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A new Project added to our Action plan is a goal to build a ‘Social Innovation Nation‘.

In short a national collaboration to harness the latest technology innovations to better tackle deep social needs like poverty and homelessness.

A common theme for many Scots when they define what they want from a future Scotland is a more social nation, a country that values equal prosperity for all not just the few, that properly takes care of those in need.

There is clearly work to be done towards that goal. One in five lives in poverty while income inequality grows and the Scottish Government is missing child poverty targets. There is a staggering level of food bank poverty, caused by a number of factors.

43,000 became homeless in 2018, driven by issues such as domestic abuse, and it’s predicted to continue rising by more than 50% over the next 25 years.

Transformation through Platformation

There are initiatives making headway in tackling the problem, such as those led by Social Bite, bringing great attention to the issue and also piloting impactful change programs.

As a technology organization our focus is on identifying what role IT might play in accelerating these programs, both bottom up and systemically.

The central thesis is that there is actually plentiful resources for tackling the situation, they are simply inefficiently organized. For example endlessly paying out fortunes for temporary solutions rather then investing that into permanent ones.

Another example is transforming the work place and employment models, so that we might better tap the potential for flexible working to help tackle child poverty.

An overall context for the role of technology can be envisioned through the concept of ‘Platformation’ – Applying the tech innovations and business models of 21st century digital pioneers like Netflix and Uber, across the whole of the social and public sector, for equivalent benefits of hyper-scale and efficiency.

This is especially potent when we consider the complex industry landscape including the Third Sector – They play a vital role but are often too small and lacking in digital skills to make effective use of technology.

How this might be addressed as a whole systems approach is very effectively described through this Canadian paper – Platformation – Cloud Computing Tools at the Service of Social Change.

While written back in 2012 it is still today really quite visionary, extrapolating the ‘Government as a Platform’ concept to the social sector, where platform + information = Platformation.

In summary better use of Cloud applications and online data sharing models could see them achieve a pooled singularity of information, smarter data that better informs how and where they focus their services.

For example equipping them with better insights to achieve more wholesale preventative approaches, or engendering a collective knowledge base that makes possible ‘No Wrong Door Chatbots‘ – Intelligent agents that support the Homeless Network’s goals of smarter service interfaces across the ecosystem of organizations involved in homeless service delivery.

Neil McEvoy
Founder of Digital Scotland. Veteran entrepreneur with 20+ years of pioneering Cloud computing innovations and best practices.

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