Connecting Nottingham: The technology enhancing community engagement
The UK spent £3.24 billion on community development in 2021/22.
Community engagement is key to the success of local government and enacting national policy.
Technology plays a key role in fostering community engagement. It’s easier than ever to share important planning information and ensure that people can access local services online. Businesses also benefit, both with a workforce that is happier and healthier, and able to easily access services relevant to them.
Nottingham is one of the biggest tech hubs in the UK, so it’s no surprise that this city has positioned itself at the forefront of digital community engagement. We’ve explored the ways Nottingham is boosting community engagement through technology.
The PropTech Innovation Fund was introduced in July 2021 to support the PropTech sector and accelerate technology adoption by local authorities. It aims to enhance community engagement and deliver a modern planning system.
The PropTech Innovation Fund is in its 3rd round of funding, with a total of £3.2 million given to 15 council-led projects. As the Fund is investigating a range of digital solutions to improve community engagement, the funded projects have been split into 3 cohorts. Nottingham City Council and Bradford Council received £375,000 as part of ‘Cohort 1’.
Councils in this cohort are trialling the use of 3D, 4D, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and visualisation to improve the planning process, ensuring data-driven decision-making and transparency.
The current planning system is complex. By introducing digital tools, the hope is to reduce the time and resources lost in processing and packaging consultation information and solve data analysis challenges. Displaying information in 3D models will allow for a more immersive experience when viewing projects.
Health is becoming an increasing concern as our population ages. People, particularly those who are older and less mobile, need to be able to access health services quickly and without interruption.
The Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System is a partnership of 19 organisations in the region that are collectively responsible for improving the health of local people.
Digital Notts, formerly called Connected Nottinghamshire, was created in 2013. It aims to support local populations by providing them with the skills, training and tools necessary to access digital health and care services. With the right training, they hope to empower people to better manage their health and reduce social isolation.
Their research highlighted that, historically, 30% of people used digital health and care services. In the future, this will rise to 73%. There is an increased need to develop digital services and ensure that people can easily access them.
Integrating technology into the care system will ensure that efficient digital health and care services are available from a single trusted place, allowing people to securely access the help they need. Inefficiencies, like having to repeat symptoms or medical history, will be reduced as digital services make sure that the right information is available at the right time.
The UK population is getting older. Initiatives like Digital Notts ensure that people have a better understanding of their health and better access to health services.
People need to be able to access the Internet safely. GDPR has massively improved online safety and privacy, ensuring that businesses are held to account for the sensitive data they store.
However, the digital landscape is constantly evolving. As such, the UK Government is conducting additional research to help keep people safe online and boost the digital revolution.
The Next Stage Digital Economy Centres will explore how new technologies, such as AI, 3D cameras and Blockchain can be used safely to enhance people’s lives.
UK Research and Innovation invested £29 million into the initiatives – £22 million for the Next Stage Digital Economy Centres and £7 million for a new National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence. They also hope to develop a world-first Privacy Enhancing Technologies test site to test new ways of boosting data privacy.
Nottingham University’s contribution to the project is the Horizon Institute. This will explore the use of personal data and how better consumer trust can be built with new technologies that blend physical and digital elements. An example would be exploring community participation in virtual music festivals, or using personalised digital health plans to make predictions about mental health needs.
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