E RADAR has partnered with the Digital Policy Alliance (DPA) in an EU Commission-funded initiative looking at how local rural communities can learn to use the Internet and modern technology to take full advantage of the global high growth digital economy.
The initiative, called DigiChampz, aims to seek out local digital champions who can act as professional mentors and points of contact for a diverse range of groups, organisations and individuals. They will offer help, advice, experience and best practice on everything 'digital'. This might include assistance to farmers required to complete statutory forms online, the local Women's Institute needing a new website, SOHO (small office/home office) businesses looking for ways to boost their online presence, health centres managing patient records, students looking to make their money go further and libraries facing closure and needing to diversify.
DigiChampz Initiative in Rural Yorkshire
Rural Yorkshire will provide the case study for the DigiChampz initiative. The DPA, in partnership with E RADAR, will examine where EU digital policies are succeeding in local communities, where they are not, and what can be done to plug the gaps. The initiative will look for examples of best practice at all levels within the local community in order to identify and leverage them. It will also address the challenges and issues such as internet accessibility, poor take-up, gaps in e-skills, fears over security and trust, and a basic reluctance by some to use online technologies.
The first phase of the DigiChampz initiative will begin with a survey circulated to a broad cross section of local community groups, businesses and organisations in South Kirklees during November 2014.
Lord Erroll, Chair of the Digital Policy Alliance, responding to the announcement said:
“If we're going to help and teach people how to take advantage of the new online opportunities we need to understand how they think and what they really need.”
“We all know of people who have the knack of getting the best use from ICT whether in their jobs or in their leisure activities. Whether it's the workplace or the village choral society, these people are natural “have-a-go” digital heroes to whom people are attracted to for advice."
“Our DigiChampz initiative aims to identify a structure for bringing together these local digital champions across one community in Yorkshire to accelerate the spread of best practice."
“We will then look to use this experience to encourage similar initiatives across the UK and Europe. MPs should use the DigiChampz initiative to encourage and support motivated people within their constituencies.”
Will Roebuck, E RADAR's CEO said:
"People in Yorkshire are enterprising, who work hard and care about the communities in which they live. They also have a 'can do' attitude and are willing to help each other. This is why the rural South Pennines is the perfect case study for identifying local champions who can enable community groups, businesses and citizens get the most out of the digital economy."
For further information please visit the DigiChampz website www.digichampz.com