One of PlaceCal’s primary aims is to connect communities through the use of digital technologies. However, many people are currently excluded from the use of such technologies.
What is digital exclusion?
Digital exclusion is when people do not have access to the internet and digital technologies. The government defines it as:
Digital inclusion, or rather, reducing digital exclusion, is about making sure that people have the capability to use the internet to do things that benefit them day to day - whether they be individuals, SMEs or VCSE organisations. (Government Digital Inclusion Strategy, 2014)
Digital inclusion is about:
- Making sure people can access the technologies they need or want
- People having the right connectivity infrastructure such as access to the internet
- People having materials and resources online that actually interest them
Effects of digital exclusion
Unfortunately, the reality is that many people are suffering from digital exclusion – especially elderly people and those on low incomes.
Even 40% of working age people struggle with basic tasks like deleting emails, which is even worse for older people. 4.2 million people in the UK aged 65+ have never used the internet.
Digital exclusion of people and organisations has led directly to social exclusion. This has in turn made it very hard for organisations to cope with even day-to-day information sharing needs.
How PlaceCal tackles the problem
PlaceCal is a digital inclusion tool that raises the level of technical capability in a neighbourhood. It helps to create and support local resident-led partnerships by empowering people to work together better.
Residents in local communities can’t find out what’s going on if they’re not socially connected to start. This causes people who are already socially isolated to become even more entrenched and hard to reach. It’s not possible for such people to just “go online”.
The benefit of PlaceCal is not requiring its users to be able to use the internet, since other individuals (such as GPs) can “socially prescribe” to them. On the other hand, if individuals want to use our website, it’s easily accessible in multiple ways, such as automatically displaying in a large font.
PlaceCal is a resource that has been created directly for older people who could actively use the website on a regular basis. It’s user-friendly and accessible so users can get the most out of the platform.
From digital to spatial
PlaceCal does not exist in a digital vacuum. By being rooted in places, this gives PlaceCal staying power and motivates people to actually use it.
Our primary intended audiences for PlaceCal are communities of place. These are neighbourhood partnerships representing anything from a single tower block to a small town. These groups work because they have a ‘real world’ relationship of geographical proximity, typically up to around 6,000 people.
We are currently live in Hulme and Moss Side, and expanding to Moston. Each area has its own website with a calendar of events, updated regularly with multiple listings.