Mar 132016
 

This afternoon I’m at the EdinburghApps Final Pitch event, being held at the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum. As usual for my liveblogs, all comments and edits are very much welcomed. 

EdinburghApps, is a programme of events organised by Edinburgh City Council (with various partners) to generate ideas and technology projects addressing key social challenges. This year’s Edinburgh Apps event has been 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).

The event has run across several weeks, starting with an Inception weekend (on 6th & 7th Feb, which I blogged some of here), then a midway catch up/progress day (held on 27th Feb – you may have seen me tweet from this), and culminating in today’s final pitch event, at which we’ll hear from previous winners, as well as this year’s teams. The challenges they have been addressing around health and social care challenges fall under five headings (click to see a poster outlining the challenge):

Sally Kerr, Edinburgh City Council

Welcome to our final pitch event!

EdinburghApps is designed by the Council to explore how new approaches and new ideas can inform what we do. So, to start with, we are going to hear from some of our previous winners.

ARC-Edinburgh – Anne Marie Mann & Ella Robbins

Anne-Marie: We started this app to address Addiction recovery back at Edinburgh Apps in October 2014 – which we won!

So our app – a smartphone app just called ARC  (http://www.arcapp.co.uk) – is  an App to support those in Addition recovery, helping them to track progress, boost motivation, and connect to the Recovery Network in Edinburgh.

Key features of our app are a guide to local meetings, AA, NA, etc. We also have a motivation and reflection section which includes motivational quotes, mindfulness resources, and we also have a “Need Help?” section which connects the individual to our Emergency section. In this section we connect the user to their key contacts, they select these at set up and can send a pre-populated text asking for support.

But there is more here. We had an idea, now we have an app, a company, a community… And Robin is going to talk more about that.

Ella: I don’t think when we first had our idea we knew what would happen next. We worked with Jana at the City Council to create a proposal for a developer – we aren’t developers we just had an idea. We hired a developer – through Anne Marie – and he’s been the third part of this project the whole way through, and that’s Dave Morrison, University of St Andrews.

When we had the team we researched the market. We had access to a close friend with addiction issues who was able to give us an insight into needs and requirements. But we looked at what else was out there. We connected to Dave Williams at the council who connected us to Serenity Cafe, which helps addicts in recovery.

We then set up our company, which we run outside our full time work and care responsibilities. We then went into an intenside user requirements and design process – drawing out every screen of our app before anything was built. We created a project plan, we worked out a marketing plan, and we set about launching our app.

The Council’s role was funding – which was great – but also project management. We had regular meetings to check in and check progress. The council were also essential to that relationship to Serenity Cafe, and that local and specific expertise of Dave Williams. Those contacts, access to market research, and knowledge and experience helped us hugely, particularly to overcome challenges as we went along. The Council provided guidance. On a practical level the Council also undertook printing and distribution of marketing materials and crucial advocacy.

In terms of our reflections on this process… It has been hard work and took longer than we thought. I work in marketing in my day job so this was a huge change and learning opportunity for use. We’ve had to manage a whole range of stakeholders who we wouldn’t normally have worked with, managing expectations, undertaking user requirements, etc. was a huge opportunity. It was a real chance to help people of Edinburgh and has been enormously rewarding.

So, the app is out now and we’ll be giving it a big proper launch very soon!

Q&A

Q1) Can you see yourself doing another app now that you’ve done this?

A1 – Anne Marie) Ella just had a promotion at work, I’m just finishing my PhD, so not right now but I can see us doing more in the future.

A1 – Ella) Absolutely, sometime in the future, but not right now.

Run the City – Jenny Tough

This came out of Edinburgh Apps 2015, our team was Kate, Jenny and Hilde (aka Small, Medium and Tall). We all lived in different cities and had travelled to other places a lot so had lots of ideas about what we might do – probably 8 ideas, a bunch we pitched, but the one we settled on was Run the City…

So the idea was that running can be a brilliant way to explore a new city and get to know it, and as a traveller it would be great to have some guidance on the best routes etc. So, we proposed a mobile app that would be engaging, and have a minimum of 5 routes through the city, and would interoperate with other running apps – so you can capture all your running stats as you normally would. It was going to need to work on iOS and Android, and be easy to add these routes to.

So, myself and Jamie Sutherland (@Wedgybo) eventually took things forward – both of us are seasoned international runners.

We did some scoping on what runners would want and they really wanted a mixture of green routes and city routes, to not just be the key tourist areas. And that there needed to be different distances and difficulties, as well as th ebest local spots to run. I started out dropping key pins on the map based on Council data. But we also tried lots of routes out – running those routes, testing them out, making sure that worked.

