andy cox
Rebecca Wayman

Digital Union member creates 'revolutionary' product to combat North East poverty

Having successfully piloted its product, the founders of an online service to combat poverty has said it is ready to take off as it sets its sights on national and EU-wide expansion.

Founded by Gateshead’s Digital Union member, Transmit Enterprise, who are working with partners to tackle social challenges, SIGNAL is to look to fulfil its ambition to enable households nationwide to assess their levels of poverty to combat on-going deprivation.

Led by the directorship of Robert Webb and Andy Cox - and inspired by Martin Burt’s Poverty Stoplight in Paraguay - the new UK service will help the organisation better understand the needs of people in their communities and help them tailor their services.

Robert Webb explained: “Poverty affects every person differently, whether they are living in a family home, in care, or are homeless.

“As a tech product, SIGNAL sits well with the innovative work coming out of the digital sector in the region. It is appropriate that we should put our efforts into tackling poverty in a region which is still struggling to close the gap with the rest of the UK…

“It’s been a long time in development but now that we have our first customers, a new version of SIGNAL, a new website and a full team we can feel the momentum building fast. We’re ready to blast off.

“Being a part of Digital Union has helped us make inroads and connections to really get this pilot off the ground.”

Robert Webb.

Using a web-based methodology or app, individuals and households take a visual survey to produce a poverty map that allows them to see the details of their poverty on a dashboard.

Participants select images, categorised as red, yellow or green, that resemble their reality for each poverty indicator.

Through its geo-tagging capabilities, the app can then generate poverty maps for entire communities which allows stakeholders to make targeted efforts and to better channel resources in a joint effort to eliminate poverty.

SIGNAL’s pilot phase has seen the product being adopted by various housing companies and several voluntary sector organisations such as Citizens Advice Newcastle and Riverside Community Health Project.

Webb and Cox are currently talking to 30 business partners from the public, housing, education and voluntary Sectors in the region to take in-depth surveys to build a rich analysis of specific and urgent needs.

SIGNAL’s co-founder, Andy Cox, added: “We hold a licence to operate in the UK, and once we have consolidated our position in the North East, we intend to roll out SIGNAL throughout the UK and the EU.

“We have excellent links in Ireland, Spain and Estonia and have already started preliminary discussions with partners in those countries.

“In the short term, we will continue to deliver our contracts in the North East and continue to build new and consolidate existing relationships with the likes of Newcastle and Northumbria’s universities.

“We are on track to be working with 40 organisations by the end of the year.”

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