Kirsten Le Harivel, Digital Strategy Manager from Ara Taiohi, the peak
body for youth development in Aotearoa/New Zealand, shares her thoughts on how digital technology is being used by the youth sector in New Zealand and the possibilities it offers to enhance our work with young people.
Data Visualisation Tool – Reaching Youths Where They Are
Young people and technology feel intertwined in our modern world. Yet we, the people working with young people, aren’t always taking up technological advances at the same rate as the young people we are working with.
The possibilities that the digital space offers us have really expanded in recent times, providing more tools for behind the scenes data analysis, reporting and evaluation. Yet, for many of us in the sector, technology can still feel intimidating, difficult to use, a bit ‘big brother’-like and full of risks for young people, their families and wider communities.
There are definitely aspects to modern technology that present serious risks to privacy and safety, but there are also many benefits. Ara Taiohi sector leaders believe it’s time to follow our young people’s lead and take on the best that digital has to offer our work. Whilst holding true to youth development principles and practice that keeps young people at the centre of any work we do.
We’re really excited about the possibilities that technology presents our members–to enable them to spend less time doing the behind-the-scenes work and more time working with young people. We’re especially excited about how the way that tools can enable access to data about and affecting young people.
With the involvement of the sector, we’ve designed a unique youth-specific data visualisation tool. Our tool maps what we do and where we do it, helps us assess how that affects young people and critically, opens opportunities to collaborate. We’ve had a great level of interest from our members as well as philanthropists and Government.
The tool provides an easy-to-use tool that enables users to quickly and easily access large amounts of publicly accessible data about young people and their communities. For the first time, anyone can use the map to find out about what’s going on in their local community, region and at the national level. We’ve been able to open population-level data to everyone, regardless of whether they have a background in data analysis or research.
The platform helps us take control of data about and affecting young people and use it to support the telling of our stories, in a way that showcases the strengths and voices of the young people we work with. Our members can validate their lived experience with the young people they work with, ask themselves new questions about the work they are doing, find out what other organisations are in their community and what they are doing, highlight gaps and identify opportunities. It’s designed to be a tool that sits alongside our existing youth development practice, which ensures that services are developed with and for young people.
Our journey with data is only just beginning. Although we’ve got the latest Census, Electoral Commission, Housing New Zealand Corporation social housing data, NZ Dep and basic info about our members, we really want to expand the range and variety of data available to our members. We’re really excited about the next stages which will allow us to bring in new datasets and enable more comprehensive data analysis.
(You can check out the tool here.)