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How technology is accelerating community engagement, and prosperity

City of Newcastle
Submitted by Adam Beck on January 14, 2021

The City of Newcastle has developed a comprehensive community and economic support package designed to help locals through the unprecedented effects of COVID-19. 

Part of this delivery package to support the community and local economy included the implementation of 'Lean in Newy', an innovative technology-led community support program.

The Lean In Newy solution aims to connect community organizations/charities that need support getting through the COVID-19 pandemic, with people who want to lend a hand and offer support.

The premise of the app is to make it easy for able citizens in the community to get involved and 'lean in' and in return get rewarded with exclusive discounts from participating local businesses.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said, "We have been hearing from many people in the community wanting to help but not knowing how. Lean In Newy is the answer to those asking, 'How can I help?'.

Participating charities include OzHarvest, Dog Rescue Newcastle and Take 3 For The Sea, who have put out a call for volunteers, these volunteers receive bonus Lean in Newy points for use on redeeming local offers, such as a free coffee at a local café, $10 off a meal etc.

Deployed during the NSW lockdown period, the City of Newcastle and GreenBe Software teams worked tirelessly to deploy Lean in Newy during a compressed timeline during April to May 2020.

How it works:

  1. Citizens activate a free personal account – the Lean In Newy app is downloaded, the citizen enters their household residential address for matching and validation, this ensures they reside within the designated LGA. Personal demographic data is captured by Council in the backend

  2. Participate in challenges and earn –  citizens are incentivized with Lean in Newy points, or 'city credits' to pitch in with their skills, time and/or by showing their support in the community, for example volunteering, shopping local etc

  3. Redeeming rewards – each challenge completed earns points to be redeemed for discounts or benefits at a selection of local City of Newcastle businesses. Vouchers are redeemed and transactions are recorded within the app

  4. City of Newcastle rebates businesses – each week, the City of Newcastle pays local businesses with redeemed rewards. By paying the business for the value of the redeemed discount, Council is able to assist the local economy and also citizens with the cost of living savings.

Actions are incentivized through the platform in six major categories:

  1. Ready to Help: a series of enabling challenges that sets up the participant to fully take part in the Lean In Newy initiative

  2. Pitch In: a series of challenges structured around formal volunteering opportunities with pre-vetted community groups, not-for-profits and NGOs

  3. Help Out: a series of challenges that are aimed at encouraging people to provide assistance to those in need within their local neighborhoods

  4. Stay Connected: a series of challenges that are designed to encourage and nurture community interaction, creativity and wellbeing throughout the covid-19 crisis

  5. Shop Local: a series of challenges that incentivize participants to support their local small businesses

  6. Lean in Kids!: a series of challenges aimed at the skills and interests of children.

Lean In Newy is a motivating platform and a connecting platform. It is designed to encourage and enable community-led social action to be guided and harnessed towards areas of greatest impact. It can organize the activities of an individual and connect community and user groups to deliver that activity. It is broad enough in its range of activities to support people who wish to undertake formal volunteering, just help out in their neighborhood, or undertake activity nurturing community connection.