Investigating Digital Innovations for the Community Transport Sector

In June 2016 the VIC team won a Proof of Concept Award from Innovation, Impact and Business department at the University of Exeter. This Award funded an investigation into the potential for developing software solutions and smartphone applications to improve the recruitment, deployment and management of volunteer drivers in community transport services.

The project began with an investigation of the systems through which TAP (Age UK Cornwall’s Community Transport Department) currently manage volunteer drivers. A survey was then conducted with the volunteer drivers to understand the issues from their perspective and gauge the appetite for  volunteer smartphone applications. These investigations identified three areas for innovation. Firstly around mapping volunteer driver need and volunteer driver capacity, secondly around the process of volunteer driver routing and thirdly around volunteer driver support.

Following this the VIC team commissioned iGeolise to analyse a sample week of volunteer driving data using their Travel Time technology. In essence the Travel Time technology maps journeys in minutes, not miles. This focus on travel time, rather than travel distance, produces a completely different geography of possibilities. As such this technology has enormous potential to revolutionise both how we understand geographies of volunteering, but also how the voluntary sector recruits and deploys volunteers in different areas of Cornwall.

This film outlines the challenges for the community transport sector and then sets out how new digital technologies could improve efficiency in service delivery.

If you are interested in supporting the next phase of please get in touch.

Summer Intern joins the team!

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Hi, my name is Liz and I’m a first year Environmental Science student at the University of Exeter. I’m excited to be starting my Summer Student Internship with the Volunteers in Communities (VIC) research project team at the Centre for Geography, Environment and Society.  In my role I will be looking at branding, the development and management of the VIC website, producing a promotional film and blogging about the progress of my project throughout.

I have previously worked in the higher education sector in events management and student recruitment roles, engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders. I bring with me experience of project management, working in a public relations office and volunteering for an environmental charity.

As a mature student I am focussed on creating opportunities for a career change. I am interested in sustainability, how humans and the environment interact and the effects of this on both a local and global scale. This internship opportunity gives me the chance to be involved with an innovative, local project with world-class researchers. Undertaking research and seeing how this can implement positive change at a grass-roots level is what I hope to be involved with in my future career.

Volunteers in Communities is an essential research project to aid the development of the public services support network for the communities of the future.  I believe due to the increasing reliance on the voluntary sector, mobilising volunteers to the locations where support is needed the most and how to sustain this will be amongst the challenges ahead for communities. Therefore, the pioneering approach of VIC and its partners facilitates solutions for these pressing issues.

Volunteering and Public Services


Our research on Living Well has been used as a case study in the RSA’s (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) report on ‘Volunteering and Public Services – Where co-production meets localism’ (2015). The case study emphasises how the success of Living Well is underpinned by strong relationships between groups of healthcare practitioners, GPs, older people, volunteers, community groups, and Living Well Coordinators.

Social networks and Living Well – A Case Study Review

social networks and living well coverThis paper examines the current methods of community engagement within Cornwall through a series of case studies and makes recommendations on how to improve these services. This paper also assesses community involvement in other areas in the UK in order to take lessons from other experiences and apply them to Cornwall.



  1. Engagement in community groups is not suitable for all elderly people.
  2. Services need to have a thorough knowledge of both the service user and the community groups in order to make accurate referrals.
  3. The tailoring of services is essential in order to alleviate isolation and loneliness for each individual.