Is it Good to be Dis’connected?

Wednesday 15th June 16:30 - 17:15

Thought Leaders Conference

Whether we like it or not, digital devices are everywhere. Some of us can barely put them down, and have developed unhealthy attachments to devices. While technology has many great benefits - enhancing learning, building communities, transforming self-management of health; technology can also interfere with everything from sleep and creativity to cognitive, social and emotional development, to increased sedentary behaviour.

With over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents not being sufficiently physically active - is there a balanced role for digital technology or is it best to be ‘dis’ connected? This session will explore how to enhance the positive effects of digital technology and the potential to mitigate the negative, exploring the latest insights and evidence, future digitalisation trends, behaviour change and health management.

Chaired by Dr William Bird MBE


Dr William Bird MBE

GP and CEO

Intelligent Health

William has helped transform the health of millions of people across the UK through innovative initiatives he has developed. As a family GP, he began to get his patients more active by setting up the first Health Walk scheme in April 1996. This led to him creating the Green Gym one year later as he realised that companionship and contact with nature were major driving forces in keeping people active.

As CEO and Founder of Intelligent Health, William developed the hugely successful Beat the Street programme which has encouraged more than 500,000 people across the world to get moving and improve their health. William’s leadership has grown the company from just three employees to an innovative industry leader in promoting physical activity.

Ever since he was a child, William has been fascinated by the connection between humans and their environment, so it was inevitable he would set up a company whose aim to improve health through community interventions. Dr William Bird said: “Our bodies are meant to be active and we’re designed to be connected to nature. We’re hunter-gatherers and our bodies currently exist in an alien environment of being indoors all the time and living under artificial lights and so on. Owing to this, our bodies respond with chronic inflammation which leads to cancer and long-term illness.

“The technology behind our programmes is an enabler to make the game simple and accessible to a whole population. The real aim of the game is to get people moving and connect them to their place.”
William has worked as a GP since 1991 and has been awarded ‘Innovation Doctor of the Year’ in 1996 and ‘Innovation Team of the Year in 1997’. In 2015, he was voted as one of the top 30 most influential conservationists in the UK by BBC Wildlife Magazine, named by The Independent as one of the top 100 people making Britain a happier place, and in 2010 was appointed MBE for services for health and physical activity.
He has worked for the World Health Organisation to develop a physical activity strategy for the Middle East which is now being implemented in many of the countries there and also worked on an innovative project for the Met Office, developing Health Forecasting that has resulted in heat health forecasts, cold weather forecasts and forecasting workload for the NHS.

As a result of his substantive knowledge and experience in nature, health and physical activity, William is also heavily in demand as a speaker: delivering addresses to many conferences and organisations including Yale University, American Medical Association, British Medical Association, Local Government Association and The Wildlife Trust.

He adds: “I like to think way beyond the current constraints of normal healthcare; developing innovative projects that will have a lasting and meaningful change for the health and wellbeing of entire communities.”

Alex Peacock

Chief Commercial Officer


As Chief Commercial Officer, Alex leads growth and customer engagement for SweatWorks - the leading global technology agency for the fitness and wellness industry. With over two decades of experience in building and scaling companies across the fitness technology space, Alex was previously CEO of Netpulse, a leading provider of branded apps to fitness operators, which was acquired by EGYM in 2018. Prior to Netpulse, he established and led Zoom Media’s operations in Europe for 10 years.

Phill Wright

Business Transformation Manager


Following 8 years in the military, Phill pursued a passion for health and fitness, initially as a personal trainer before establishing a training company and then going on to setting up and running a large gym. Phill has over 15 years of experience within sport and physical activity and is fully committed to helping to drive the recognition that sector professionals and volunteers receive. He has worked for the last 3 years as part of the CIMSPA team with a focus on insight and innovation.

Alex Zurita

Head of Sport Tech Hub

London Sport

Alex Zurita is London Sport’s Head of Sport Tech Hub, with responsibility for shaping its strategic commitments to supporting technology, data and digital initiatives designed to raise levels of participation in physical activity and sport in the capital and beyond.

Alex has led Sport Tech Hub’s delivery since its inception, supporting over 45 tech ventures which, between them, have reached more than 130,000 Londoners and raised over £5.5m of investment.

Alex joined London Sport in 2011 with brief stints as Great Britain Women’s Football Team Manager, and a secondment to the London Legacy Development Corporation as Programme Manager for the post-London 2012 legacy and multimillion-pound project - Active People, Active Park.

Having used technology and data while coaching football with grassroots and international players, Alex is a committed technophile, a widely-recognised advocate for the role of technology and open data in boosting participation in physical activity and sport, and a champion of the importance of sport for the future health of London and its residents.