Digital Nation

Bridging the Digital Divide: Connecting Scotland to Address Poverty and Homelessness

"Bridging the Digital Divide" refers to the role technology can play in transforming society to tackle systemic issues like poverty and homelessness.

A headline theme for Digital Scotland is “Bridging the Digital Divide”, referring to the role technology can play in transforming society such that we tackle systemic issues like poverty and homelessness.

This is a deep, multi-faceted challenge.

The immediate concept that first springs to mind is the basic issue of devices and connectivity, a situation explained and being addressed by the Connecting Scotland initiative.

This program would provide kit (a device, data, training and support) to low income, digitally excluded households to enable them to access the digital services they needed, be it personal or professional.

Proxy Address: Virtual Addresses for the Homeless

The multi-faceted aspect becomes apparent when you consider it’s entirely possible to be fully connected online but still be socially and economically excluded. Many have full digital capabilities at home but still find themselves locked out of productive working and personal relationships, technology alone is not the answer, we require transformation of organizations and services.

A keynote example is the simple but devastating situation for homeless people where lacking a home address can mean complete exclusion from exactly the services intended to help you move up and out of those circumstances.

ProxyAddress, developed in partnership with Amiqus, fixes this catch-22 of losing a permanent address by allowing those facing homelessness to “borrow” an existing address so they can access vital services. This leverages the Amiqus digital identity verification capability, capable of many use cases such as employment background checking and in this case, harnesses it to provide a ‘virtual address’ for those currently without one.

Given the access to services, employment opportunities et al this makes possible it is an entirely transformative development. Early pilots include Lewisham Council where it can unlock the paradox that local government spends a fortune trying to tackle homelessness, but it can often be their own bureaucracy that is one of the primary causes.


Editor of On a mission to build a world leading Scottish digital nation.

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