1. Mobile Electronic Health Monitor for elderly

    Author: Michael Ward

    What NEED does this meet?

    The idea is to have a strap on watch like health monitor for elderly people which they would wear constantly, which can monitor there temperture, heart-beat, etc, ( other posiible vital signs – i am not a medic) which would transmit data to family & friends or medics over the internet via say a wifi connection in there home, When the data is a bit suspect it should alert the family and friends and/or send the information to the Hospital for an emergency – Would be of great assistance to old people, old people who who live alone, homeless and people who have health problems

    What is the APPROACH?

    Design a watch type device that can perform some basic health checks – the mobile and network technology is already there and can be easily (within reason) adapted.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Old people in the community can get better care faster, people who live alone will be better looked after, homeless would also be better looked after – Family would be immediately alerted to a health problem and can take action.
    Doctors called to an emergency would have valuable information that could be cruical in helping there patient

    What is the COMPETITION?

    I don’t know if other similar services exist out the – in my experience I have not found any.

    I believe this idea is benifical to the community and once up and runing can be build upon to provide additional services.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    I dont believe it would be very costly nor differcult – acceptance might be an issue but that could be overcome – But really I have no idea…

  2. find a support group

    Author: Helen

    What NEED does this meet?

    Sometimes people need the help of a support group, however it can be dificult to find them. This website would be a central database of support groups, creating one place to find support.

    What is the APPROACH?

    There are various websites that provide a database of support groups, but they are usually centred around a particular problem, eg: migranes, stopping smoking, etc. This would cover all support groups within the UK.
    Provision of a forum with channels for each category would enable people to share their problems and support ideas, providing a caring community.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    This would make people’s lives easier in that they won’t have to trawl the web and phone books looking for help. They could make one efficient stop to the website to find a support group and visit the forums for more help.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    Competition would be sites such as Boots.com, some government and doctors surgery sites, however these contain only a small number of selected support groups.
    This would rise above the competition in that it would be a site that encompasses all support groups and includes a forum.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    The site itself would be fairly simple, a mainly static site with a dynamic page for support groups to add themselves. Possibly an administrator who would verify and authorise the support groups before they are added.
    The other section of the website would be a forum. There are numerous free forums available and setup is relatively simple. A number of volunteers could be made moderators so ensure the forum is kept “clean”.

  3. A Virtual Air Flight Tax

    Author: Stewart Hartley

    What NEED does this meet?

    Anyone who flies on business or pleasure and feels even a wee bit guilty about the environmental damage incurred and would like to offset it.

    What is the APPROACH?

    Simply a set of links of sites to which flyers can make donations, plus a breakdown of the ‘value’ of a flight. In other words, what is the environmental cost of a flight to Mallorca or Miami. PayPal or similar could link to these sites.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    It wouldn’t make lives easier as such, except morally (which may not be a bad thing in itself). It would allow people to take an active part in working to reverse climate change, it would give some empowerment to those who feel disempowered while providing much-needed cash to those organisations which are trying to make a change.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    Similar services? Not that I know of on a world-wide level. I got the idea when coming back from a trip to Morocco. I was planning on travelling by train but was so exhausted I opted to fly from Málaga to Santander. I did feel bad about flying and donated a small sum to Ecologistas en Acción here in Spain. I am sure there are many other organisations around the planet which could benefit from this.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    It could be done for around €3,000 I expect, and most of the work would involve getting the site known to NGOs and others who work in the environmental field.

    Maintainence would be minimal and volunteers could do it.

  4. Local Borrowing Scheme

    Author: Al

    What NEED does this meet?

    A lot of physical equipment is held by people which is under-utilised; both in terms of manual equipment for gardens and intellectual assets like books. A system that allows people to know what is available locally and borrow it could enable a better community for all.

    What is the APPROACH?

    Based around postcode data and anonymised names, a database of ‘shared’ assets could be built up. A simple booking system would then allocate them as requested.

    This is basically a form of physical ‘peer-to-peer’ system.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Community groups, the poor and elderly can gain access to expensive or unusual equipement for temporary use without the hassle of renting or applying for grants.

    A sense of community based around the old ‘borrowing a cup of sugar’ idea is regained.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    Commercial rental companies exist for some of the larger items but should not be too affected (could be involved as part of their commercial charitable projects).

    Local libraries will be affected by some of the book and intellectual property borrowing.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    Main problem is engendering trust: i.e. will goods be returned in time. Idea does not currently have a reasonable reward (for allowing items to be borrowed)and punishment (for failure to return items) aspect.

    Second major issue is misuse of system as a burglars’ shopping list. Database must not show too much local data before user is checked and approved.

    Cost is based around web-design and database creation (also access to postcode database).

  5. Virtual Community Game

    Author: Martin Webb

    What NEED does this meet?

