In preparation for Digital Society 2017, we met up with Bella Combest, Head of Community & COO of Street Change UK to discuss how digital technology is changing our lives for better and for worse.
FS: Tell us about Street Change UK
B: Street Change is a social giving platform that is aimed to combat homelessness and poverty across the UK. We use digital technology for people to tell their stories and request items, things that they would like to help improve the quality of life that they have. Then we work with community partners and crisis organisations and other non – profits within a community to channel community funds into a direct entrance approach where people can donate online to those who are struggling or in need of some assistance.
FS: How is digital technology relevant to tackling inequality?
B: Inequality is largely based on the fact that people have certain access to resources more than other people do. So I think with technology in general you are allowing more and more of the insemination of knowledge as well as opportunity. With a platform being created like the internet where people can speak their minds and connect with politicians, manage their money, connect with people all over the world and share ideas, that in and of itself is giving power to the general public more than it has ever before.
FS:What is a Digital Society?
B: Digital Society has a lot of different meanings. One is that it is involved in every aspect of our lives. It affects our relationships to how we do business, to how we manage our money to how we do politics. Once our society has been built on a foundational technological revolution then I think it can be considered a digital society.
FS: History shows that technical innovation disrupts the labour market. By 2030, 30% of jobs will be automated. How can Scotland turn this into an opportunity?
B: Like you said, history shows. We are not all out of jobs now because 10 years ago the internet happened. A lot of jobs become automated but it also opens the door for other types of jobs to happen.
FS: In your opinion what technological advancement has had the biggest impact on our society?
B: I think social media. It’s changed that we do marketing, the way we engage with each other and relationships, the way we are consumers. I think social media has changed the way we interact with our opinions, the opinions of others I think we are now doomed to engage with digital personas, in a way that can be really beneficial but also really detrimental because we all like to promote an image of how we want to be seen to the world. And once we buy into that there is a lot of malcontent that is born because we believe everyone else has it better than us, or that we should have this or should have that. So, in a way social media on it most negative side has turned us into a more and more unhappy society.
Find out more about how you can donate or work with Street Change to help fight urban poverty in your community here.
Digital Society 2017: Digital solutions to reducing poverty and tackling inequality in Scotland will be taking place on Thursday 5th October at The Lighthouse, Glasgow. You can buy your tickets here.