The Scottish Tech Army is building a volunteer Covid-19 technical response team.
The Scottish Tech Army is building a rapid response force to address short and midterm recovery phase responses to the Covid-19 pandemic – all projects will require a focus and have an urgent requirement.
The initiative has been developed in partnership with CivTech, the Scottish Government’s digital innovation programme which takes problems identified by public sector organisations and sets challenges to innovative SMEs to help solve them. This scope will be widened by the Scottish Tech Army, who will support projects from many sources that focus on health, social care, logistics, and third sector activities.
The Scottish Tech Army was founded by Edinburgh based entrepreneurs, Peter Jaco, a tech entrepreneur and angel investor who sits on the CivTech Advisory Group and chairs tech start-ups CyberOwl and Immense Simulations, and Alistair Forbes, also a tech entrepreneur and formerly head of software and internet at venture capital investor Mercia Technologies.
The Scottish Tech Army is a not for profit company that is staffed by volunteers and run by its founders on a voluntary basis. The company was created with pro bono support from Scottish legal, recruitment, public relations, and design firms.
The Scottish Tech Army is looking for talented Scottish technical staff that have been furloughed or for other reasons have time they can commit to the project, with volunteers sought from the broad range of the tech development world including software developers, project and programme managers, social media and marketing, business analysts, application deployment, and operations expertise.
Everyone who joins the Scottish Tech Army will be doing so as a volunteer, offering their time and talents to help deliver a wide range of projects and becoming part of the most vibrant tech community in Scotland.
For the Scottish Tech Army to be of value, time is of the essence. The approach is to start quickly, iterate rapidly, and scale based on demand, and an ideal project will keep both the process and the solutions tightly focused, allowing teams of 4~6 volunteers to deliver in 4~6 weeks. The initial objective is to be able to deliver a worthwhile number of meaningful projects within the period covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme.
Already over 600 people have volunteered, and the organisers have been working hard to match them to proposed projects. The first four projects got underway in the middle of this week and will be quickly followed by more. The initial projects include support for teams working to address violence against women and girls, to help the tourist industry in Argyll and Bute recover post-pandemic, and to support charitable organisations in delivering their services.
The Scottish Tech Army itself is focused on the issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may have a role beyond this. After furlough is over, or new employment started, volunteers may continue to volunteer on a spare-time basis for further projects, and over time go on to build a true ‘reserve’ of volunteers.
As Alistair Forbes says, “Scotland’s tech community is ready to join this fight. Public and private sector workers – from health and social care staff through to food supply chain and logistics workers – are out there risking their lives to battle this pandemic and the Scottish Tech Army gives our digital community the chance to demonstrate that we’ve got their backs.
“Data and digital technologies are key weapons in the fight against the coronavirus and we’ll be able to rapidly deploy the resources and skills needed to tackle the outbreak and support the people who are being affected.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and I’m confident the Scottish tech community will rise to it.”