    This is an attempt to discourage youngsters from hanging around in groups on street corners and vandalising other people’s property out of boredom. The youth need to be encouraged to respect their fellow man, and work together to build a better community. Kids today are looking for ways to vent their frustration and exercise their intellect. This idea addresses all of the above criteria.

    What is the APPROACH?

    The plan is to create an online game along the lines of World of Warcraft or Eve Online that has taken the online gaming community by storm. The Warcraft game attracts millions of players who reap the benefits of working together in groups to achieve a common goal.

    I propose that our game be a complete multiplayer online event, played in real time. Players log in and download the game for free, and can play at their own pace, but within an online context.
    The rewards for completing various quests within the game will translate to real life benefits, like free internet access for a year, or vouchers for CD’s, etc.

    The game can be populated with advertisements (on walls or TV screens within the game, or as short interruptions to the game when in a safe area, for instance). This will help to pay for the running costs of the game.

    Players will learn to work with others to achieve a goal.
    The game will actively discourage fighting, abuse, or any sort of hierarchical or social bickering.

    All activity will be monitored to avoid abuse, bullying or exploitation of the game.
    The game will include a system whereby players can speak to each-other via headsets. This too will be monitored.

    The game will be made available to all children and teenagers, who will have to create a valid account to ascertain who they are to avoid abuse of the system. Nobody over a certain age (18?) should be allowed to create an account.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Parents will feel a lot more comfortable knowing where their children are on a Friday night – in the safety of their own home.
    Children will benefit from learning to work together with other people and form friendships with like-minded people.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    There are currently many virtual spaces that children visit. Chat rooms and the MSN service, to name but two. Online communities are huge.
    However, online games cost a fee for the game itself, and often a monthly subscription too.
    If our game is free (paid for by advertising in-game) then this will encourage a lot more children to play. Also, if it is exclusively aimed at children with a guarantee that no adult will ever be online, it will enhance the feeling of security.
    Adults will of course be online, but only as moderators and for technical support. This service will be in itself monitored by the game developers.

    Many children need something to do, and easily become bored. This will give them something to look forward to on evenings and the weekends.

    Advertisers within the game should include positive messages to eat healthily, promote sporting activities or become involved in world affairs.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    The initial building of the game will be the main source of budget allocation. Concept designers, writers and developers will have to use the latest computers to create the game.
    Once the game is released, advertising within it should recoup the costs of running the servers to host the game, and the game could forseeably start accruing revenue for the developers.

  6. Petition Bank

    Author: Matt Hall

    What NEED does this meet?

    The recent Power report into parlimentary reform recommended that any petition with more than 2 million signatories should be automatically given a referendum. The power of petitions on the internet seems to be something that could have a real impact. This idea attempts to make the gathering of petition signatories easier.

    This would benefit those seeking to engage with local politics and also serve to highlight national causes, bringing likeminded people together online.

    What is the APPROACH?

    How about a page like pledgebank where people can post petitions and sign up to them online. People could suggest petitions, with arguments for their point of view and what exactly the petition would address.

    Subsequently, petitions would be viewable online and sortable by area or issue and providing email addresses when siging-up means that mailing lists for signatories could be easily compiled for updates on the progess of the petition/issue.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    This would make it easier to engage with local politics and also mean that gathering large petitions on important single issues becomes far less labourious.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    I’ve not heard of anything exactly like this, but it has obvious similarities to pledgebank. In this case, however, the aim of the site is slightly different. rather than “i’ll do this if x other people do it with me” it’s more of “let’s let those in charge know that x people feel strongly about this”, which would seem nicely complimentary.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    Given that pledgebank is built and running, the amount of time and effort involved in constructing petitionbank would not appear to be that great.

  7. mySociety launches call for proposals

    Do you have a burning idea for a new mySociety site? We’ve just thrown open the doors on our new call for proposals. The prize is simple: if your idea wins through the grilling of your peers and the vetting of the mySociety team and our volunteers, we’ll build it. So, get posting!

    [EDIT] Don’t leave your proposals as comment here, go to the proper application form. The deadline is June 1st 2006.

  8. Time shifting

    So, we’ve been a bit quiet on this blog, but naturally busy. I just did my invoice and timesheet for last month, and remembered how bitty it has been. In one day I often do things to 3 websites, and that is just CVS commit messages – no doubt I handled emails for more. This makes it quite hard to summarise what has been happening, and also quite hard to measure how much time we spend maintaining each website.

    We’ve recently made a London version of PledgeBank, which I’ll remind Tom to explain about on the main news blog. It is a PledgeBank “microsite”, with a special query for the front page and all pledges page that shows only pledges in Greater London. Which is conveniently almost exactly a circle radius 25km with centre at 51.5N -0.1166667E. I worked that out by dividing the area (found on the Greater London Wikipedia page) by pi and taking the square root And rounding up a bit.

