Weeknote 5 of 2021

Covid Innovation Fund

Monday 1 February was the deadline for boroughs to submit their ideas to LOTI’s Covid Innovation Fund. Regular readers of our weeknotes will recall that LOTI is ringfencing £150,000 to support two collaborative projects that address our Year 2 strategic priority of helping Londoners whose needs have grown as a result of the Covid Pandemic.

We were pleased to receive eight quality bids, which you can view and comment on in this document. In brief, the ideas are:

  1. Developing a matching service for local businesses looking for services within their community (business to business) or freelancers or local people looking for employment.
  2. Creating a playbook for bricks and mortar businesses on how to transform their offering online.
  3. Using digital tools in ways appropriate for, and inclusive of, the needs of people with dementia and their carers.
  4. Creating an online playbook of training approaches and advice to equip professionals and volunteers to meet the digital inclusion needs of specific vulnerable groups.
  5. Increasing the impact of community wealth building and high street recovery initiatives, through better data and technology.
  6. Tackling digital exclusion by developing a rich data picture through an innovative interactive demographic map of user needs.
  7. Creating a virtual digital hub that acts as a “one stop shop” and an innovation platform for communities and partners, hosting co-created tailored solutions and support targeted at identified resident needs.
  8. Developing and delivering new approaches of preventative support for vulnerable residents in partnership between councils and local voluntary sector organisations.

We welcome your comments and questions about these bids, which you can add directly in this document. You can also hear brief summaries of each idea in the video of our Friday Show & Tell.

Digital Access for All Mission

Digital exclusion has long been an issue of concern for London boroughs. The Covid period has increased the extent and severity of this problem. Virtually every aspect of life is now expected to be conducted online, from work to socialising, and from education to shopping. Those who are not online are more disadvantaged than ever.

We were therefore delighted to see the publication of a press release on 2 February in which the GLA announced its intention to fund LOTI just over £1million as part of the London Recovery Board’s Digital Access for All mission to make progress in three specific areas:

  1. Understanding needs: How can we identify the people and places that are digitally excluded and understand what they need?
  2. Innovating in supply: How can we maximise the provision of devices, data, skills training, funding and other sources of digital inclusion support?
  3. Connecting people with the help they need: How can we most effectively connect those in need with the devices, data, skills, funding and other sources of support they require?

If confirmed, this funding would arrive in May 2021. LOTI would work with partners across the public, private and third sectors to explore each of these questions and design a portfolio of projects to address them. Those projects are likely to involve using data to better understand the location and prevalence of digital exclusion; identifying ways to procure devices en masse more cost-effectively; and working across sectors to design new service interventions to support digitally excluded groups.

Digital Apprentices Final Event

Last week we also held our final virtual learning session for digital apprentices in collaboration with Microsoft UK. Over the past year, we have held a series of challenge and learning days for the 100+ digital apprentices working across LOTI boroughs. During this final session, LOTI’s Strategic Engagement Manager Onyeka Onyekwelu shared details of the tools and practices the LOTI team use to manage their time and work effectively from home.

While this phase of events for digital apprentices is drawing to a close, it’s certainly not the end of LOTI’s work to support boroughs with developing their digital skills and talent pool. We’ll shortly publish our plans for the coming months, which will focus on helping boroughs to develop the data skills they need.

Other bits in brief

  • Innovation in Procurement: LOTI continues to make progress in its work with three London boroughs to apply our Innovation in Procurement Toolkit to housing management. We’ll be writing an outcomes-based tender spec, and we’re keen to learn from user research from other councils’ procurement exercises. In particular, we’d love to hear from councils who are willing to share user research/needs analysis, journey mapping, etc. in the areas of Landlord / Leasehold services and Asset Management.
  • LOTI Assistive Technology Library goes live: We’ve seen a big rise in interest from boroughs in how Assistive Technologies can support residents to live more independently. Yet evidence on what works, and what doesn’t, can be hard to find. We’re therefore pleased to share our searchable library of >120 AT case studies.

Coming up this week

This week, we’ll be:

  1. Making a decision on which two projects from our Covid Innovation Fund will receive funding.
  2. Hosting a second workshop with London boroughs to explore the possibility of collaborating on specific cyber security measures.
  3. Hosting our latest all-member workshop with LOTI boroughs to bring them up to speed with our activites.

For the daily download on all things LOTI, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Eddie Copeland
8 February 2021 ·
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