Research undertaken in 2012 with the RSA revealed that some people within our local area felt connected to their community and aware of what was happening, while others were isolated and didn’t know where to find local information.
Following conversations with local people, we worked with design company Design Militia and local community groups to create a ‘local social network’ to try and bridge some of these gaps.
In 2014 we tested My Knowle West – otherwise known as MyKW – an online space where you can easily share what you’re up to with an online network of other local people. Whatever your job, activity or hobby, you can share tips, photos and inspiration with others. You can also join groups and keep up to date with what like-minded people are creating.
MyKW was a widely-used platform for networking, celebrating local successes, and raising awareness of issues affecting the community – such as access to healthy food and education – and possible local solutions. In November 2015 MyKW was nominated in the ‘Intelligent Communities’ category at the NextGen Awards 2015, which were held at the House of Lords.
Since 2014, we have offered 62 free training sessions for individuals, organisations, teachers, schoolchildren and community groups to help them use MyKW. In August 2015 there were 180 registered users, who have shared 840 photos and updates. Many local organisations incorporated the app into their work: for example, a youth charity used MyKW to chart its fundraising efforts while a cookery project advertised their summer classes for children and received lots of enquiries.
Like many social media channels, MyKW is an online community of like-minded individuals. But while traditional social networks may only link you to existing contacts, MyKW brought people together who might not usually know each other, in order to discover new things and with the shared aim of facilitating positive social action.
My Knowle West is one of five apps developed for the city through the IES Cities project. IES Cities ran from 2013-2016, working in four cities in Italy, Spain and the UK to explore how people can use digital technologies and apps to identify and address issues in their area.
Our 'local social network' My Knowle West was nominated for an award at this year's Next Gen digital awards. The app, which enables people to share photos and updates about positive activities happening in their area, was shortlisted alongside five other finalists in the 'Intelligent Communities' category. On 5th November, members of the KWMC team traveled down to London for...