One of our Founder’s original goals when setting up Noggin was to find ways to support his local village high street as equally as he could a major town or city.
Sven’s nearest centre serves a local population of around 7,000, and attracts visitors from further afield. Like neighbouring cities, it too has familiar issues. Raised business rates and online shopping are two key elements. Retail remains a challenging issue at all levels. Perhaps greengrocers’ fights against supermarkets years ago foresaw the turmoil internet shopping has brought to the bigger entities. Competition is seen as tough, emotional and often unfair.
Typically relying on volunteers and tiny budgets, community high streets don’t have the means to afford consultant rates, nor can they buy a conventional footfall camera to measure their performance. Hearsay is dominant, and lack of resources can often hold back progress. How can these places access support in much the same way a larger town or BID might?
Alongside the data analysis that led Sven to starting Noggin, his personal background includes building hugely scaleable websites: good ideas and novel applications that could be delivered en masse at low cost. The web is a showcase of affordability through volume. Consistency – finding the common ground – holds huge potential and this has stuck with Sven ever since.
Part of Noggin is therefore about scaling support for town centre management. How we can deliver expertise, tools and services at high volumes for low individual costs, knowing that towns and villages typically share common issues that could be satisfied equally.
The first is an initiative to tap into local resources. Volunteers who love and support their local area, and are keen to help. How can we provide training to improve manual footfall counts, or distribute resources to help local enthusiasts develop their own means of counting, for instance?
The second is in fair, accessible pricing. The Noggin Hub is designed to embrace economies of scale. As more subscribe, the cost per location typically decreases, broadening its reach.
Sustainability is about ensuring scaleability: that the tools are useful to all and our combined efforts & benefits are shared as efficiently as possible.
Even with this in mind, some smaller places still cannot afford to access these resources (yet!…) so Noggin has been very pleased to work with several district councils in the south of England, each of whom has funded Hubs for their market towns, villages and communities in this region who would otherwise not be able to benefit from our efforts. We’re working on case studies to tell you more about these projects in due course.
Data is not the only decider for any community, but it’s a big part of the overall picture. Noggin continues to strive for accessibility and outreach, and over the next few months we plan to release more tools & services to benefit all our users – regardless of size.