This afternoon I’ve popped in to see the presentations from this weekend’s EdinburghApps event, being held at the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum. As usual for my liveblogs, all comments and edits are very much welcomed.
EdinburghApps, which also ran in 2014, is a programme of events organised by Edinburgh City Council (with various partners) and generating ideas and technology projects to address key social challenges. This year’s events are themed around health and social care (which have recently been brought together in Scotland under the Public Bodies Joint Working Bill for Health and Social Care Integration).
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be part of the full weekend but this presentation session will involve participants presenting the projects they have been coming up with, addressing health and social care challenges around five themes (click to see a poster outlining the challenge):
- Where will they walk
- Everyone included
- The sweet point of making Change
- Older people & social care
- Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes: Turn & face the strange
And so, over to the various teams (whose names I don’t have but who I’m quite sure the EdinburghApps team will be highlighting on their blog in the coming weeks!)…
Meet Up and Eat Up
This is Ella, an International Student at UoE. Meets people at events but wants to grow her network. She sees a poster for a “Meet Up and Eat Up” event, advertising food and drinks events for students to get together. She creates a profile, including allergies/preferences. She chooses whether to attend or host a meal. She picks a meal to attend, selects a course to bring, and shares what she will bring. She hits select and books a place at the meal…
So on the night of the meal everyone brings a course… (cue some adorable demonstration). And there is discussion, sharing of recipes (facilitated by the app), sharing of images, hashtags etc… Ratings within the app (also adorably demonstrated).
So, Ella shares her meal, she shares the recipe in the app…
Q) Just marketed to students or other lonely people?
A) Mainly at students, and international students in particular as we think they are particularly looking for those connections, especially around holidays. But we’d want more mixing there, might put it into freshers week packs, introductory stuff…We might need to also arrange some initial meals to make this less intimidating… maybe even a Freshers week(s) event – there are five universities in town so opportunity to have mixing across those groups of students.
Game of Walks
Our challenge was to encourage walking to school so our audience was children, parents but also schools. We have turned our challenge into Game of Walks…
So, we’d find some maps of good walks to schools, routes that are longer but also safe… And along the route there would be sensors and, as you walk past, an image – appropriate to a theme in the curriculum – would appear on the pavement… So the kid will be a team and looks for an image appropriate for their team (e.g. sharks vs jellyfish).
Now, when we tested this out we discovered that kids cheat! And may try to rescan/gather the same thing. So it will randomly change to avoid that. And each week the theme will change…
So, there is also a tech angle here… We would have a wide field sensor – to trigger the device – and a narrow field sensor would enable the capturing of the thing on the walk… So that’s arduino operated. And you’d have 3D printed templates for the shape you need – which kids could print at school – so you’d just need a wee garden ornament type thing to trigger it. And once a week the kids would gather that data and see who won…
Q1) How expensive will these be?
A1) Tried to pick sensors and devices that are cheap and cheerful. Arduino nanos are very inexpensive. LEDs probably more expensive… But keep it cheap, so if vandalised or stolen you can either repair or deal with loss.
Q2) How would you select the locations for the sensors… ?
A2) We thought we’d get parents and schools to select those… Encourage longer routes… The device will have that badge until collected… If lots of kids in the same place there’ll be a constant procession which could be tricky… Want, in a zone around the school, where you’d have smaller groups this would trigger.
Q3) Who programmes the Arduino
A3) Lots of schools teach Arduino, so could get the kids involved in this too, also the shapes, the data collection and users. And you will have footfall data as part of that capture which would also be interesting… Maybe get kids involved in potentially moving the sensors to new places because of lots/not enough footfall…
Comment) I think that’s exciting, getting the kids involved in that way…
Team Big Data
Note: this is almost certainly not their name, but they didn’t share their team name in their presentation.
So, I’m a user for our system… My mum has just recovered from cancer and I’m quite concerned about my own risk… So my friend suggested a new app to find out more… So I enter my data… And, based on a bigger data set my risks are calculated. And as a user I’m presented with an option for more information and tips on how to change… The database/system offers a suggestion of how to improve his practice… And maybe you reject some suggestions, so receive alternative ideas… And the app reminds you… In case you forget to cut back on your sausages… And based on those triggers and reminders you might update your personal data and risk… And the user is asked for feedback – and hopefully improves what they do…
Q1) What stuff is going to be worked on… What would be held?
A1) We did a demonstration with a computer sharing all of your data in one place… It’s currently in lots of different places… We did a few simple designs that holds all the data of the users… Not trying to be the big brothers… We presented the user experience… But not so much the behind the scenes stuff…
Q2) How does the app know about the beer count? (part of the demo)
A2) We demonstrated this as an app but it could be a website, or something else… You can perhaps get that data based on purchase history etc. The user doesn’t have to do anything extra here, its using existing data in different places. Also people often share this stuff on Facebook.
