I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a judge for NT100 2016, but had little idea of how incredible yet difficult the process of assessing submissions would be.
Organised by Nominet Trust, NT100 is an annual list of 100 leading ventures that are using technology to tackle social issues. As the founder and funder of Nominet Trust, Nominet offered staff the chance to volunteer for judging duties, and I was one of four selected to be involved in 2016.
The biggest challenge of the judging process was grading vastly different initiatives and scoring them against the set criteria. We were appraising big community-changing projects, small single campaign initiatives and everything in between. We reviewed green energy projects, human rights groups’ activities, education drives, potential poverty solutions and many others. How to identify the best amid so many worthy projects?
The NT100 is selected each year through group consensus, with the strongest submissions identified through rounds of judging. As with any group there were often different (strong) views around the table and communicating clearly about the evidence to support a particular submission was essential. All judging was done on an individual basis and scores were seen by everyone in the group, however only those submissions unanimously agreed on were progressed forward to the final 100.
Almost 700 submissions were received, with 150 selected for judging, so it goes without saying there were many projects that didn’t make the cut, some of which made a big impression on me.
As a parent myself, the work of The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Charity resonated – their focus is on improving hospital experiences for children and their submission for NT100 was for their research, innovation and education work. The charity seeks to develop better, safer medicines and treatments specifically for children, such as blood testing processes that don’t involve needles and palatable medication. Hospitals can be scary and painful places for children, so work in this area is much needed.
While I was sorry to let go of this project in the judging process, I was thrilled to see one of my favourite projects make the final 100:
The Digital Citizen Fund inspired me with its aims to help women in developing countries across the world access and develop the IT skills needed to progress in technology driven global markets. This is something that we often take for granted in the West. The organisation has built tech media centres and currently runs education programmes, supplies IT equipment and provides empowering resources for women in these communities, giving them life-changing IT skills. There are plans to grow this initiative and I hope they will build successfully on this strong foundation.
Challenge aside, it was an absolute pleasure to be involved as a judge for NT100 2016. It was humbling to read of the good work and amazing people striving to make the world around us a better place through creative and innovative uses of technology.
The NT100 for 2016 was announced on 14 December, with more information on the selected 100 available on the Social Tech Guide.