Students showcase strategies to tackle digital poverty

Student Chloe Hargreaves delivers her winning pitch

Students from the University of Liverpool’s School of Law and Social Justice have proposed innovative solutions to reduce digital inequality across the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

As part of their first-year social research methods module, students from the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology have been working in teams to propose solutions to tackle digital poverty in the Liverpool City Region and across the Northwest.  Students have been utilising academic research skills and working with data on digital inclusion provided by project partners, LCR Civic Data Co-operative and the LCR Combined Authority.

During a Live Pitch and Celebration event at the Hope Street Hotel on Wednesday 1 May, student teams showcased their ideas for an innovative product, service, or initiative to reduce digital inequalities within the LCR.

They pitched their solutions to a prestigious judging panel of academic and industry experts from across different disciplines including Dr Gemma Ahearne (Criminology), Chantelle Murphy (LCR Civic Data Co-operative), Rob Benson (LCR Combined Authority), Professor Simeon Yates (Communication and Media) and Professor Callum Semple (Child Health).

In a thrilling process each team of students pitched for 5 minutes and spent 10 minutes answering questions from the panel on a range of ideas including how to improve inclusion for over 75s, community hubs for low-income families, inclusion for the homeless and opportunities for art and creativity with technology.

The winning pitch selected by the panel was delivered by Chloe Hargreaves who proposed ‘Let’s Connect’ community hubs located around the City Region, staffed by University of Liverpool volunteers, who to help support families as they develop their digital skills together. Chloe’s proposal, based on robust analysis of datasets, was considered by the panel to address a clear gap in the market and be the most viable for development.

Chloe will now have the chance to undertake a work placement within Liverpool City Region Combined Authority where she will be able to build on the skills she developed during the module.

Module leader Dr Gemma Ahearne said: “I was really proud of all of our students who pitched so eloquently today and answered some tricky questions form our panel of experts.

“It’s always really important for our students to connect what they learn in the classroom to real-world challenges and that’s why it was great that they could get involved in offering solutions to the digital inclusion challenge and have the chance to pitch to change makers in the region.

“I’d like to thank colleagues from LCR Civic Data Co-operative, LCR Combined Authority, the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, the University Library, Money and Guidance Team, Student Support and Experience Team and the University of Liverpool Careers and Employability Service for making this challenge possible.”