Upcycling and sourcing devices

Helping London’s public sector organisations maximise the number of devices to benefit digitally excluded Londoners.

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Status: Completed


This project was part of LOTI’s Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme, which aims to use innovative methods to design and scale initiatives that support digitally excluded Londoners who have been left particularly vulnerable during the Covid pandemic.

The aim of this project was to help boroughs tackle device poverty by maximising the number of devices available to digitally excluded residents. The following two areas were priorotised.

1.Device Upcycling

The aim of the project was to explore how we can encourage and help London’s public sector organisations to upcycle their retired devices to benefit digitally excluded Londoners.

The lack of a device has been reported as one of the major contributing factors to digital exclusion. Yet, with regular IT equipment refresh cycles in most organisations, including the public sector, there is a massive opportunity to meet at least part of the need by repurposing retired devices.

Even when retired devices are available the process isn’t easy. For many public sector organisations, the concept of device upcycling at scale is new. Some are apprehensive about sharing their old devices due to concerns about data security and cost.

By working with boroughs and other partner organisations, we’re seeking to reduce the barriers to the upcycling of retired devices by providing by demystifying the process and providing practical advice and guidance.

2. Sourcing devices

The aim of the project is to help boroughs maximise the number of devices available to digitally excluded residents by leveraging relationships with boroughs’ key partners.

Upcycling of retired devices remains one of the options available except when large volumes simply aren’t available to meet local demand. Our device upcycling work revealed that boroughs often lack large volumes of retired / disused devices because their IT equipment refresh cycles run every few years.



Guide to Sourcing Digital Devices

This toolkit takes key learnings from the way several organisations have recently sourced digital devices for local residents and provides advice if you wish to set up a similar scheme.

Guide to Upcycling Retired Digital Devices

This toolkit takes takes key learnings from current device upcycling schemes and provides advice for London councils and other organisations that wish to set up similar schemes.

Project Timeline

LOTI Guide To Sourcing Digital Devices

Sourcing devices guidance

A step-by-step tool outlining key steps and recommendations to using crowdsourcing and crowdfunding as ways for sourcing digital devices. It is a draft document that LOTI will be finalising in the next few weeks.


Device upcycling guidance

This is the first draft of our practical guide, taking boroughs through each step of the process of upcycling their devices, highlighting pain points and recommending key actions.

DIIP LOTI Guide To Upcycling Retired Devices
Summary Notes Device Upcycling Workshop 27 07 2021


Device upcycling workshop with the Pan-London Digital Inclusion Working Group

A joint workshop with the Pan-London Digital Inclusion Working Group to explore boroughs’ experience with device upcycling / provision and ways in which LOTI can support.

Device Upcycling Research

A report on the device upcycling practices in London’s public sector and the capacity of the upcycling market, conducted by Ruth Puttick, on behalf of LOTI and Nominet.

Device Upcycling Research

Project Kick-off

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