Forward Thinking: How Technology Can Help Ease Homelessness

My name is Sheila, and I am from the Chicago area. I am doing an internship abroad this summer through the University College Dublin (UCD) Quinn Business School. In the city of Chicago, there are about 6,000 homeless individuals [includes people living on the street and in shelters] according to the Department of Family & Support Services. Seeing people on the streets and knowing that there are so many more struggling is the reason I wanted to work for a not-for-profit, like Space Engagers.

(photo courtesy of Space Engagers)

Dublin also has a serious housing issue, with almost 4,300 people in homelessness as of the 2016 census. There is no single reason as to why homelessness is still present in today’s world, but lack of available housing is one of the causes for Ireland’s capital.

Ways to Help

Space Engagers is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Dublin that created the Reusing Dublin project as part of the EU FP7 TURAS research project in UCD. The Reusing Dublin platform used interactive mapping to promote civic engagement, gather data, and provide the first step towards self-organizing and finding new ways of doing things. Aoife Corcoran and Philip Crowe, who started Reusing Dublin, were approached by Francis Doherty from the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT), a homelessness charity, in 2016. Francis had identified that Reusing Dublin could be useful for PMVT.

Community Effort

In December 2016 the PMVT adopted Reusing Dublin. The Trust’s goal is to decrease homelessness, drug misuse, and social disadvantage. With the use of the platform the trust can: help engage citizens, raising awareness and gathering signatures on their petition calling for action on the estimated 40k vacant homes in Dublin; crowd-source data on over 1000 vacant spaces, such as their location, condition and reasons for being vacant; and to identify potential projects and solutions for bringing properties back to life.

PMVT and Space Engagers are now working on a new app version of Reusing Dublin that will be launched in the next few months, enabling citizens to engage and gather data on the move!

So this is an example of how an interactive mapping app is being used to enable citizens to be an active part of addressing issues such as homelessness and vacancy.

(photo courtesy of Space Engagers)
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