Project Outline


This article laid out the initial appraoch and plan for the JoinedUpDigital project - Paddy Hanrahan




In my article looking at take up of digital by older groups I highlighted that there are many more barriers than simply lack of digital skills. In order to examine these barriers in more detail, and look for solutions, we need a model that also helps us explore the 'digital supply chain' from innovators and app providers down to individuals. On the demand side, we need to understand more deeply how digital technology may be useful to different people, and fit into their lives.


Digital presents people in later life with potential benefits, but also a lot of disbenefits if they and/or those around them are unable to cope with the changing environment driven by tech.


We believe that there is no shortage of supply out there: in terms of innovation, excellent products & services, and organisations trying to improve lives. And there is also potentially huge demand: older consumers who would benefit from access to and use of digital. That is not to say all people in later life want to use digital, we know that is not true - more that they could benefit from many digital products and services available, even if that access were 'indirect' through close contacts like family, friends, carers, local groups and services.


The working theory of this project, 'Joined Up Digital', is that we could address barriers on the one hand by finding & fixing the gaps in the digital supply chain, and on the other hand by tailoring any offer of technology to be more personalised. Achieving this requires more than the development of technology products and services. As well as the excellent work of digital inclusion organisations providing support and training to individuals, we need to help organisations and groups who interact with people in later life to understand the potential of digital technology, use it more effectively, and help others. Without that greater understanding and adoption, particularly at local level, the supply chains will remain blocked, and people will not be as well-served. Understanding the realities of people's lives, and the communities in which they live, will help those developing products and services to make a great contribution in this market.


Overall Ambition


More people in later life enjoy the benefits of digital products and services.


Project Goals


By the end of the initial project (end of June 2016), we hope to have achieved the following goals:


Organisations and individuals who share our overall ambition, from across all sectors, come together to work on finding solutions

A number of digital supply chain examples mapped out showing how they are broken today but how they can be fixed (and transformed) and the benefits that would bring to individuals

An open framework and toolkit created as a legacy from the project any organisation can pick up and use

A longer term, funded follow-on project with a coalition of partners to deploy the approach and apply some of the solutions explored in the simulation nationally and locally

Please reload



We will use network mapping to help draw out and develop our 'digital supply chain' scenarios, and show how digital technology can better reach and benefit individuals.


We envisage that the 'digital supply chains' could look something like the example in the picture below. In this mocked-up example we show 3 phases in development of a digital supply chain:


  1. How it looks today, in part broken where individuals - as represented by our Personas developed for our simulation - are not being reached by a given product

  2. How it could look 'tomorrow' if we were to identify other organisations that can form the link down through community assets to the individual

  3. How it could be transformed in the future, with use of new services or platforms to ensure maximum number of individuals are reached and get the benefits on offer.

Build our simulation (March)

We create a model of a community, with fictitious but realistic personas of individuals, family and friends, and profiles of the groups and organisations that touch their lives, the expertise and other assets that they hold. In doing we draw on Ageing Better's Later Life in 2015 research. This model will be the testbed for simulations to refine our ideas with a range of collaborators, and the basis for a package that will help local groups, residents and organisations explore the potential of digital technology. Our approach will be to co-design possible solutions.

Bring on project stakeholders (March-May)

We will invite organisations we know in the field to participate in our coalition, and will be open to any organisation or individual which approaches us wishing to contribute. See more info in the Partners section below.

Develop Framework and toolkit (March-June)

We will develop an open framework for how the Personas, community asset maps and digital supply chain scenarios will first be used in the May workshop event, and also in the form of a DIY toolkit for other organisations to pick up and use.

Compile tech catalogue (March-May)

We aim to compile a list of apps, tools, and other digital products and services that could provide benefits to older age groups. This will be used in the simulation, and will also help the project identify technologies with great potential, and we can invite the companies to join us for mapping and games at our workshop event.

Workshop event (May)

A key step in the project will be convening all of the project stakeholders to a workshop event on 18th May. The aim of the event is to explore the significance of digital technology for those in later life and their communities, and how best to realise the benefits. We will bring together people from across the digital supply chain to connect, share their challenges, and co-design solutions. We will share and develop network maps and examples of supply chains, and employ various games to test out situations and co-create new solutions.

Share results (May-June)

Rather than create another research report that few people read we will look to get the results of our information out as digital stories, out through various channels available to the organisations involved (e.g. Websites, Twitter, Slack). Depending on success we may also get some media coverage.

Project Extension Options (June)

We will collate options to see how the work started in this project can be continued. This could be in the form of an informal network that keeps the idea 'warm' through to a larger scale project backed by funding to further develop and apply the framework.

Please reload

In this example above...


  • We use the persona of Steve, a fictional character we create based on the longitudinal studies and interview data for the 'Struggling and Alone' cluster within the Ageing Better Later Life in 2015 research by Ipsos Mori. Steve is 60 and has few social connections, and has been unable to get back into work. He does not use a PC or laptop and sees no need for them. Steve would like to get back into work but cannot see a way of doing so.

  • 'FindMeWorkers' is a fictional app that works as a broker between employers looking for experienced part-time workers and volunteers - and people from older age groups who want to contribute their skills through volunteering and occasional work, possibly as a way back into regular work.


Today: Broken

  • In the 'Today' phase the app has been recently launched and placed on usual digital media - sold via the app stores and promoted through social media. The app was funded by an innovation funder who has high hopes for the social impact if the app scales. However the app is not reaching enough of its target consumers: people from older age groups. For many people in later life, they  will simply never even hear that this app exists.


Tomorrow: Fixed

  • For the 'Tomorrow' phase we imagine we have brought together many organisations and come up with a simple fix. 'VUK' is a national volunteering organisation which see how the app could further its goals. It connects with a branch local to Steve, which in turn works with Steve's working man's club. They set up a session for Steve and others to attend where they can try out the app on iPads supplied by the local voluntary branch, and link Steve up with local opportunities for part-time work.


Future: Transformed

  • For the 'Future' scenario we then sketch out how more people like Steve, and other Personas based on the 'Later Life clusters', could be reached and introduced to such a service. This could involve some of the organisations in the workshop deciding to partner and co-develop new technology, and find more organisations that can help get out into other communities.

  • The use of open data, an open standard for work opportunities, and APIs by organisations across the field means that opportunities for work are available to Steve and to everyone else through multiple different contact points—local organisations, national organisations, and direct online. These mean that multiple platforms and organisations can offer work opportunities, and they can be accessible through multiple channels and integrated with many other services, from GP surgeries to community organisations, and from ageing charities to volunteering programmes.


Key Steps


The key steps of the approach are as follows:


Project Stakeholders


We hope to identify and welcome many types of organisations from across multiple sectors to join us on the project. We envisage the project will be made up of the 'Founders' and 'Contributors'. More information can be on the Stakeholders page.