Tech for Good Brighton — One Year In

David Scurr presents at the special ‘Meaning Conference’ edition of Tech for Good Brighton.

It’s been over a year since we launched the new Tech for Good Brighton meetup. And what a year it’s been! A few months into it and we quickly got excited by the potential of this new busy collaborative space — a collective of people with different perspectives, cross-pollinating and exploring how tech could be harnessed to help tackle some of our greater societal challenges.

We’ve been reflecting on the past year and are happy to share some of our highlights…

Tech for Good Brighton — how’s it going?

  • We’ve collaborated with Clearleft (who generously host most of our events), Brighton Digital Festival, Platf9rm and Meaning Conference to curate special ‘festival’ editions of Tech for Good Brighton.
  • We’ve tried out different formats including co-designed and collaborative sessions, talks and panels, workshops and action learning set-type sessions and of course, networking and playing table tennis in a pub! We facilitated our sessions with a bit of our own ‘tech for good’, the interactive tool Mentimeter which has meant plenty of live polling, digital quizzes and real-time data capture.
  • 685 members have joined the meetup space and 125 joined our Tech for Good Brighton Slack workspace. At some point last year, we became the fastest growing Tech for Good community in the UK.
  • We’ve worked as part of a wider network and aligned our activities with the Digital Brighton & Hove partnership led by Citizens Online with support from Community Works, Brighton & Hove City Council and CAST.
  • We’ve collaborated with the Netsquared Global Network and the wider Tech for Good community via Bristol, Bath, London, Manchester and Scotland.

Some feedback…why do we exist, again?

Tech for Good Brighton always started as a bit of an experiment. The first year served as a test to gauge whether or not local groups and businesses were interested in engaging with some of these issues. And it’s been great to see this collaborative space grow with curious people from different sectors keen to connect and learn, and hopefully get inspired along the way.

Based on the responses we received from our feedback surveys, the top three reasons why people signed up to our events were:

  1. To make new connections and network
  2. To learn something new
  3. To share skills to support social impact projects.

We also asked attendees how they had benefited from the meetups and were encouraged by these tangible examples: meeting new charities to support, sharing new digital skills, accessing funding and training opportunities, being introduced to new helpful organisations, raising awareness of disability and accessibility, being prompted to think about how to use tech more responsibly.

We’ve always tried to steer clear of the notion that tech on its own can be the solution. The local social focus which has underpinned most of our sessions has been crucial in reminding us all that at the heart of both questions and potential solutions — tech-led or otherwise —are customers/users/clients…people.

What’s next?

A Tech for Good Breakfast Club!

Now that we have a core group of enthusiastic ‘techies’ and ‘goodies’, wouldn’t it be great to actually do something more tangible with it?

Our inaugural Tech for Good Breakfast Club will bring brilliant people together to share and learn from one another. Think ‘digital surgery’ style session but with a local social purpose. We’ll facilitate some matchmaking between those working in the social impact space and Digital Champions from the tech sector keen to share their digital expertise. Big thanks to Clearleft, BrightMinded, Creative Bloom, Let’s Talk Video Production, Creative Blend, Diversity & Ability and Hyve Managed Hosting for taking part in this first edition.

Beyond that, a series of themes have also been suggested for future sessions based on our feedback surveys: AI for Good, VR, loneliness, diversity & digital to name but a few. Great suggestions. But we need your help to make them happen.

By collaborating even more, we want to consistently build on our learning so that every event is inspiring, thought-provoking and practical. And we’re keen to bring some new voices in to help shape and curate our 2020 programme of activities, as well as develop this space into something truly exciting for Brighton (and beyond).

If this sounds like something you want to get involved in, please get in touch with me either through our Meetup page, our Slack workspace or on Twitter. And if you just want to share some thoughts and feedback, that’s great too — just dot them down in our survey!