The kind of data we were using was data on monuments in Parks and greenspaces. There were also trees with stories, parks in the city (with opening hours etc) and we came up with five routes…

The first of these routes is the City Centre Highlights and History, which starts on Calton Hill but also takes in Grassmarket etc. The second route is Edinburgh Green Route – for those wanting to enjoy great places to run but not neccassarily interested in the history. The third is around Hermiston Gait, which is actually beautiful. The fourth is the Water of Leith – and we had audio we could draw on here which was brilliant. And finally we had the Seven Hills of Edinburgh – a really difficult route but essential as an unofficial race does this route every year.

Jamie used Ionic framework which is based on AngularJS and ues Cordova for hybrid app. And we used FireBase to create the routes – and that looks really simple for me editing routes in the app.

We rang weekly test runs – in place of meetings! Edinburgh Apps gets you fit!

We sent the app to beta testers as it was, without instructions for accurate results. And there was mixed feedback on the runs and on the technical side of the app too.

In terms of what we found were difficult, and what we learned. We found audio placement difficult to define for different paces (i.e. walkers vs very fast runners) – and that only worked by testing it at those paces. The catchment area of audio points was also extremely hard to fine tune (e.g. which side of the road). But there was also the issue of the seasonability of Edinburgh – daylight time being an aspect, but also things like differences in route for festivals etc since footfall changes a lot. We also found that app simulator really didn’t give us a good idea of what worked and what didn’t – th eonly way to do that was test it with running.

The future for run the city. The MVP was recently launched and is available in the App Store right now. We have route development in siz new international cities currently underway. But doing more here is really a challenge when fitting this around other day jobs and responsibilities. So we are also testing monetisation strategies – events, in-app purchases, advertising to make that development work possible.

So, do try the app, give us your feedback.

Q&A

Q1) What is the audio?

A1) It’s the directions – turn left, turn right, etc. But also the things you are seeing and experiencing.

Q2) And how easily could that be changed? Is the audio geocoded? Have you considered iBeacons if they become more popular/available?

A2) The audio is tied to pins on the map added in FireBase. We have been considering iBeacons certainly.

Q3) Could you crowdsource the routes?

A3) Sure, but it can take a lot of work to develop the routes. But the running community online is big and active so I definitely think that that’s the way forward.

Sally: And now we have the really exciting part of the day, the pitches from our teams! So, lets start with Game of Walks…

A Game of Walks (#agameofwalks) – Gary

The team for this project was Elena (@atribeofneli), Katie (@hiccuo42), Lorna (@LornaJa23511553), Mischa, Gary (@garycmartin), Mohammed.

The project we were walking on with Sustrans was to encourage children to walk more. The idea is that with a school groups we gamify the walk to school. And to also include some level of STEM, as well as art as they get to design some parts of the system. The second weekend was rather fun as we prototyped the system.

The idea is that children are in different team groups, collecting a particular animal shape. Then they get to choose the animal shape for the next week’s challenge. The idea is that you place these devices across the walk to school you encourage walking to school, use of safe walking routes, and some gameplay.

So we are using Arduino with sensors… And walking part triggers the light. The units wait a set period, then select randomly but equally a shape to show (of three). And then triggering will show another shape. Each animal shows around 10 minutes – and you need to collect it. If it’s someone else’s shape then you don’t collect it. So other walkers, cats, dogs etc. may trigger the system but it should be random and unbiased. And when they capture that shape maybe they share it on their blog, league tables within the school etc. And the units use little gobo selectors so you can theme and change those as you want (e.g. easter, christmas, halloween), etc.

So the units are all 3D pieces (18-20 hours per unit and all the pieces). They aren’t quite ready for outdoors yet, but the battery life isn’t bad – 35-45 hours right now but could easily be set up to do a week. And you could also set up the units to only capture/be active during school run hours.

So, where we are now is that we want to do some school events – fairs or festivals or similar – to test them in a contained environment. But I’d be keen for feedback from teachers, teaching assistants, etc. who would be keen to use these with kids in a real environment.

Q&A

Q1) You said they aren’t waterproof at the moment?

A1) Not at the moment… You could take these and insulate the electronics on the inside so that they don’t corrode. If you wanted them more long term you could do more. The idea is to make these cheap and accessible – it’s about £12 in 3D printing material, and about £10 electronics, so relatively cheap and therefore not a big deal if they go missing. But actually you could fit most of the electronics in a poster boards – on a single image on the paper with a wireframe in that poster – which would be lovely. So, the form factor (units) isn’t essential.

Lots you could do here, like installing units that capture footfall data when game isn’t in place so that you have a baseline of data to give you some idea of how busy it is on a given route, and if the Game of Walks is making a difference.

Sally: We did test these units with colleagues at the council… And discovered just how competitive our adult colleagues were!

