Sandwell has some very unique issues, problems in some part digitalisations can aleve or even solve.
“A smart city uses digital technology to promote performance and wellbeing and to increase its
ability to respond to citywide and global challenges.” - Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
iSandwell is, in essence, a smart city thinking project in regards to it’s innovative nature however
at its heart it is a community development project that uses digital as a vehicle to create social
Because of the regions demographic, we know forcing a narrative on our community does not
work and that is why we have taken a collaborative approach to include our citizens in the building
process. To do this we have taken a community developement route and ask people what is
important to them, sometimes with a clipboard standing in one of the 6 towns.
For a “smart city”, “civic tech” or “open data” project to work in places like Sandwell, we have to
accept that our area is different and some demographics harber a distrust for digital services, but if
anything this makes digitisation projects such as this more important to ensure our citizens do not
get left behind.
Sandwell’s skill set in regards to its citizens and business infrastructure is lower than most of our
counterparts in the West Midlands. But this doesn’t mean we should be overlooking digitalisation
but to see it as a challenge to do something that is new and groundbreaking.
This is a real opportunity to build infrastructure using the best resource that Sandwell has, it’s
people. An opportunity to plant an acorn that could turn to economic growth and help to develop
Some long term outcomes for Sandwell would be:
1. Innovative business creation by installing new skill sets in the region
2. New enterprise coming to Sandwell to take advantage of upskilled workforce who are
ultimately cheaper than other areas of the UK
3. Creation of better quality jobs and retaining talent
4. Citizens managing their lives better online
5. Relieving capacity on Council services
This project goes beyond digital, it is a regional development project looking to innovation to
provide solutions and develop new services in the face of reduced public services.
iSandwell understands the best platforms to upskill the people who live in Sandwell’s
neighbourhoods is giving our voluntary organisations what they need to pass on digital skills to the
people they work with whilst also upscaling their own work to gather evidence, widen impact and
increase their chances of attracting resources.
It’s important to approach projects in a realistic manner and ensure it has the capacity to reach the
goals set out, this is why a large part of iSandwell is to train our community groups to pass on their
skills to the people they support, this is a peer to peer approach.
The project also takes a realistic and deliverable approach to project volunteers who we call
“iSandwell Digital Champions”. By installing a journalistic mentality we give people the tools and
platforms to document digital skills and projects in Sandwell, alongside this a training programme
that offers a range of transferable skills that can enhance employability.
We offer opportunities that are not available elsewhere in the Borough such as social
campaigning, creative industries and IT - More engaged Digital Champions will be stationed with
nonprofits in the region to help upscale their social media channels and mentor their digital output.
In short, anybody can become an iSandwell Digital Champion, no matter what age or skill level
and it is important it stays that way.