London councils win funding for Covid innovation

18th February 2021 Sarah Wray

The London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) has announced the two successful bids that will share its £150,000 (US$208,000) Covid Innovation Fund.

Launched in December, the fund was set up to help London boroughs work together to design and deploy measures that address Covid-related challenges.

Half the funds will go towards a project on using data to better understand digital exclusion and the other half towards a scheme to provide preventative support for vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

Eddie Copeland, Director of LOTI, said: “The two winning bids are immensely exciting project ideas with the potential to help large numbers of Londoners.

“The Covid-19 crisis has acted as a catalyst for innovative local responses using data and digital technology. Through our Covid Innovation Fund, we’re supporting boroughs to work together in developing their ideas further and securing faster progress towards our shared ambitions.”

Joined-up thinking

The project to tackle digital exclusion by developing an interactive demographic map of user needs was put forward by the councils of Barnet, Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark and Westminster. It will build on the boroughs’ work creating richer data models for better understanding the distribution and different forms of digital exclusion, including lack of affordable connectivity, skills or devices.

Newham and Hackney submitted the bid to develop new approaches to preventative support for vulnerable residents in partnership with voluntary sector organisations.

The initiative aims to help ensure residents whose vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the pandemic do not reach crisis point.

It will explore how councils can work in more joined-up ways with their local voluntary sectors to identify needs proactively and intervene early in key risk areas. This could help people facing issues such as problem debt; poor mental health when isolated; risk of eviction; and bereavement through Covid-19.

In addition to the £75,000 for each project idea, the LOTI team will provide support and share learning for all LOTI members to benefit from.

LOTI was launched in 2019 as a collaboration between London local authorities with the support of the Mayor of London. Hosted by London Councils, its aim is to help the boroughs collaborate on projects that use technology, data and innovation to improve public services in London.

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