Tech for Good - Peace Tech Lab
The Nerve Centre's John Peto sits on the board of the Building Change Trust

Tech for Good - Peace Tech Lab

23 October 2014

The Building Change Trust is working in the area of social innovation, a major component of which is digital social innovation, or as we call it - Tech for Good. Here the Nerve Centre's John Peto tells us about an upcoming event looking at this exciting area. 

Tech for Good is a wide-ranging descriptor – using technology to support social interventions generally; the specific use of technology to tackle a health or educational or social issue; or the use of technological tools to support a social enterprise may all fit the definition at some level. 

The problem with such a broad church of activity is that specific examples can be hard to exemplify, making it difficult to get a handle on what Tech for Good may actually look like on the ground. 

PeaceTechLab, a new initiative from INCORE and the Nerve Centre, is embracing the whole notion of using technology for positive social, cultural and political gain and provides a useful local exemplar. 

PeaceTechLab is novel in seeking to fuse the knowledge base and research capacity of the University of Ulster’s INCORE Project with the digital and social programming experience of the Nerve Centre to examine and develop ways in which new and emerging technologies can be used in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

The project has evolved out of INCORE’s innovative work around Peacebuilding and Technology and teaching in the area, which saw them working with the Nerve Centre around digital media and, more recently, digital fabrication through the FabLab.

As the concept has evolved partners have been added from the digital creative (, and digital analytics ( fields on the technical side and the Young Foundation and Agirre Centre in the Basque Country on the Social, Innovation and Peacebuilding side.

Its an exciting proposition and at this stage exists as a launched concept. Support is being sought from a range of sources to develop the project and make the PeaceTechLab a reality – placing Northern Ireland at the forefront of innovation in this newly emerging and disruptive field.

PeaceTechLab provides an example of how FabLabs are becoming drivers for Digital Social Innovation around the world.

In Detroit, FabLabs have been supporting communities to develop new skills, sustainability and provide locally designed and owned solutions to food supply, shelter and unemployment.

Whilst, in Iceland, a national network of FabLabs has been supporting economic recovery and reinvention in the wake of the Country’s economic meltdown in 2008.

Here in Northern Ireland, the Nerve Centre and Ashton Centre’s FabLabs have developed best practice around the use of digital fabrication not just for Peacebuilding but also for curriculum based work with Teachers and Pupils, Mental Health Support and a range of Social Inclusion projects.

To help develop knowledge and understanding around this work a free event is being held in Derry~Londonderry  on Monday 10th November which brings speakers from the FabLabs in Detroit and Iceland to Derry, alongside the local FabLabs and  NESTA, to showcase models of best practice in the field. 

Registration is free but compulsory to secure a place:

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