How a university shares technology expertise with its local community

Finalist category: Community Impact Award 2014


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Finalist, 2014

De Montfort University’s (DMU) flagship community engagement programme DMU Square Mile is helping connect people with new technology, in areas that need it the most. The project, called IT4Free, allows local residents to benefit from all of DMU’s technology resources, academic knowledge and partnerships. This project targets an area of Leicester where data shows that less than 40% of the 8,500 residents have access to a home computer.

Following the success of opening a community IT suite in 2012, the DMU Square Mile team realised the opportunities it could offer. Through the project, IT4Free, the university has supported hundreds of people in the past year in learning new skills or benefiting from the world-class innovations being developed on the city centre campus.

These have included teaching people basic IT and social media skills, creating free apps to support society’s most vulnerable people, and using a partnership with Hewlett Packard to build eight more IT suites in schools and community centres. IT suites have also been created in The Gambia through DMU Square Mile IT4Free working with DMU’s new international initiative #DMUGlobal and charity Global Hands. Furthermore, primary school pupils have been taught the principles of robotics. Children and teachers are also undergoing basic coding.

IT4Free is connecting people from across generations and aspirations are growing. One of their attendees, 71, contacted her nephew serving in Afghanistan after learning instant messaging via Facebook. She wept tears of joy after receiving an immediate reply from him saying he was safe and well. It was the first contact they had made in months.

To find out more about the work that DMU Square Mile do, click here to visit their website:

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