As a social investor we're inescapably dependent on data from the organisations we support if we wish understand our own impact. They too must have their data dependencies: service-users, staff, partner organisations, open data sources or all of the above. Yet 'extracting' the data we're after from our working relationships can be tricky: we none of us enjoy filling in forms at others' behest.
What can we learn from one of our projects about how to go about it?
About 15 people came together to look at various aspects of Bristol data as part of a HackReduce session at the weekend (South West Big Data). Here’s some charts showing life expectancy at birth gathered from Open Data released by Bristol council. The data was fetched from data.bristol.gov.uk and the Python code I used to generate the charts is included as a link in the results.
“They are really interacting – and it is what should be happening – all enjoying the time that they are spending together. Residents have been involved in BBQ parties but nothing that was as effective as the Gen2Gen project.”Regional Manager
Most people involved in social investment want to know if their efforts are making a positive difference, but seeking to demonstrate attribution (linking changes observed to a specific intervention) can be far from straightforward, and might even be the wrong question to ask.
Our Digital Inclusion Through Schools (DITS) intergenerational project is based in a predominantly rural area where access to services is difficult, particularly for older people. Access to the internet can really enhance the lives of people in later life and we aim through our project to increase the number of older 'Silver Surfers' . We are working with local schools and the library service who allow us to use their facilities free of charge. The pupils at the schools become the 'Tutors' and they work on a one to one basis with the older people who are the 'Pupils.
Digital technology has already transformed how we communicate, how we work, how we learn, how we shop. At a time of accelerating climate change, a growing ageing population, persistent unemployment and increasing social inequalities, we urgently need to realise the potential of technology for social innovation. This is not simply about adding digital to existing services but making imaginative use of digital technology to fundamentally re-think - and radically reform - how we address significant social challenges.
To support the launch of our latest provocation paper, 'Can online innovations enhance social care', we are delighted to introduce a new series of blogs from the author, Shirley Ayres. As a qualified social worker and marketer, who has worked within the care sector for over 35 years, she has extensive experience of helping organisations to understand the value of digital engagement.
Over 30% of children under the age of 13 say they have a facebook profile. We know from talking to teachers and children this number is much higher. Schools are increasingly having to deal with issues which begin online, within social networking sites. The traditional approach of locking down access to the internet no longer works as children increasingly access the internet via mobile devices and in unmoderated enviroments.