Community connectivity social action platform
In the Alpha phase, we seek to address the questions: How do we build connection at a hyper-local level? How do we enable interactivity with conveners across the system?
We will respond by adapting an existing technology, Tribe™ https://www.tribeproject.org/, which has been designed to address inequality of care provision, to consider inequality in community action. It is untested in a young, urban population. We also seek to consider its application within a digital platform, the direction of travel for many local authorities.
We will focus on young people’s participation, through an asset-based community development programme in Tower Hamlets, Communities Driving Change (CDC). An absence of youth participation has been observed in all twelve neighbourhoods, and has been cited as a cause of social isolation; young people’s presence within estates are associated with crime, anti-social behaviour and a perception of fear among older populations. Nationally, young people also have the fastest growing incidence of loneliness (ONS, 2018).
Co-produced solutions involve increasing opportunities for young people, in terms of social activities, skills development and paid work. A corporate, statutory and third sector response is critical to meeting these expressed needs. We will geospatially map need and existing assets, identifying gaps. We propose a design-led, co-production approach to adapting technology to enables its further application to similar settings.
A successful outcome would entail increased youth participation across the twelve CDC neighbourhoods, and an agile response from system conveners to identified gaps. Measures of success for the four month period would include:
- User-tested platform enabled for young people
- Primary, secondary and tertiary assets geospatially mapped
- An identified approach for activating assets in response to young people’s expressed needs and wants
- Other local authorities’ identifying application for this approach
The project will be delivered by a mixture of in-house and external partners. Tower Hamlets will provide project management, coordination and digital platform development. The external partners will be Uscreates part of the Futuregov family to deliver the user research, testing and design the user journeys and Bronze Labs to lead the technical expertise and prototyping.
The Alpha project will follow the Digital Service Standard using an Agile approach working in 2-week sprints ensuring timely delivery and learning. The milestones are:
- Inception [2 weeks]
- Project plan refined and agreed
- Project team put in place and stakeholders engaged
- Kick-off workshop open to other local authorities to join
- Alpha objectives, hypotheses and risks agreed
- Co-design [2 weeks]
- Stakeholders and user groups (previously working on discovery project) re-engaged individually
- Multi-user/stakeholder design bootcamp over three days to generate ideas to adapt Tribe to meet user needs
- Prototyping [2 weeks]
- Retrospective to prioritise ideas and user journeys for prototyping
- Multi-user/stakeholder design bootcamp to prototype user journeys/wireframes
- Testing [2 weeks]
- Retrospective to prioritise prototypes to test
- Multi-user/stakeholder design bootcamp to test user journeys/wireframes
- Conclusion [4 weeks]
- Retrospective to prioritise prototypes to take into Beta
- Reporting, business case development and Beta planning
- Final Show&Tell open to other local authorities to join
We will implement an iterative approach to the digital platform development. We plan to develop the assets throughout. Tower Hamlets Council will bring business case development expertise, Uscreates will deliver an alpha report and Bronze lab will present a beta proposal all ready to publish by 31 March 2019.
Outcomes and objectives (listed under 1) will be measured through a combination of CDC contract KPIs, case studies, project deliverables and feedback from workshops with partner local authorities.
Tribe ™ has been acknowledged as one of the highest impact social action projects by Social Tech Trust. The project’s vision and proof of concept has already earned industry recognition through a regional ‘Technology and Innovation Company of the Year’ award, where Bronze Labs were runners up. To date this technology has been applied to older, rural populations including in Shropshire, Dorset and Somerset. This project will adapt Tribe technology to account for the concerns of youth participation, social cohesion and diversity that an inner city setting presents.
This project aims to improve youth participation, thus making more efficient use of resource where current techniques are very human resource-intensive of ineffective in appropriately connecting with the target population.
Ultimately, this project seeks to increase access to skills development, work experience and paid employment thus alleviating poverty and increasing contributions to the local economy. The 2017 Tower Hamlets’ Pupil Attitudes survey, confirmed that worrying about what to do in the future was the major concern for secondary school pupil’s (42%) – this is of particular note in an area with the highest rate of lower level mental health needs in London. Many young people, particularly those from poorer backgrounds or groups under-represented in the labour market still do not get the information, advice and guidance they need (Skills for Londoners: a skills and adult education strategy for London, Mayor of London, June 2018). The number of cases where employers have been unable to fill a vacancy due to skills shortages in the capital has also more than doubled since 2011 – rising from 14,000 to 37,000 (Bridging the Skills Gap, London Councils, 2017).
