Ask Izzy is a free and anonymous Australia-wide mobile website that connects those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to essential support services based on their location. It is the collaborative effort of not-for-profit Infoxchange and corporate partners Google, News Corp Australia and Realestate.com.au.
Corporates come together to support Ask Izzy
“We won the Google Impact Challenge in 2014 for our idea for a mobile website that connects people who are homeless or at risk with our database of 350,000 services. Realestate.com.au and News Corp Australia were developing something similar and we joined forces. Ask Izzy is all the more powerful because of this collaboration,” explains David Spriggs, CEO of Infoxchange, on how the corporate sector came together to support the project.
Spriggs’ collaborative view is one shared by Maile Carnegie, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, who says: “Homelessness is a really complex issue, and the only way we’re going to be able to make inroads is if a group of different organisations come together and collaborate really well.”
While for Peter Tonagh, CEO of News Corp Australia, a key role they were able to play as an organisation was to helping to promote Ask Izzy to a national audience. “The most important thing is making people aware of it, and through our very vast media network, we’re ideally placed to help to promote Ask Izzy to make sure that both the users are aware of it, also that the services are aware of it, but equally the community as a whole is aware of it.”
The role of technology
Around 77 per cent of homeless Australians have a smartphone, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Sydney. This means technology can play a key role in making information easily available and accessible.
In the case of Ask Izzy – which is available on phone, desktop and tablet devices – users can connect with support services, to find essentials like food, legal advice, healthcare and shelter.
“Technology gives us the ability to tackle issues such as homelessness at a national scale,” says Spriggs. “Not-for-profits are increasingly under pressure to do more with less and technology is a great way to aid frontline delivery of services and improve efficiency and effectiveness.”
Corporate collaborator Tracey Fellows, CEO of REA Group is also quick to emphasise the importance of technology. “Technology has the ability to make things simpler, to put information in your hands, to be context aware, and so all of those opportunities should be just as accessible for people who are looking for shelter as they are for us in the business world.”
Ask Izzy will potentially help provide insights as to where the most need is for services and funding. Spriggs notes: “Over time, we hope Ask Izzy will give a comprehensive view of service demand across the country, allowing the sector and government to make more informed choices about future investment.”
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