I’ve come to the point in my journey where I have to pull the elements together and lock in a direction. I can’t keep avoiding the question any longer.
It’s interesting considering projects using technology at scale in the community sector. Firstly, you can have ideas and ideas are great, but finding funding or a starting point is the tricky part. The struggle in this sector is one that people have lamented for years, funding is tight, it’s confined to need, and you have to continually downgrade your community to show why it’s the most desperate, the most depraved and then most “at risk”. It’s why I’ve never worked in the sector, but rather alongside it.
It means that innovation is slow going. Yes I have ideas, but I’ve spoken to so, so many people whose ideas, innovation, and impact far outstrips mine. What if they were given funding to do exactly what their years of experience, insight and perspective taught them?
Technology and the push to be data driven (for cost saving not good policy) is leading to this perverse smoke screen that data, an app or a hackathon is going to create actual change. Now process wise, and learning, and connecting people to technology, those are lofty, positive and important outcomes; I’m not denigrating that for a moment. But there will be no app that solves homelessness that makes up for the fact that we are simply not building enough roofs to put over people's heads, that we sold off public housing stock for profit, and our cities are manically unaffordable.
Actually, the one website that might make a difference would be a housing doom site that ticks over with the number of homeless, that puts up pictures and profiles of the policy makers that let it be so, and that shamed every NIMBY community, council and consortium that stood in the way of affordable housing projects in communities. I will absolutely give anyone who wants to build this technical guidance and tools on getting started.
Technology provides the ability to be transparent, to work across networks, cities, countries and communities, and to share and replicate information, learning, and projects at a rapid pace. Unlocking this is not a technical issue, it’s about how we as humans, as organisations, as people in power and with the power and the knowledge share and enable.
Citizens empowered by technology get to shine the light on this. That’s our job. We built the internet. It doesn’t have to be a stagnating pool content for conversion, or organisations with no vision, or one stop sites that erode local industries.
Go hard, sell out, or stagnate. All legitimate life options right? Decisions are tough.