Technology for social justice
Two young people in front of graffiti wall

Giving Ask Izzy a voice with help from the Telstra Foundation

Thanks to the Telstra Foundation’s Tech4Good challenge, Infoxchange is thrilled to announce we’ve received funding to develop a voice-activated assistant for Ask Izzy.

Ask Izzy is a mobile website that connects people in need with housing, a meal, money help and much more, and lists more than 360,000 services across Australia.

Using $450,000 received from the Telstra Foundation, the Ask Izzy voice assistant will help disrupt the cycle of youth homelessness by providing a more conversational and personalised way for young people in need to connect to support and services.

It will also make it easier for people with English as a second language, low literacy, limited hand dexterity or vision impairment to find help nearby.

Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs says the Ask Izzy voice assistant is an innovative solution to help address youth homelessness in Australia.

“Youth homelessness in Australia is a bigger problem than many people realise. Every night 116,000 Australians are sleeping rough, and nearly 40 percent of those people are under the age of 25,” says David.

“Not only will a voice assistant help users access the information they need quickly; it also enables us to address some accessibility challenges whilst also providing a two-way human connection for users,” says David.

Since Ask Izzy was launched in early 2016, there have been more than 1.5 million searches for help on the site. Data from the last financial year shows that people aged 26 and under make up just over a third of all Ask Izzy users.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to develop this new technology for Ask Izzy, which will help break the cycle of youth homelessness before things spiral out of control,” says David.

The funding announcement comes off the back of our involvement in Telstra’s Tech4Good Challenge, which aims to empower not-for-profits to develop new digital ideas to address some of the accessibility and inclusion challenges facing young and disadvantaged Australians.

After five months of weekly contact sessions to develop our idea for the Ask Izzy voice assistant, our proposal was pitched to the Telstra Foundation Board and we were selected as one of 15 not-for-profits to receive additional funding to build our ideas.

With Telstra’s support we’ve already co-designed a prototype of the assistant with help from young people, and we’ll be developing the final product over the next two years.

Ask Izzy was developed by Infoxchange in partnership with Google,   r  and News Corp Australia.


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