Meet & Eat: A recipe for Friendship – Beata and Annabella

Beata: The idea is basically dinner for strangers! Our mission statement was to help prevent loneliness amongst Edinburgh’s student population. The challenge owner was the NHS who highlighted the issue of loneliness, and that that is often about transitions in life of all sorts, including moving away from home/becoming a student. And this is a big problem. 68% of adults say that they feel alone, either often, sometimes or always. And 18-34 age group is most affected. Lack of personal contact can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So we really wanted to find a way to help.

Annabella: We thought that a great way to address this would be through food – as we all need to eat. So, our example Meet and Eat user is Jin. Jin is a 20 year old engineering student at Heriot Watt. Studies are fine, but he misses his family and friends from home. He sometimes finds it hard to make friends outside of class – initially language was an issue but it isn’t now… But he doesn’t have that network of friends and support. But Jin walks through university and sees a poster on the wall for Meet and Eat. He signs up and decides to join a dinner at his student union. He feels safe going to an event there and decides, being Japanese, he’s going to take sushi as his dish for the dinner. He meets new friends with things in common, and they can take it from there.

So, that’s the idea basically. Students are often early adopters of tech but we wanted to have a location for events that was safe and neutral – and accommodating of students who don’t have room for, say 5 people.

So, we tried to run two test events. The first was to be at Glasgow School of Art but that was in reading week. We ran another in Fountainbridge. We only had one student along but he gave us great feedback. He said first years are much much more open to this. Freshers week is when people are open to meeting people, starting events there would make people more likely to come. And we need better advertising.

Moving forward we would like to popularise the concept using existing social media, university intranet and forum platforms. We’d like to create a welcome pack for partnering with universities and include that in freshers week. And maybe that could lead to student Meet & Eat societies. If we get that buy in we think we could go forward with the app idea, but we need more market research and marketing support.

What we need is marketing assistance, links to universities – we have links with GSA and Napier. But we also need business advice, and we’d like more people for our team. We have work, university… a cat… But not sure how best to fit this in – although we’ve been inspired by the presentations that we’ve already seen.

Q&A

Q1) At least some students in first year of Edinburgh have catered food, not as likely to be able to participate.

A1 – Annabella) That’s a good point, which we hadn’t considered.

Q2) The office for social responsibility and sustainability in Edinburgh sponsored Global Sustainability Jam which led to an app called Fridge Friend – aimed at reducing waste by sharing with others.

A2 – Annabella) When we did some market research we also looked at supermarkets who recycle or discount food. We thought offers etc. might be encouraging and motivating.

Q2) There is also a thing called Food Share in Edinburgh who you might want to look at.

A2 – Beata) We looked at that but we think we need people engaged before we can do some of those partnership. In our research we came across Freedom who also use food waste in their cooking.

Q3) How do people get in touch if interested?

A3 – Annabella) We have meetandeatscotland@gmail.com

A3 – Beata) And a Facebook group as well.

Chattercare – Archie and his Dad 

This was initially designed to address people with cognitive issues… We are all social hubs, connecting with friends and families and neighbours… But when people have cognitive disadvantages they lose connections, those bonds are broken… People lose touch..

So, our idea is to enable communication between different people. So, the person with cognitive disadvantages can connect, but those people can also connect and exchange information between each other. We were really thinking about informal communication. From my perspective, when my great aunt had a stroke, you find yourself looking after someone with no idea of where to start… How do you wash a person in a wheelchair? What’s the new medication and possible side effects – how do I share that with others involved in care? For my great aunt she kept saying “miss miss” and had no idea what that meant – but actually she was wishing people a “Merry Christmas”.

So, how do you share that information? There are interest groups across similar carers; there are people caring for an individual – often many people involved; and messaging for one to one engagement; and we wanted some adaptive technology enabling the individual with cognitive difficulties to take part to. And so, that’s our idea.

And now… A live demo…

We are using a platform called Rocket Chat (Note: this looks like/may be a close relative to Slack) which is available for PCs, Macs, Web browsers, Tablets, Mobiles (iOS and Android). But we require lots of modifications… We will just show some examples here…

Lets call our home help “Jane Austen”. So Jane subscribed to a general #wheelchairusers channel, but she also is part of a homehelps private chat group for more specific questions.

“Mary Shelley” is our supervisor for home helps… And she subscribes to #wheelchairusers as well as #strokerecovery. But she is also part of direct message conversations with “Barbara Cartland” – the daughter of a patient who is interested in pensions. And also a private group for “Jack Faust” – an individual who needs care and help, this would be private to those caring for him. So Barbara Cartland asks for an update and his grandson “Billy Boy” sends an update and image from his visit.

So, what is ChatterCare since there is an application already there? Well it would be about customisation, and the idea would be that all communications are in one place; there is an opportunity for some oversight – so for instance the Stroke Recovery group could be monitored by the Council, to share authoritative information, expel myths, share resources known to be good. And eventually we’d really want some adaptive tech. It would be great to have the individual with cognitive difficulties directly involved, but they will all have very different needs and requirements, which is why that would be a later thing requiring further development.

