DigitalScot.Social – Building a New, Digital Social Safety Net

An action plan project to harness the latest Social Business and Social Tech innovations to build a new civic safety net.

The core ideal of our Social Security system is that of a safety net.

However the reality of schools opening food banks to feed children and Scotland’s chronic homelessness problem are poignant examples of how modern politics has led to the utter disintegration of this capability in our country.

The headline theme of our .Social initiative is to identify how we can harness emergent technology and business model innovations to redress that situation, how citizens, businesses and governments can proactively find new ways to work together to build a new social safety net.

.Social Best Practices

Indeed it’s a uniquely powerful opportunity to reinvent entirely our concepts of what Social Welfare is and how it works, as landmark a point in time as when the Beveridge Report was published in 1942.

Scotland has a pioneering history in this field that goes back long before this too. In New Lanark David Dale and Robert Owen sowed the seeds of modern social reform through ‘Owenism‘, considered a forerunner of the cooperative movement.

Upon these foundations Scotland is ideally suited to be a pioneer of a 21st century modernization of these ideals, through a number of complimentary foundations and associated programs, and to mesh these individual pieces into one overall complete jigsaw.

Social Business

Social Business‘ is an evolution that disregards the rule that businesses only make money, and only charities do social good.

To encourage growth of the trend in Scotland we’ll be showcasing entrepreneurs leading this field, such as Gavin Neate and the Neatebox.

Gavin is pioneering , an entrepreneurial solution for ensuring businesses are suitably cognizant of the needs of disabled and visually impaired visitors to their stores, hotels and airports, and also for governments to ensure all their facilities are equally welcoming.

Another huge success story in this field is Social Bite, expanding from a sandwich store to a project to build a homeless village, and a broader engagement of the business world consciousness of the problem through a national program of sleepouts.

Social Tech

Social Tech‘ refers to technology trends and innovations intended to improve society and people’s lives for the better.

From chatbots, online tracking and crowdfunding there are a myriad of pioneers around the world trying out new ideas to tackle social needs like homelessness. How can we bring these together under one umbrella in Scotland and magnify their collective impact?

We can think of each as one piece of an overall jigsaw, so helping see and act at a level of this overall jigsaw is the objective. A simple example: Shelter Scotland developed a Homeless Help button. How might we connect this to other organizations and technologies, to maximize the success of each?

For example the Scottish Government has a Digital Participation policy and from this defined a Digital Participation Charter, supported by funding to help boost the digital skills of all Scots to ensure they can participate in the modern online economy. How can we better coordinate leveraging of these programs?

It doesn’t even have to be the most advanced technologies. Many social organizations would benefit simply from adoption of basic Cloud tools and services, as they are still stuck with antiquated systems and manual processes as they lack the IT skills to know how to do things differently.

For example Simon Community Scotland improved their internal operations by moving to G-Suite email, through advice and support from local IT expert Cobry.

In Aberdeen they combined the tool with Texthelp to make online learning more accessible to those with reading difficulties, demonstrating the potential for improving digital inclusion. Other Cloud suppliers like AWS offers a program for non-profits, so our initiative can help the sector better exploit these powerful resources.

Social Digital Government

Achieving better collaboration and interconnection is the headline theme of ‘Social Digital Government‘ practices – Systemic fusion of government and the Third Sector.

Digital Cities achieve better outcomes for their entire population, and use of techniques like crowdsourcing can enable accelerated social innovation too, in key areas like poverty elimination through economic rejuvenation, and social inclusion for groups like their homeless.

Social Crowdfunding: Community-powered economic rejuvenation of Scotland

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