The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting all areas of life in many and substantial ways, the GMCA Digital Portfolio have been working identifying ways digital technologies can be used to improve people’s lives across Greater Manchester. This has not only included new innovations but assessing the possibility of bringing forward priorities identified in the GM Digital Blueprint.  

The blueprint sets out the next chapter in our ambition to be recognised as a world-leading digital city region, with an ongoing commitment to taking an open, innovative and connective approach to delivering that ambition.  

We remain committed to being a digital city-region with a difference. By putting people at the heart of our plans we aim for a more inclusive approach that builds on our greatest asset. 

Community Hub Volunteer Application 

During Covid-19 there has been a growing number of people across Greater Manchester volunteering their time to help in response to growing humanitarian needs. This increase in volunteer numbers has brought a heightened requirement to more effectively coordinate volunteer activity across the region, understand need and demand more clearly in real time and appropriately and effectively match volunteers with Community Hub activity.  

 The Community Hub Volunteer application developed by Bury Council with ANS and Microsoft with support from the GMCA was set up to solve these problems. The application provides a platform that all parties involved in logging, assigning and volunteering can access, helping to coordinate contact between centres, Hub Managers and volunteers. The application also helps to collect the required information to match appropriate support to citizen need.  

The application is now live in Bury and is being used by the council to manage calls from vulnerable people in the need of assistance. You read more about this here 

 Email GMCAdigital@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk to rapidly deploy the app in your locality. 

The Community Hub Volunteer app sits on the Greater Manchester Digital Platform.  

The Digital Platform provides the infrastructure that can be rapidly adopted in other priority areas to drive improvements in the health and wealth of Greater Manchester’s 2.8m citizens, whether this is in health, care or the wider public sector.  We’re already looking at how it can be applied in Victim Support, Homelessness and other important areas of health. 

The Greater Manchester Technology Fund

The Greater Manchester Technology Fund provides schools and colleges with the technology needed in ‘at-home’ settings to continue their learning. The fund will reach and support the most vulnerable young people and their families across the region. 

The new Technology Fund aims to provide learners at risk of digital isolation with the technology and connectivity needed to continue their learning at home while schools and colleges remain closed.  It is estimated that levels of digital exclusion are up to four times higher amongst those schools with the highest level of pupils eligible for a free school meal, with 19% of pupils in Greater Manchester claiming free school meals. Provision of this kit will initially focus on recipients of free school meals, allowing these young people to continue their education from home, stay in touch with friends and family and provides teachers and tutors with a mechanism for support. 

Read more here

Greater Manchester Cyber Safety Campaign 

In the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has detected more UK government branded scams relating to Covid-19 than any other subject. Law enforcement, government and private sectors partners are working together to encourage members of the public to be more vigilant against fraud, particularly about sharing their financial and personal information, as criminals seek to capitalise on the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The GMCA are sharing useful resources to raise awareness of the increasing online risks due to COVID-19 amongst residents and are providing practical advice on staying safe online. 

The Greater Manchester Growth Company are leading on the delivery of communications on cyber-crime messaging and support for the business community. For more information please click here 

Capping phone charges for older residents 

Mayor of Greater Manchester and Digital City-Region lead Elise Wilson, wrote to government and telecoms chiefs asking them to cap phone charges for over-75s across all providers and provide assistance for low-income households.  You can read more about this here