Note: no questions here, so onto our final team… 

Open Doors – Laura & Team Open Doors

Loneliness is a huge issue in the UK and it needs to be dealt with soon. Over 1.7 million people over 65 can go a week without having contact with someone they know, of these 1.1 million can go a month without that sort of contact. So, our idea is an app called OpenDoors which will be simple and intuitive and is designed for older people.

Elderly people are quite keen to use new technology, but modern technology can have too many confusing functions and applications that they will never need. So, for this app we plan to use very large icons, make it visual and intuitive, add only the necessary functions and features. And we want it to be very consistent so the users always know what they are doing.

We talked to people who tried to do this before and we think the biggest challenge would be getting people to join this sort of social network. There are now 11 million people in the UK over 65 (AgeUK 2016) but only 28% using social media. So, we want to start with Elderly people in Edinburgh, working with family members as elderley people are more likely to use technology if a family member uses it and introduces it. We also plan to promote our service and network at offline events, including those run by the council. And we plan to have a listing of local events to encourage meeting and engagement. We will also look at TV ads, as TV is used by older people to manage loneliness.

We think this idea also has the potential to save the NHS money, since loneliness can have such detrimental mental and physical health effects.

Our initial idea was that we would create a simple button-like device to access Open Doors but, for safety reasons, we decided a standard tablet or mobile app would be more productive. The users of our app will be both the elderly individuals and anyone who is familiar with the mainstream mobile devices.

We haven’t tested the app yet but we have interviewed elderly people, researchers, and UX experts to get their input. We also have an event coming up at the end of the month. And we have designed the prototype app, to include clear easy to use functions, chat, etc. But to make our idea a reality we would need to develop our OpenDoors app to also work offline, so that it is more flexible.

Rahma: The app is very simple, big clear icons, and you can look at family members, view our friends very easily, make a call, or view chat. And, for the keyboard we have bigger icons/keyboard so it’s easier to type. Personal profiles let you add information. But this is a prototype…. We want to make it a real app that could be sold or available for free. So, for now we will develop the app and

Q&A

Q1) I would imagine that for your audience typing could be a challenge so autocomplete could be useful. Have you thought about customising that autocomplete/autocorrect for your users? My phone has autocorrect and autocomplete options… But those are biased to the model of what they think the user will say – so Californian tech comes up high in the options list. For your target population could you create a more appropriate model?

A1 – Laura) That would be possible. We were thinking of having voice commands for those with visual impairments. We haven’t considered what you were saying exactly, but it’s a really good piece of advice.

Q1) There is a team at Cambridge who helped Steven Hawking with this.

Q2) Most of us use a whole variety of tools right now… There is quite a wide list of tools in use in our family circle. If we all had to use one tool, we probably wouldn’t do that, but if that could stitch together existing tools that might work…

A2 – Laura) That’s what we want to do, to connect up some key tools but make it easier to engage with and use, making it more simple to use.

Q3) Great presentation. I have a comment about your user base… How will you develop your user base here? You need to think about how you get those early adopters first, to build up that interest to get to first 100 or 1000 users. Relying on Facebook or Twitter to find those family members won’t work.

A3 – Laura) Our marketing strategy is, for early adopters, to engage with the city, with the Council, and find users there. For app development and testing, and hopefully then expand out from there. Perhaps starting with computing clubs etc.

Sally: We have sadly reached the end of Edinburgh Apps and all the pitches will be on YouTube, and with the Council and Challenge Setters. My next step is to connect you to the right service owners, to help with next steps etc.

I want to thank all of the teams who took part. I know how much work it takes to get to this stage. I want to thank you personally for that work. And I also want to thank everyone who came along to support, to listen, etc. And, what we have for all the teams are some goodie bags. And I’d like all of the teams to come up here for huge round of applause!

Thank you again to you all! And do keep an eye online for all the videos!

And with that (and much rustling of goodie bags) we are done… ! 

Feb 072016
 

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):

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…

The Meet Up and Eat Up team demonstrate their app idea.

The Meet Up and Eat Up team demonstrate their app idea.

Q&A

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…

 

The Game of Walks team demo their idea for gamified school walks.

The Game of Walks team demo their idea for gamified school walks.

 

Q&A

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…

Team Big Data demo their idea for an app nudging good health and personal care through an app and big data risk/suggestion database.

Team Big Data demo their idea for an app nudging good health and personal care through an app and big data risk/suggestion database.

Q&A

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.

Simply SMS

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…

The Simply SMS team demo their idea for an app connecting lonely people across generations through pictogram messages.

The Simply SMS team demo their idea for an app connecting lonely people across generations through pictogram messages.

Q&A

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. 

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