Novacroft’s founder talks about Ucan-do-it: smart technology to support communities

Debra Charles is founder of Novacroft, the company which ran the LOCOG card and manages passenger smartcard schemes throughout the UK. One of her latest programmes is the development of the innovative Ucan-do-it programme, which harnesses smartcard technology in order to recognise and reward  people who are socially active in their communities.
Based in Northampton, Novacroft provides a complete service including online customer application processing, product delivery, and customer care via its own 200+ seat contact centre.  Clients include Transport for London, GLA, local government and passenger transport authorities.
Here’s what she told us about Ucan-do-it

Q. What is the Ucan-do-it programme?
A. Ucan-do-it is an innovative programme that seeks to reward active citizens, improve health and wellbeing, reduce carbon footprint, encourage social action, and create sustainable business growth whilst impacting positively on our communities.

Q. What was the catalyst behind the Ucan-do-it programme?
A. It was really a desire to change the way in which businesses and other organisations engage, support and inspire the communities they serve.

Years of economic downturn have taken a toll on organisations (private and public sector), and on many of us as individuals.  I felt that by mobilizing businesses to address some of the key issues in our communities, we could collaboratively encourage greater social action whilst stimulating business and local economies.

Whilst the Chancellor’s budget statement heralded good news in relation to economic growth, for the public sector more spending cuts were announced. We know that the country is by no means out of the woods, more efficiency measures need to take place to ensure the survival of UK business, which will also impact directly on those who are most in need in our communities.

Q. Why is technology so important to tackling some of these issues?
A. Technology’s about simplification, it’s about making life easier.  For example, the smartcard enables multiple reward types such as redeemable points, money and tickets. Smartcards can also be managed by us as individuals, loading what’s relevant to us in the comfort of our home, so that we can spend our rewards when and where it takes our fancy.

Q. What do you hope the legacy will be for the Ucan-do-it programme?
A. I hope that through incremental steps the outcomes we collaboratively change societal aspirations, empowering individuals to step up to serve their communities, be empowered to have their say in community issues and get active. Outcomes will include measurable impact on health, carbon savings, volunteering hours, public transport ridership, and the mapping of social activity.

The outcomes for participating businesses will be the opportunity for them to demonstrate leadership, to differentiate themselves within their marketplace and to truly engage with their customers.

We believe Ucan-do-it is a game-changer.

It’s about engaging with existing and prospective customers in a way that hasn’t happened before. By rewarding people for improving their lives and those around them, participating organisations will retain existing customers, attract new ones, improve brand perception and facilitate greater community leverage. It will also provide market intelligence beyond our existing customer base.

Q. What are the next steps?
A. We’ll run a number of regional pilots with a selection of consumer facing companies, with the support of Local Authorities. This activity will inform and shape the business model in preparation for UK launch, which is planned for later this year.

Q. Which brands would you like to see involved?
A. The beauty of this programme is that it can be adopted by all sectors of business; retail, leisure, public transport providers, utility providers, educational facilities, in fact any organisation that wants to recognise and reward social action. We’re happy to hear from any consumer brands that would like to discuss the opportunity.

I’d also like to see this project adopted and supported by Local Authorities who wish to harness smart technology to drive social action.