Alix King

Freelance Copywriter

“I don’t think any of this digital stuff affects me.”

…That’s what my mum said in the queue to eat at Marks and Spencer’s café. We ordered some soup, and were given a square black plastic pad with a number on it. We sat down with our sparkling elderflower water and waited for our food. Just as mum started saying, “How will they know where we are?” our plastic number vibrated on the table, and the waiter arrived with our bowls of soup.

I asked how this worked. We were told that the number pad had a sensor, which was connected to a GPS ‘circuit board’ in the ceiling that then told the server exactly where we were sitting. (my non-techie explanation).

I said thank you and then turned to mum, grin on my face.

“That’s digital. See? It helped you to get your M&S soup!”

The fact is that digital affects all of us. The digital era evolved slowly, and escalated quickly. One minute we had dial-up connection to get onto the Internet and now we can scan all our own groceries, can turn our heating on from our phones when we leave work and can even see in real-time why and how late your bus is going to be.

Digital is making our lives easier.

I’m not a techie in any way – I love my print journalism. I do, however, keep abreast with news online, generally on my smart phone, and this is where I saw the big story last year about how Bournemouth was beating London as the UK’s fastest growing digital economy (cited in the Telegraph).

Now that may have been subjective, it may have even been blown out of proportion. But what is true is that there are digital projects going on in the Bournemouth area that deserve that accolade, and will amaze and excite even the un-techiest of person. (i.e. me).

Let’s take Westbourne as an example. It’s a small suburb of Bournemouth, just west of beachy Bournemouth, with independent boutiques similar to those that you see in Wimbledon Village or Chelsea. Hidden there (and I mean hidden) is a hive of digital activity

First is Base, a mobile app development company that allows companies to connect with their clients using modern mobile app technology, or ‘wearable digital technology’ (Apple Watch or Google Glass specs, for example).

Give me an example of how this works?

Base have developed an app that when switched on can influence shopping behaviours. If you were to shop in Marks & Spencer, and have their app downloaded on your mobile or ‘wearable’ device, the sensors in-store would locate your presence while you were there, gather information on your recent shopping purchases and provide you with offers that apply to those previous shopping habits – that otherwise you may have not heard about. Clever! Find out more about Base here.

And that’s not the only thing happening in Westbourne.

Just a stone’s throw from Base is 3 Sided Cube, located in the County Gates building. As well as having a cool name, it is a digital agency that specialises in designing and building great mobile apps.

Digital saves lives.

CharityKit

This is a platform powered by JustGiving that enables any charity to build and manage their own mobile app. Once set up, the charity and supporters will have a mobile app that they can download, while the content is entirely controlled by the charity itself. Great for smaller charities with lower budgets.

American Red Cross

3 Sided Cube have had a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross. The ARC recognised the need to move its blood donation booking system to a mobile platform, and 3SC created a solution for this. Their app also encourages, motivated and engages donors.

To find out more, visit their apps page here.

Barclays Eagle Lab

That’s not all that’s happening in Westbourne. Barclays Eagle Labs chose Bournemouth – in particular Westbourne – as one of their venues. Also situated in the County Gates building, here you can find incubators and workspaces to help growing businesses, and ‘maker spaces’; studios with 3D printers, laser cutters and other facilities to show younger people how to work with digital tools. In particular, as advertised on Barclays television ads are classes to teach youngsters coding and all things digital, providing them with the knowhow to create computer programmes and more…

I only investigated a few things happening in Westbourne, a small suburb of Bournemouth. Imagine what else is happening elsewhere! Having achieved national press status recently as one of the UK’s fastest-growing digital economies, and owning one of the fastest public WiFi services, Bournemouth is sure putting its feet firmly on the digital map. And I haven’t even mentioned the Silicon Beach event which attracts digital leaders from across the UK! I could go on but it would take a while…

Digital is everywhere, and we need to embrace it. It affects all of us, however big or small. And digital isn’t just ‘those fancy phones and silly games’. Look at the Red Cross app – digital saves lives! We are lucky to see the digital revolution on our lifetime.

What do you think now mum? MUM?? (She’s just ordering her groceries online. DIGITALLY). Sigh.

If you would like to find out more about digital in Bournemouth, and meet leaders of the most influential digital agencies in Bournemouth, come to Meetdraw this Thursday. And get a free drink too! Get your free ticket here