. The team behind DYI Advocate believe that
tech can reach more people and boost their clients’ confidence since they are navigating through the problem on their own. Clients also benefit from the privacy the service provides as well as up to date information about their rights.
The current steps are:
1. Identify the problem
2. Consider your feelings about it
3. Learn more about it (analysis)
4. Decide what kind of action to take
7. Report back
The challenges the current platform poses are that only one problem can be tackled at a time, and there is a demand for clients to have a certain amount of information regarding their issue in order to complete the process. The changes planned are meant to solve
some of these issues, as well as allow an interface where organisations can work side to side and connect with clients. No similar product exists on the market yet DYI Advocate competes with the cross-sector idea that a next big tech thing is coming and one should save their money for that. They need the Tech for Good funding in order to become that next big thing.