Thursday, 25 May 2017 20:32

Can car sharing end rural isolation?

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Can car sharing end rural isolation?

Car share company Liftshare has won £25,000 of funding to explore initiatives to end rural and social isolation.

The Norfolk-based firm was awarded the funding by innovation company Nesta through their ShareLab Fund project.

The project finances businesses to grow evidence and understanding of how collaborative digital platforms can deliver social impact.

Now Liftshare will work with local community transport (CT) providers throughout Norfolk on their 'HappyCT' project.

    See also: Mind the [rural] infrastructure gap

It aims to find ways to improve on-demand transport options for people suffering from social and rural isolation – and promote available services to potential users.

Last November, Nesta research revealed an untapped market for platforms with a social purpose.

It found that nearly 45 million British adults are not aware of how sharing economy technologies can help them access social support services, or support community causes.

This inspired the company to launch the ShareLab fund. Liftshare is one of eight companies to receive funding for their project.

The HappyCT project will be headed up by Liftshare's Head of Growth, Paul Gosnell, who is now undertaking the initial research phase.

Mr Gosnell said: "Community Transport is a huge industry but relatively unknown to the people it can help most – the people cut off from society due to lack of or poor transport options.

"Combining support, awareness, and data with technology can help connect people and CT operators which is something myself and Liftshare are passionate about doing.

"Using technology to solve real problems. I encourage all interested parties to get in touch with me to share their ideas and opinions!"

Nesta Innovation Lab executive director Helen Goulden said: "The ideas funded through ShareLab show that the collaborative economy has many practical applications beyond just finding a place to stay or getting a cab ride.

"We see great potential in these innovations to help alleviate some of the pressure on local governments, addressing the real needs of people, families and communities."

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