October 20, 2023
Partnering with DCMS to operate the UK’s first Safety Tech Challenge Fund - a groundbreaking grant programme aimed at empowering safety tech innovation to enhance child online safety
In 2021, PUBLIC embraced the challenge of overseeing the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) Safety Tech Challenge Fund, a groundbreaking government grant programme. Its mission was to award grants of up to £85,000 each to five organisations tasked with developing proof of concepts (PoCs) dedicated to ensuring the safety of children in end-to-end encrypted environments, all while preserving user privacy. This initiative was particularly sensitive due to its focus on privacy-preserving technology and the critical issue of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. The challenge was multifaceted, demanding meticulous fund administration, cross-sector and cross-Whitehall collaboration, engagement with stakeholders from diverse domains, and adept management of a high-stakes government programme.
We played a pivotal role in crafting a multi-stakeholder project that effectively navigated complex governance structures. Key stakeholders included the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS,) Home Office, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the National Crime Agency (NCA), and the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN).
We executed a meticulously planned series of phases over an eight-month period to ensure the success of the Safety Tech Challenge Fund, including:
This initiative empowered safety tech innovation and created a collaborative environment dedicated to enhancing child online safety. It facilitated the development of PoCs that can significantly contribute to the prevention of online child sexual abuse and exploitation while upholding user privacy. The programme’s educational and interactive aspects furthered knowledge dissemination and encouraged cross-sector cooperation, fostering a safer online environment for children.
The most impressive support I think I’ve experienced in my (many) years in the civil service. We couldn’t have wished for a more supportive, committed, responsive, professional, and insightful team.
Supporting to the European Commission to foster the digitisation of the public sector by convening the European GovTech ecosystem
Working with BEIS to enhance user engagement with digital services to drive its Climate Finance Accelerator (CFA) initiative
Through extensive desk research, use case development and stakeholder engagement, we recommended four areas of focus for the EHRC’s Strategic Plan relating to AI and equality and human rights.
Empowering DSIT to assess the Online Safety Bill’s effectiveness with a flexible M&E framework informed by robust research
Researching accreditation approaches across the technology sector to develop recommendations for a tailored accreditation process for the online safety tech industry
Comprehensive research to equip Ofcom with a deep understanding of online content accessibility via search services, informing online safety guidance
Crafting a comprehensive Interactive Services (IS) Model to provide Ofcom with a common framework for understanding user journeys and platform workflows
Developing a ‘minimum-viable product’ for a standards framework to assess online safety compliance solutions
Through mixed methods user research we mapped the prevalence and impact of OVAWG, identified key dynamics characterising how these harms occur, and categorised 18 harm types.
Researched innovative design approaches that can support the safety of women and girls on online platforms and services.
Partnering with the Department for Health & Social Care and NHSX to launch the UK’s flagship COVID-19 challenge programme as a tool for rapidly scaling new technologies which could help address key priorities during the health crisis