The Tower Hamlets’ CDC programme is based on the peer-reviewed Well Communities approach: http://wellcommunities.org.uk/
The Discovery (scoping and engagement) phase of the programme (over a 9 month period) revealed the following:
- A desire for social connections, and a need for innovation to enable those connections, particularly in neighbourhoods where physical assets, or primary physical assets, do not exist
- Lack of engagement with existing communication approaches, leading to a lack of awareness of activities in the local area
- Young people required radical inclusion techniques to enable their participation (i.e. go to where they are, at the times that they are there and create safe talking spaces)
- A desire to increase aspirations among young people, and provide opportunities for skill development, work experience and paid employment
- A desire for parenting peer support, from early years through to young people
- Safety is a major concern for many, with drug dealing and anti-social behaviour having visible presence in their area. This inhibits residents’ confidence in seeking social connection
- Loneliness – across generations
- A strong desire to contribute to improving their local area and to engendering neighbourliness
Uscreates has been instrumental in establishing the CDC programme, the discovery reports that it produced through this initial phase are available at:
Lot 3 area discovery report phase 1: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Y1ceVFqlqKwFTjh-PfT8OpkiABsbwVZ9kiKEXuyEJHk/edit?usp=sharing
Lot 3 area discovery report phase 2: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1P7QjRM0aRkEz0YTgJaR3wvJtOWqJxh2f6wG94ncNisU/edit#slide=id.g38f4d2e0a9_1_21
Lot 4 area discovery report phase 1: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1cLG2czyR8LVMoldYv7d-1p6pExwkLaubd6vzzqZt2D4/edit#slide=id.p
Lot 4 area discovery report phase 2: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gtB_fi8wDVyYO4HZB11h7wxFyljyljqG2-mi92YXvcM/edit#slide=id.p
There are two sets of local authorities we will be working with in this project.
Existing users of the Tribe software, including Shropshire Council, have agreed to share their experience of the technology. This will form part of our inception phase. There is also opportunity here to bring in our second group of local authority to inform objectives for the wider sector to be covered in our shareable user and benefits research.
We have also engaged other local authorities, including Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham councils, who are interested in adopting similar technologies within their work. They will be invited to take part in both the inception and conclusion phases. The latter provides opportunity to consult on the prescribed outputs of this work to provide a polished final product. There is also time and opportunity to engage other local authorities, including those who have bid through this fund, in these phases.
By April 2019 we will deliver the following outputs:
- Business case: we will compile the information from external suppliers and partner councils together with previous data to prove cost savings.
- Alpha user research report: we will produce a final summary report with the analysis and findings from the iterative rounds of user research, sharing user needs, user journeys and possible prototypes. We would like to put the report in the open allowing other local authorities to make use of findings and journeys as design patterns for similar work.
- Beta proposal: if we conclude that it’s viable to move into a Beta phase, we will offer a basic working system that can be demonstrated to users with a plan to move to private and public beta testing and less detailed recommendations for live. We will also set some metrics to measure the product’s success, and an understanding of the systems we need to integrate with or replace.
- Added value: we have also factored in consideration for how learning from this approach and adapted technology can be incorporated within the council’s developing digital platform. This will have additional value for a number of local authorities whose digital strategies are moving in this direction.
We will engage the following user groups:
- Young people
- Residents who could better connect with young people are engaged through CDC local area action groups.
- CDC programme, we have established relationships with local voluntary and community sector organisations in Tower Hamlets, including the Council for Voluntary Services, the Young Foundation, Mytime Active, and Streets for Growth.
- We will engage local businesses and facilities, such as Husk Cafe and local Idea Stores, who form part of the CDC area steering groups.
- Local services, including Health, Young People, Employment, and Housing
- Local policy makers and commissioners including the digital and community engagement teams
- We will also engage other local authorities who are facing similar challenges
Through the following mechanisms, as appropriate:
- individual interviews to understand appropriate value exchange
- Alpha kick-off workshop
- Bootcamps in every sprint
- Invitation to Show & Tells
- Alpha conclusion workshop
The objectives of this research are:
a) explore and understand the needs of young people in Tower Hamlets in terms of connectivity to access to social activities, skills development and employment
b) co-produce a feasible, viable, and desirable prototype Tribe™ system to support young people to connect to relevant opportunities;
c) understand the role digital can play in increasing young people’s connectivity and access to opportunities
d) identify value exchange for conveners/community organisations
To achieve that we will work with users and stakeholders to ensure the prototype is desirable, feasible and viable. We will take a design-led, co-production approach to adapting this technology in a way that enables its further application in similar settings.
We would like to take advantage of any training opportunities available to our organisation, including digital commissioning capability training, digital leadership and introduction to service design.
We are also interested in learning from other funded programmes and would welcome the opportunity to share experiences with other projects.
We have not been granted funding for this phase of the project in the past.
The CDC programme is funded through the public health grant, not external funding.