Funded by: Higher Education Innovation Fund

Principal Investigators: Professor Jackie O’Reilly Co-Director for the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre and Professor of Comparative Human Resource Management, University of Sussex, Dr Becky Faith, Digit Co-lead and Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies and Kevin Hernandez, Digit Co-lead and Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies.

In partnership with Digital Brighton and Hove

From patients accessing health services through telemedicine to school children only being able attend classes through remote learning, the rapid digitization of services and activities across social and economic life during the COVID-19 pandemic (especially in its early months) provided us a snapshot of what a hyper-digital world might look at.

These rapid changes come at a time when access to digital technology and skills are not equally distributed. 1 in 5 adults in Brighton and Hove are at risk of being left behind as essential services are moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Service providers and community organisations face huge challenges in rapidly moving to digital service delivery for the digitally disconnected including the homeless, refugees, BAME communities, people with mental health issues and other low-income groups.

  • Are existing inequalities amplified by the digitisation of job seeking and access to benefits during COVID-19, and the removal of existing offline support mechanisms?
  • What impact does access to technology have on job seeking and access to benefits?

The project will provide 15 tablet computers to enable co-investigation with community organisations and beneficiary groups of responses during the pandemic. These tablets are being distributed, and supplement those already available, through the Covid-19 Tablet Loan scheme of Digital Brighton and Hove.

This co-produced knowledge, with Digital Brighton and Hove, a cross-sector partnership bringing together over 250 organisations, will contribute to understanding how to create a more digitally confident city based on the accelerated experiences of limited digital connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.