Start date: 01-01-2023
End date: 31-12-2025
The voluntary commitment of citizens is an indispensable, supporting pillar of critical infrastructures (CRITIS) such as disaster management, rescue services, health and social services as well as food supply. More than 46% of Austrian’s volunteers, twice as much as the EU average, with a weekly workload of 14.7 million hours – of which more than 5.8 million for CRITIS (e.g. flood, harvest, crisis hotlines, vaccination roads and care). CRITIS that depend on volunteering are of fundamental importance for Austria. A lack of sustainability of the voluntary sector due to a decline, overload or failure of voluntary engagement, when volunteers themselves become people in need, would not only jeopardise the quality of care in non-crisis times, but above all would no longer guarantee the activation and coordination of volunteers in case of a crisis. However, the sustainability of the voluntary sector is massively endangered by demographic change, but especially also by the profound change in social structure and motives in the sense of individualisation and pluralisation of society.
The project »CIvolunteer« (Critical Infrastructures Powered by Volunteers) takes these key challenges into account by creating a digital platform for goal-driven and competence-based networking and bundling of volunteer engagement across NPOs, so that the goals and competences of volunteers can be synergisticallyaligned with the activity requirements for strengthening CRITIS. Such a professionalisation of voluntary engagement through an adequate digital transformation creates the basis to ensure the sustainability of the voluntary sector also in the future and thus guarantees a sustainable and comprehensivestrengthening of volunteer-dependent CRITIS.
Based on research into the conceptual and technical requirements, the central result is a web-based, mobile platform in the form of practical showcases as software prototypes, completed by a corresponding business model to make it usable for volunteer-dependent CRITIS. The methodological approach follows the »Human Centered Design Approach«, in which the project result is continuously concretised with the involvement of end users, whereby sustainability and adequate evaluation are ensured by means of user studies in cooperation with the need carrier and NPOs from different CRITIS areas associated via LoIs. The consortium combines a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary competences from business and science with application-oriented knowledge from the need carrier and NPOs, but in particular also from citizens and communities in the informal voluntary sector, who act as providers of needs, ideas and solutions.