Connections & Discussions at ISDT


Tactical Tech recently participated in the International School on Digital Transformation (ISTD), held in Porto, Portugal, July 25th to 30th. The six-day residential programme was organised by the UT Austin-Portugal Program, a cooperative endeavour between the University of Texas at Austin and some of the top universities of Portugal. The event brought together 45 emerging and established scholars, students and professionals from a variety of countries, who are interested in exploring and understanding how digital tools are transforming civil society.


ACT programme lead, Tanya Notley, who also attended the first event last year, was invited back to present Tactical Tech's work. During the week, she also facilitated a workshop on creative campaigning. Tanya says: “The organisers of the event are really using it to support a network and ongoing dialogue about how social change processes are shifting because of digital information and communication tools. Last year I made so many connections with people that we later worked with or shared resources with and I think this year will be the same.”


Tanya says the topics that most excited the participants this year were open data and mapping and also discussions around social enterprises for social good. “Eric Gunderson, co-founder of Development Seed had many interesting insights on the shift that is happening in some governments and international bodies toward open data and it was exciting to see the results of these changes. Development Seed worked on election monitoring maps in Afghanistan and they have managed to contribute significant mapping data on Africa into Open Street Maps.


“Also really interesting was the presentation by Marlon Parker, founder of the Reconstructed Living Lab (Rlabs), at Cape Town. Marlon is a wonderful storyteller and he explained his unique approach to co-developing projects with communities in need. Out of that approach many projects have developed including an online counselling service that has become immensely popular in Cape Town and has helped many people struggling with different aspects of their lives.


When asked about her lasting impression of the event, Tanya said: “I feel hopeful. The organisers seem committed to holding an annual event that will support a network of people who think digital transformation is an important topic. The event will, I think, continue to become stronger and I hope with time it will contribute to this field via the new partnerships and research collaborations it is nurturing.”


Tactical Tech are pleased that all the participants at the event walked away with a copy of 10 tactics for turning information into action, courtesy of the event organisers. 


Image: Group work at the creative campaigning workshop, by Christopher McConnell