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On the other side of COVID-19, wellbeing and connection to public sector resources will be increasingly programmed into integrated tools.

The economic blows of the Coronavirus pandemic have substantially impacted the New Zealand economy – but even more concerning is the impact on communities, and the degree to which this might exacerbate the digital divide.

As New Zealand pressed the pause button on normal life, innovative businesses began rethinking how we communicate and connect with one another – connecting the dots between what people need and what is possible with technology. Unsurprisingly, they have come up with creative solutions.

Enlighten Designs are Umbrellar Connect collaborators known for their humanistic, Cloud-centered designs. Underpinning these, is a commitment to use technology to make New Zealand a better place. As founder and CEO Damon Kelly asked in conversation with Umbrellar Connect earlier this year, could we treat emerging technologies as opportunities to collectively ask questions around the design, purpose and ethics of what we’re creating; especially “who’s going to be impacted?”.

During Covid-19, Enlighten Designs initiated two innovative applications. We speak to Craig Humphrey, Office 365 Development Manager, and Michelle Stanton, Office 365 Specialist, part of Enlighten Designs’ Modern Workplace team. They share how their sustainable focus has underpinned their commitment with helping New Zealanders during the difficulties brought on by Covid-19.

Youth Horizons – Connecting caregivers

When Covid 19 struck some businesses were caught unawares: focusing on business as usual. Enlighten Designs intensified their work in sustainable design practices, working in close collaboration with communities to provide the value-adds that come with enabling caregivers to work together.

Humphrey explains “We realised early on that business communications – both internally and externally – needed to be fast and effective in order to cope with the rapidly changing world that has become our ‘new normal’.”

One of Enlighten Designs’ clients is Youth Horizons. Youth Horizons is a national charitable trust with a mission of improving the lives of young New Zealanders dealing with behavioural, emotional, mental health and other development hardship. They have 250 staff and caregivers across the North and South Islands, who support young people and their families and whanau with continuous bi-cultural treatment.

Enlighten Designs created new interconnectivity capabilities for Youth Horizons’ caregiver workforce, regardless of location.

 

Enlighten Designs’ contribution and support of Youth Horizon aims to build a communications hub that makes communicating organisational messages easier. Humphrey explains how “Using Office 365, SharePoint Online and Power Apps, we built a caregiver communications site for Youth Horizons that provided a user-friendly way of connecting caregivers with regularly updated organisational information – no matter where they are physically located.”

It is an important initiative – communication and connectedness unsurprisingly are foundational values for Youth Horizons’ team, which prior to Enlighten Designs’ platform came up directly against the need to socially distance and working from home (‘WFH’). “Whilst ‘WFH’ was new to most of us, for Youth Horizons’ caregivers, it was ‘business as usual’”, Humphrey explains, “– to be able to give them the tools to continue to work remotely, without the regular face-to-face meetings, yet be vastly better connected was very satisfying.”

Te Waka – Communications for the public sector

Another of Enlighten Designs’ clients is Te Waka. Te Waka is the official economic development agency in the Waikato, developing partnerships across business, government, iwi and community, with a vision of prosperity and sustainable economic well-being for all.

Enlighten Designs structured Te Waka’s microsite – creating an hub for economic information, news and go-to resources.

Enlighten Designs were commissioned to set up a communications hub, this time for guidance specific to dealing with Covid-19, Stanton explains.

“The idea of the site was to give local businesses a place to come to for advice and information about finding their way in unprecedented times. Funded by Hamilton City Council, the phone-based support centre and microsite was targeted at small to medium sized firms.”

Partnering up with open source content management system Umbraco equipped Enlighten Designs with flexible workflows, achieving results that were unprecedented for a project of this complexity “We helped Te Waka build an interim website (Waikato Business Support) in just four days using Umbraco.”

Delivery Team Leader Jordan McFarlane noted Umbraco is “extremely rapid to stand up, and quick to customise. Usability is fantastic.”

“Normally for a site of this size it would be maybe a 3 – 6 week process as wireframing, design, development, testing, training, and content entry are all carried out in serial, commonly with customer approval gates in between.”

“The site contained news, webinars and resources and was perfect for supporting businesses through the crisis,” Stanton explains.

For a project with a short time-frame and high level of urgency, having the capability to create a unified solution was essential in order to build the key elements of the next phase.

“Once things started to get back onto an even keel, Enlighten integrated the resources and essence of that microsite into a brand new Te Waka digital presence,” Stanton said.

What does this mean for the community?

As Humphrey points out, “The caregiver communications app for Youth Horizons allowed caregivers to feel more connected to the organisation and each other, especially in a very difficult time.”

And with Te Waka, Stanton explains, “Previously, economic development promotion in the Waikato was multi-directional in approach and fractured in terms of web presence.”

Te Waka’s new site gives the Waikato an effective digital presence that not only supports local businesses but drives economic growth for the region as a whole.”

Could these kinds of collaborations with technology signal a more positive future for New Zealand society?

Collaborations with Youth Horizons and Te Waka are just the latest examples of Enlighten Design’s innovation leadership. Linking public sector associations and social enterprises is key to connecting with the communities that will most benefit from innovation – a social underpinning that Enlighten Designs has at the forefront of their collaborations.

The question now, in New Zealand at least, appears to be not so much how do we get through Covid 19, but what is on the other side – and how could empowering technologies develop positive social futures for all?

 

Cat Mules

Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Enlighten Designs

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2020 Microsoft NZ Country Partner of the Year Award winner! Let's keep it simple. We create beautiful, user friendly digital solutions. Enlighten Designs was founded on a passion for people and to deliver agile, human-centred technology solutions from the shores of New Zealand to the rest of the world.

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Application modernisation services address the migration of legacy to new applications or platforms, including the integration of new functionality to provide the latest functions to the business. Modernisation options include re-platforming, re-hosting, recoding, rearchitecting, re-engineering, interoperability, replacement and retirement, as well as changes to the application architecture to clarify which option should be selected.

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