My wife, worked at a South Birmingham primary school and when we got talking about digital poverty and the issue of not enough data, she told me, ‘parents change their phone numbers a lot’. It seemed parents would ‘borrow’ SIM cards from friends and family and notify the school of the new number in case the school needed to contact them. A tiny example of what I call ‘shades of digital poverty’ where people will work round a situation to get a solution hidden no doubt from any of the help available to them.
In North America, NFL fans are able to order at seat food using an app. Then when the pandemic hit and stadiums were empty, the creative people running the app did a pivot and looked at food bank queues. Now people can book a food drop to their home without having to queue. A positive thing to do as it removed stigma for those queueing and created a volunteer workforce to drop off food parcel. Except that many of the people queueing for food didn’t have any digital means or know how to use the app.
Both stories are shades of the problem. You will be reading this with your own stories of how people have been creative to find ways to help themselves and others escape the digital poverty trap. The way we design solutions to resolve problems is at the heart of solving this wicked problem and will be less in the future about thinking outside the box but more thinking there is no box at all.