Sheffield has a communicative and pro-active tech community thanks to its various innovative digital tech businesses and membership-backed organisation, Sheffield Digital
In addition to helping their own sector workers in the city, they’re also providing external support to businesses and consumers – everything from monitoring changes in road traffic to help insurers, to providing free educational resources for parents and developing software to aid Covid-19 volunteering efforts. We’ve taken a look at some of them, below.
For more coronavirus support resources, see our Coronavirus Info Hub, frequent diary updates, and national examples of business support.
In response to the outbreak of coronavirus, educational publisher (and Tech Nation Future Fifty 8.0 company) Twinkl has provided free access to all of its teaching and learning materials to support teachers, parents and carers as schools closed globally.
Twinkl has also offered support locally through its business accelerator TwinklHive. The Hive’s Innovation Lab service is providing advice and consultancy to local businesses across Sheffield that are looking for help to adapt to the current circumstances. The in-house team are offering a one-hour consultation session to provide fast and cheap solutions to help hard-earned businesses through this unprecedented time. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheffield Digital have invested in online infrastructure to support the tech community to collaborate despite the crisis, ensuring that city meet-ups and events continue taking place online. As these are now online, this has supported speakers and attendees from outside the region, allowing networks to grow and higher profile speakers better support the tech sector in this time.
The organisation are also encouraging firms and individuals to help with the pandemic with examples of success including the “DonateYour.Tech” initiative, a Sheffield tech community effort to design and build a platform that makes it easier to donate computer equipment (including laptops, tablets and phones) to community and mutual aid groups. They can then distribute them to people who need them, and by including service centres in the process any items are professionally prepared for use before being sent.
Started by a handful of designers and developers in their spare time – including Saul Cozens, Mark Marsh and Matthew Ryall, and Sheffield Digital’s Chris Dymond – it’s a few weeks away from having a working version for the first release.
Tribepad and others
Sheffield Digital member Tribepad have created a customised instance of their recruitment software for Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS), the organisation at the centre of the mass Covid-19 volunteering effort in the city. The partnership came about following an introduction from the Sheffield Covid-19 Business Response Group.
The software, which is accessed through the VAS website, enables volunteers to register and upload any necessary documents (such as a driver’s license or CAB check). Charities looking for help can easily search and match available volunteers to the roles they need to fill. This is helping VAS to manage the huge influx of volunteers and increased demand from charities due to Covid-19.
Future Fifty 3.0 alumnus The Floow adapted quickly to the changes which were put in place across the UK as a result of the pandemic. Many of their 130 staff already worked remotely, allowing a seamless move to full remote working. As a result, it has been business as usual in many ways for the company, despite the challenging circumstances.
Over this period, they have been monitoring mobility to understand changing travel behaviours. These insights have proved to be beneficial to many areas of the insurance industry, as well as governments and research bodies, helping them organise responses to the various lockdowns put in place and understand its impact both immediately and in the future.
Additionally, the company have also been supporting newly-launched mobility services, built and released in response to Covid-19, providing NHS staff, key workers and volunteers with access to free loan vehicles from members of their local community, so they can get where they need to and support delivery of key supplies, including medicines and food.
The Floow’s insights have also helped to inform insurance organisations across the globe on changing risk levels, allowing policyholders to access refunds from their insurer for lower than expected risk levels, where this has been the case. The company says that this has seen significant funds returned to policyholders across several continents.
Traffic management organisations have also been supported by helping to fill data gaps which threatened projects due to the inability to survey normal road usage when under lockdown, and replacing this with remote. For more information, contact Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder Sam Chapman.
3Squared, a SaaS and digital services provider to the railway and constructions sectors, is playing a crucial role in a national effort to help keep the UK’s railways running in response to a call by Railways Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.
Externally, the company have lifted license restrictions from their RailSmart collaboration tools, allowing better communication from the front-line to control centres and depots in real-time to help key workers, essential goods and rail vehicles move freely. This also helps rail freight and passenger customers provide their essential services as efficiently as possible.
Internally, 3Squared have addressed the technical and wellbeing needs of its workers by offering flexible full remote working. In addition, their HR department have rolled out health and wellbeing support tools that allow staff to check in on people across the company. It has done so while managing a “demanding” recruitment drive, seeing the company appoint five new starters – from project managers to new graduate scheme placements in the last two weeks alone.