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Maps, apps and storytelling - locally and strategically

Summary: an exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age, with Age Action Alliance, has led to plans for local Living Labs, and a Digital Age Learning Network. In order to develop the network we need to map who's who in the field, the experience and resources that they may offer - and how to relate that to major challenges. David Wilcox and Drew Mackie This paper is at

Living Well in the Digital Age exploration

Over the past eight months we have carried out an exploration with the AAA Digital Inclusion Group to show how developments in technology present both challenges and opportunities for older people, once they are connected. We’ve developed:

  • Practical ideas for local Living Labs
  • Papers highlighting key topics for policy-makers and funders
  • Plans for a cross-topic Digital Age network to take the ideas forward


  • The good news: Network technologies offer opportunities to build stronger communities, develop and extend relationships, use personal technology to help manage our health. People are using their phones, tablets - as well as computers - to do just that.
  • The challenge: our exploration, and a symposium convened by South East England Forum on Ageing, confirmed that many organisations in the ageing industry are culturally and technically under-equipped to take advantage of the opportunities, with no leadership in the broader adoption and application of digital technology.
  • The opportunity: firstly, networked approaches, enabled by digital tech, are particularly relevant to key ageing issues like health and social isolation when linked to asset based community development. Secondly, AAA could release more of its own assets by networking effectively.

    ### Local Living Labs

The Promising Approaches report from Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness suggests identifying and connecting local assets, building relationships, developing a menu of project options, and personalising solutions. Our Living Labs model provides a practical approach to putting those proposals into practice. The Labs Kit will include methods for:

  • Mapping local assets and networks, who knows who, and who may work with who
  • Using maps to explore how people’s networks and relationships change during their lifetime, and how people can connect with support services and local initiatives
  • Using personas and storyboards in co-design workshops
  • Developing a menu of technical apps and projects ideas to support local work and use resources revealed by mapping

Asset map of Croydon, under development

We are piloting some of these methods with Croydon Voluntary Action, and have run games and simulations testing the approach with Age UK London, Southwark Council, Local Government Information Unit and others. We ran a joint workshop with the DCLG Grey Cells initiative.

At the recent AAA Loneliness and Social Isolation Group we explained our work on Living Labs, a kit for local pilots, and network development. Presentation here

Identifying key policy issues, developing ideas

During the exploration we developed blog posts and briefing papers on the importance of digital technology and new ways of working at policy, local and personal levels. We are discussing with the Centre for Ageing Better how they might bring more on digital technology into their future plans.

We also developed an ideas forum, and demonstrated how ideas could be generated …

… then mapped and clustered

An opportunity

Our exploration - and a symposium convened by SEEFA - confirmed that current approaches within the ageing industry are unlikely to offer to older people the full potential of the Digital Age. We found:

  • Substantial cultural barriers in the ageing industry to the adoption of digital technology and innovative approaches
  • Innovative projects demonstrating the potential - but unknown on the front line - with research being duplicated, reports failing to be adopted
  • Low levels of adoption of new communication methods within and across organisations, with the result that organisations and professions work ineffectively and in silos.
  • At the same time, growing adoption of personal technology by older people, often supported by friends and families

After discussion with the AAA secretariat we have agreed an approach that would mirror at national level the asset-based approach that is being developed locally:

  • Setting up a cross-topic Digital Age group that would operate as a virtual learning network
  • Mapping resources within AAA, to see who may offer assets, and who will share
  • Using the network as a way for people to understand and use the technologies, and identifying the potential for projects

We can start that mapping today!


livingwell/adagroup.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 15:20 (external edit)