Comment) You have tackled a really difficult problem… You’ve made a good start on this… It’s such a massive behavioural change to do…
Comment) Many people are happy to volunteer data already…
Q3) How do you convince Tesco to share data with this app?
A3) I think you’d need to have an agreement between NHS and Tesco… For a new form of membership where you opt into that sharing of data.
Comment) Might be a way to encourage people to sign up for a ClubCard, if there was a benefit for accuracy and advice in the app.
A3) Maybe also there are discounts that
Comment) Maybe bank cards is a better way to do that. So there may be a way to join up with those organisations looking at being able to link up with some of these…
A3) This idea isn’t any kind of competition… Might give you ideas about data access…
Comment) I was just wanting to raise the issue that if you were working with, e.g. Tesco, you’d need to also get data from other large and small companies and working with one company may put others off working for you – incentivising users to, e.g. get a ClubCard, isn’t going to incentivise, say, Sainsbury’s to work with you with the data they hold. There are also data protection issues here that are too complex/big to get into.
Note: this is a charming father/son team including our youngest participant, a boy named Archie who seems to be around 9 or 10 years old (and is clearly a bit of a star).
So this is an app to help people with cognitive impairments to engage and communicate with the younger generation. Maybe a teen, Billy Boy, wants to help out his Grandad, who has had a stroke… So Grandad has an app, and Billy Boy has a reciprocal App. They have slightly different versions.. And they can exchange pictograms… Billy Boy can prompt Grandad to brush their teeth, or do other things to keep in touch and check in… Grandad can ask Billy Boy how he’s doing…
Q1) How do you get this working over SMS?
A1) Would actually be messaging system, which could use words as well as pictures… Perhaps as time goes on you could change it so different people with different cognitive impairments could use it – e.g. number of stars so you could indicate how well you were eating. Also there would be some messaging between, say, carer, homehelp, relatives etc. So that all of those engaged in care can share updates, e.g. that Grandad has been taken to hospital…
Q2) What do you want to do next?
A2) We were looking at Meteor that lets you chain server, iPhone and Android apps together and they have a really nice chat room style system, for public or private chat rooms. So we would look to create plugins for that for pictograms and the right sort of mix of public and private messages. And bring together people involved based on the care package that person has.
Q3) Can this be done so that Billy Boyd can use his existing messaging apps could tie into that?
A3) It may be that there are ways to do that. Often there are things to integrate things together… Tools to post to multiple sites at once, so could maybe use that…
Q4) Could you compare our big data approach to yours?
A4) This isn’t really big data. The intelligence isn’t really in the application, it’s in the people who are involved in the care and using the apps who have the intelligence.
Q5) Do you think people would be able to learn these sorts of pictograms?
A5) We’d have to see… But there are some simple things you can do – like the stars. But people retiring now include those used to working with technology… So pensioners are getting more adept at these things. People will adopt new technology.
Q5) Have you heard of a thing called Talking Mats. It’s a communication tool for people with dementia using pictures. Would be good to look into that, and how that could fit together.
A5) There are lots of things out there… Doing parts of this. And part of this idea is about getting teenagers involved too.
Q6) How about animated gifs?
A6) Lots of the development would be about what people actually need to know… Have a friend who calls to check her ageing relative has had a shave, or what they did today.
Comment) One nice next step might be to test out that pictogram language, see if they find that works, including teenagers and older people…
A) Debating what a bank or a school or shop might look like, for instance…
Closing Comments – Keira (We Are Snook) and Sally Kerr (Edinburgh City Council)
Keira: We have so many new ideas, and we started yesterday with our challenges but nothing else. Obviously a two day hack has its limitations… It’s not the way to get things perfect. But we have the opportunity now to come together again in a few weeks time (27th Feb)
Sally: So our next event is here (University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum) as well, on Saturday 27th February. Then after that midway event there will be pitch session on Sunday 13th March. We’ll contact you all, share information on the blog, get challenge owners on the blog… And get you to the next stage.
Keira (We Are Snook): So I’m going to hand out a wee plan for the next few weeks so that you can get your ideas ready, the milestones for your journey, who the key actors are, who will do what. You should have left team outlines to me, and forms that will help us share your ideas with others too. And we’d welcome your feedback on the event as well. And finally I have one of our Snook plywood phones for Archie (our very youngest participant at around 10) for prototyping lots of app ideas!
And with that, the day was done – although conversations continued over coffee and KitKats. A really interesting set of ideas though, and I’m told there is another team who will be along at the next sessions but weren’t able to make the show and tell today. I would recommend keeping an eye on the EdinburghApps website or @EdinburghApps on Twitter for more updates. I’ll certainly be eager to find out if we (my colleagues at EDINA and I) can offer any technical help as some of these ideas progress further.