    Yesterday we launched a new call for proposals – head on over, and tell us your ideas for new civic websites. It is another WordPress modification, but this time to the very blog that you’re reading now. The form for submitting proposals I made anew, It creates a new WordPress low-privileged user by directly inserting into the database, and then calls the function wp_insert_post to create a post by them in a special category. The rest of the blogging software then trivially does comments, RSS, search, email alerts and archiving.

    Meanwhile, Chris has written some monitoring software for our servers, to alert us of problems and potential problems. Perl modules do the tests, things like enough disk space and that web servers that are up. I’ve been tweaking it a bit, for example adding a test to watch for long-running PostgreSQL queries which indicate a deadlock. We’ve got a problem in the PledgeBank SMS code which causes deadlocks sometimes, which we’re still debugging.

  9. TheyAskedYou.com

    Author: Tom Longley

    What NEED does this meet?

    “The government asks us questions all the time, but doesn’t make it easy for us to answer.”

    Government consultation is a massive process. Right now, government departments have over 225 “open consultations” on issues like the impact of Crossrail, the independence of national statistics and how to increase skills for lifelong learning.

    To get at them, or even find out about them, you have to visit nearly 30 different government websites. Each with different styles and varying quality in terms of useability. Some consultation documents come in formats such as .doc and .pdf; some have summaries, and plain text versions, but not all. All consultations have a civil servant facilitating the process though. The means of answering also vary, but usually involve submitting your comment by Royal Mail or email to a contact point in the department.

    Yet, not a single site allows an interested party to submit comments online and view the comments of others. Not a single site has a feed or email sign-up to tell you when there are new consultations, or (perhaps more importantly), remind you to check back to see the results.

    What is the APPROACH?

    Features of TheyAskedYou.com could include:

    i) Poolling the “active consultations” data into a feed or email alert service containing a link to the consultation document and the contact point/means of submitting comments. Allow users to sign up – customise alerts by keyword, department or topic.

    ii) Building on “Comment on Power” or the BBC Charter Review site. Start parsing all the .pdfs/.docs into straight text and add the ability to comment at some meaningful level, such as by paragraph, chapter. Even use spanky widgetry allowing users the ability to add comments anywhere on the document.

    iii) The single, most accessible history of modern government consultation and public engagement therein. Erm, not sure what to add.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    i) Reduce sense of powerlessness. Even the smallest obstacles to getting involved in civic life can fuel the cynical view that government is remote, inaccessible and uninterested in our opinions. Enable comment and let people feel connected.

    ii) Create a superb platform for group action. TheyAskedYou.com, like WriteToThem.com could be a great tool and focal point for groups to leverage opinons and help their supporters remain connected to a campaign.

    iii) Give government what it asks for. Statutory obligations aside, departments genuinely seek to learn about the impact and dimensions of their decision-making. By widening the scope for comment, consultations become more democratic, their integrity and potential value increased dramatically.

    iv) A source of revenue for MySociety. More advanced features could be sold as a service to the department running the consultation. These could include provision of the raw data for analysis by geographical location, or simply the collation of all comments into a standalone document of some sort.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    No top predators, as far I can tell – happy to be proved wrong though.

    The Cabinet Office sits on the site http://www.consultations.gov.uk/, which leads to a page of links to other departmental consultation sites.

    Specific interest groups, associations and networking organisations link to consultations and make their members/users aware of the fact of consultations. They also publish their responses. Wouldn’t it be easier for such groups simply to refer their members/users to TheyAskedYou.com rather than track the issue themselves?

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    The challenge seems to be maintaining a single repository of metadata about all consultations, but it seems unlikely to me that somewhere like the Cabinet Office does not do this already. Time to make some calls, Tom!

  10. Virtual Money for Virtual Communities

    Author: Sabine McNeill

    What NEED does this meet?

    Anybody who doesn’t have ‘enough money’ can benefit from ‘complementary money’. It is created by recording the value of a transaction between mutually consenting adults.

    It can also be created as ‘shadow money’, e.g. for every transaction in your Paypal account you can get the same amount in virtual.

    What is the APPROACH?

    The model is www.barter-software.com but it lacks exchanges between systems. The ‘universal exchange currency’ needs to be TIME.

    The challenge is to embed this mechanism into your existing sites.

    It is also possible to generate ‘virtuals’ by clicking: to reward linking with sites on related issues and trading for ‘virtuals’ is a way of creating ‘money’.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Having the FEELING as well as the reality of ALWAYS having the money to pay for what you want.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    LETS (Local Exchange Trade Systems) are the ‘amateur’ versions while ‘barter exchanges’ are the professional b2b versions.

    Embedding the ‘political is financial’ attitude into the ring of MySociety sites will hopefully use all possible techniques to create ‘virtual community currency’ for virtual communities.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    No idea.