Helping digitally in the time of COVID-19

Written by Robin Knowles, Founder and CEO, Digital Leaders

Those in the technology sector should be feeling that the time has come when they will see mass adoption of technology and digital behaviours. Out of necessity for sure, rather than choice, but it will transform our use of digital forever. 

In return for this unexpected and rapid move online, the sector needs to step up, being uniquely placed to now leverage that same technology for social benefit and good when we need it most. 

Companies in the Tech for Good sector are now seeing their innovations and products proving enormous value to society. One example OLIO, a food sharing and food waste avoidance App and a DigitalAgenda Impact Awards winner two years ago, is now proving its worth in a way that its founder Tessa Clarke could only have imagined. OLIO is now re-allocating food that would have otherwise gone to waste by given to the vulnerable through locally based networks. Small actions can lead to big change. You can learn more and join in here.

Others are able to pivot their existing platforms to create new services for those working from home or seeing record levels take-up of existing services. Louise Stokes, Director, Digital Leaders has written about this in her blog here.

The power of digital in all its forms has been shown by the NHS’s call to support the most vulnerable – using the power of social media and online with members of the public being able able to sign up, quickly and easily, to become NHS Volunteer Responders. Volunteers can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as: delivering medicines from pharmacies; driving patients to appointments; bringing them home from the hospital; and making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

One area which is of particular interest to me is the opportunity for the tech sector to offer support directly to the Government as it shoulders the main responsibility for leading the fight against Corona. We are fortunate to have Matt Hancock MP, a friend of Digital Leaders, and a former Digital Minister, at the head of the health and social care sector’s response at this time. Transformation needs air cover and leadership and in Matt we have someone who understands the need for and power of digital, data and innovation in tackling the corona virus crisis in the months ahead. 

What the government needs from the digital community is being communicated out to the sector. I have had several calls this week, asking us to get the Digital Leaders Community ready for action and we will share these calls with you as they arise. 

It’s a rapidly evolving situation, so the government is still working through the finer detail of the additional capacity they need in terms of staffing, but it looks like they will definitely need:

  • Data Engineers;
  • Data Analysts;
  • Performance Snalysts; and
  • Ruby Developers. 

It’s obvious there will be wider calls for support from the government. GDS are coordinating these needs across Government departments and they will be announcing them as soon as they are known.

I suspect many further needs will follow. I know as Digital Leaders you are all ready to help.


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