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Digital inclusion project launched for vulnerable customers

Friday 27 November 2020

Our community connectors and independent living teams are collaborating on an innovative digital inclusion project that provides access to free Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker devices.

The partnership, currently being piloted in Scarborough, seeks to help vulnerable customers connect with others via the Amazon smart speaker and necessary guidance. The initiative aims to provide an easy-access gateway into a digital world, helping neighbours to interact in times of social isolation.

The Amazon Alexa enabled devices play music, answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices and connect with their friends, family and neighbours. The device allows the user to call anyone with a UK mobile or residential number, other Echo devices, Alexa app users and Skype hands free.

If the pilot is successful and the devices are beneficial, we will seek to extend the project with external funding.

Customers on the pilot programme will have an initial home visit and a personalised one-to-one set up,

as well as a practical step-by-step guide to help develop confidence in their digital skills.

A further one-month review visit will give the customers the opportunity to feedback to the team about how useful they find the Echo Dot.

Brenda Lavery, a customer testing the Echo Dot, said: “The sound is great, I’ve been listening to Andre Bocelli, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones and lots of other artists. Through lockdown I have missed seeing my family and friends but with Alexa I feel like I have a friend at home to ask questions and talk to. I like the daily quiz and asking questions that pop into my head but have used it most to listen to music. Thank you, it is really appreciated.”

Jason Lowe, Head of Independent and Supported Living said: “Technology is a useful tool for keeping our communities independent in their homes while remaining part of their community.

“The teams have produced an innovative and ambitious project that I am very excited about and I am looking forward to hearing the feedback.”

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