Now there’s an iPhone app for community engagement

An extra bonus from the ABCD conference in Manchester last week was meeting two community mobilisers, Corrina Milner and Andy MacDermott, with their iPhone app for engaging with people in Milton Keynes.

Mobile apps are the little programmes that work on smartphones, and increasingly on desktop computers, to handle specific tasks. Initially they were for basics like calendars, databases, and email but now there are thousands of them.

Community mobilisers are out in the community hearing about people’s concerns and issues they want raised with the council and other agencies, and also picking up ideas for action. As Corrina and Andy explained to me, it can be difficult to capture a lot of conversations during the day and make sure that they are forwarded to other people, or gathered for future action.

The iPhone app allows that to be done through text or photos. Back in the office, the conversations captured on the iPhone can be reviewed in real time. Corrina explains that they find content can be categorised as ideas, interests, issues and also as impacts – when changes have occurred.

I was particularly excited to find the app in use because it confirmed a prediction that I reported the other day from Steve Dale, at a seminar on the Business of Collaboration, when he said that the future of online sharing is mobile, appified and people-centred.

I think that the development will interest Linda Quinn, the director of communications and marketing at Big Lottery Fund, who told me earlier she would like to see apps playing a part in People Powered Change. Andy says he can see a future in which residents are using the app for themselves – not just to report issues, but find solutions from others in the community.

Both Corrina and Andy emphasised at the end of our conversation that they believed that the community and voluntary sector should embrace new technology – not to replace face-to-face or telephone contact, but to complement and amplify it. There’s clearly scope for testing the app in other situations – so I hope BIG or other agencies might put it on the list of innovative solutions they wish to promote.

The app is not yet in the official App store, because some bugs need ironing out. Here are some screen shots of the app in action, I hope to get a more detailed specification later.

 

Meanwhile you can see Steve Dale’s excellent presentation here.

3 Comments.

  1. David – thanks for the mention and link to my Business of Collaboration presentation. I’m very interested in the iPhone App you mention and will look out for it when it gets released. Apart from anything else, this is an example of how mobile technology is bridging the “digital divide”, bringing easy to use but quite sophisticated software and applications to a much wider cohort and adding a new dimension into how we engage with others. It sounds like you’re involved in a really interesting project. Will keep an eye on developments.

    p.s. I think the spellchecker modified the words in the link reference – it should be “sharing is mobile, appified and people-centred”. :smile:

  2. Steve – a few more and we’ll have a social app store! Anyone know of others in this field?
    Corrected the link

    • Very interesting to learn of this App – we have focussed our own App to capture, manage and share audio and video responses (along with quantitative data), you can view our iPad2 solution here: http://www.miituu.com

      It captures stories in a structured way ensuring all multimedia content is easily searchable and shareable – this solution is being used by organisations who are having to record, manage and share hundreds of hours of multimedia content.

      You can view an example of how Creative Scotland used it here:
      http://vimeo.com/32270881

      Or how Patient Information Forum used it here:
      http://vimeo.com/31081795

      miituu is currently only for the iPad2 but happy to chat through what we have planned for early 2012 in more detail if of interest.

      Regards,
      mm