In the autumn of 2015, we launched an ambitious pilot programme in St Helens, Merseyside, to tackle Britain’s digital divide. Working closely with the council, Chamber of Commerce, college and other partners, we delivered a three month programme to bring technological transformation to an entire town, including all of the businesses and people that live and work there.
Read below to find out more about the pilot, or download our full report here.
We wanted to show how digital engagement can really make a difference to a social community, and help communities across the UK to embrace digital.
Whether it’s improving connectivity, sharing skills or helping young people kick-start their career we want to share technology’s potential.
We also want to demonstrate how powerful digital and big data can be in improving the way we work, play and live our lives.
Together with St Helens Council, the British Chamber of Commerce, and the support of St Helens’ people and businesses, we hope to inspire communities everywhere to harness the power of digital.
By arming St Helens with the latest technology (everything from free wifi hotspots and superfast 4G, to the latest smartphones, tablets and other devices) we wanted to showcase how technology can transform a community, enrich lives and boost businesses.
The three month pilot reached more than 42,000 people in St Helens – nearly a quarter of the borough’s population. It helped improve the productivity of local businesses, increased people’s access to local services, and boosted young people’s confidence.
It wasn’t just about creating a feel-good factor. Research following the pilot estimates that if continued, the programme could generate an additional £46.3m for St Helens’ economy by 2020. that’s almost 11% additional growth compared with the current economic trajectory for the town.
So how did we achieve these great results?
We’ve put together a report which explains what we did and how we did it, as well as showcasing the positive feedback we gathered from key stakeholder across the project. The study also gives insight and recommendations for the future of Digital Communities, and identifies 30 similar towns where the programme could have a significant impact.
There’s huge potential – this activity could inject an additional £350m to the national economy by 2020.