Mar - Oct 2011Role: Project management, Service design, contextual research, co-creation, service prototyping
More than 70 percent of the homeless population in London own a mobile phone. They keep their mobile phone on, at least, even though they do not have credit to send SMS and call.
Homeless SMS seeks to create a supportive community using mobile phones as the delivery channel, and makes use of basic services including SMS and Twitter. By using Twitter as a platform to send and receive SMS to and from its users, it requires no dedicated or costly technology.
The service was co-developed with a group of homeless people and homeless service providers in central London. Along the whole process of the project, ranging from conducting research and conceptualising system to prototyping service, their engagements to the project has incrementally grown from passive subjects to active contributors who expressed their own voice and creativity. Managing these engagements was my important role dealing with their vulnerabilities caused by circumstances.
The service enables the homeless to be connected to other homeless people, workers in homeless charities and to volunteers. Through this connectivity, a community develops in which users interact via SMS and Twitter, asking and answering each other’s questions and befriending or psychologically supporting homeless people.
Homeless SMS proactively manages the communication channels, distributing regular information-updates, encouraging engagement while at the same time guiding users’ involvement in a positive and trustworthy manner.
The project carried out with Will Brayne, the founder of Homeless SMS and mentoring of Vincenzo Di Maria (Common Ground), Professor Pieter Jan Stappers and Dr. Annemiek van Boeijen (TU Delft).
Many workers working with homeless people were contributed to the project:
Ben Richardson (The Connection at St Martins, Homeless day centre)
Val Stevenson (The Pavement, magazine) Sheila Scoot and Louie Salvoni (Shelter from the Storm, homeless hostel) Sylvia Valasquez (Migration Resource Centre, education and advocacy) France Couelle (Psychotherapist) and Jim Carracher (Volunteer outreach worker).
More than 50 people who have experienced homelessness participated in the project. The key contributors who co-designed the service concept are: Vijay, Andreij, Castina, Mustapha, Jateen and Michiel.
Homeless charities in a partnership:
Feedback of using the early phase prototype service for one week
Testimonial of Ben Richardson from The Connection
Showcase presentation at the Social Cities of Tomorrow, Amsterdam
Access to experiences in relation to geographic information
Elicit people's experience about homelessness along a time
Probe homeless person's social relationship established during homelessness
The feedback from users who tested the pilot service more than 4 weeks. (Below videos were filmed with the participants' consent)