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On Wednesday 3 March 2010 I attended the inspiring launch of Apps for Good in Tulse Hill, Lambeth, South London.
Apps for Good is a project that will provide an environment for young people in the community to analyse issues that effect their lives and then design and develop digital applications to improve their reality.
The program is being run by CDI Europe based on techniques developed over the last 15 years. CDI started in deprived communities in Rio de Janeiro and now has hundreds of centres across South America, the Middle East, North Africa and now Europe, and is planning to expand into southern Africa and India.
The project is expected to have multiple beneficial effects:
- The availability of useful applications relevant to the needs of the local community.
- Increased understanding of the issues that effect young people and the wider community.
- Encourage the use of information technology within the community by demonstrating the benefits and thereby increase digital inclusion.
- The participants will gain transferable skills related to working in groups, working in projects, analysis, design, development and promotion of solutions.
- Improve the self awareness and motivation of the participants.
- Proof that the process works in the UK environment with the intent that it will be replicated in other centres across the UK and Europe.
I am excited by this project because I recognise the importance of digital technology to the UK and the need to ensure that young people are enthused and involved. On a personal level I realise that, as I move into retirement, the quality of my life will become dependent on both younger people around me and the innovative and effective use of technology.
As my regular readers will know my main interest is in accessibility: computing for people with disabilities. I see Apps for Good having the potential to address issues in this area in two ways. Either the young people will recognise the issue of digital exclusion of people with disabilities (along with the elderly, or people whose first language is not English) and create applications to help them. Or centres will be set up specifically for people with disabilities to create their own solutions. This has already happened in South America.
Congratulations and good luck to everyone involved in the instigation and running of this project:
- High Trees Development Trust in Tulse Hill, South London where the first UK centre is housed.
- CDI Europe who provide the knowledge and skills in running similar projects.
- Dell YouthConnect that supplied the computers and some professional support.
If this first pilot in High Trees goes welland I am convinced that it willthen there will be a demand and a desire to replicate it rapidly around the UK and other European countries. I urge everyone in the British ICT community to think how they could support this initiative: by providing equipment or volunteers to help with the project, but also thinking how they can provide support to the young people to build on the skills and solutions they have developed.