Summary

Community Heroes aims to match needs and skills within communities, and helps heroes - the ones providing these services - get the recognition they deserve.

Principles of Community Heroes:

  1. You are not alone. You have a community behind you, so ask for help when you need it.
  2. You are valuable. Everyone has something to contribute. Use this platform to find new opportunities to share your skills (and be a hero).

This app helps community members find the help they need, and gives helpers tangible recognition for their community engagement. Municipalities, NGOs, corporate CSR campaigns and other entities can get involved through providing recognition and rewards for activities they want to encourage. We are linking these activities to broader Sustainable Development Goals with the help of gamification.

The primary problem we are trying to solve is: How can people within communities support each other, and jointly work towards a brighter future?

The Problem in more detail

Especially vulnerable community members are heavily affected by the current crisis. A further rise of unemployment will leave many additional community members in a vulnerable position. At the same time, governments, cities and municipalities, non-profits and other entities need to generate rapid responses, create tangible result, and build trust within communities.

Community members need or want help, but don't know where to ask: Maybe a medical condition forces you to stay inside during the crisis and you need someone to help pick up groceries. Or perhaps you need help with using a computer. Or you even just want to learn a new language. Where do you ask?

Those willing to help do not easily find opportunities: Especially in times of social distancing, it is hard to see vulnerable people who could need your help, and to recognize how valuable your skills can be.

Individuals need to see the bigger picture of their actions to stay committed: Helping on a small scale often conceals the larger impact of your actions. This holds true especially for things like social distancing or climate action, for which the impact of our actions is very intangible and delayed. Visibility on progress and impact helps people stay committed.

Individuals like to feel valued for their contributions: Visualization and recognition of activities can go a long way in building a strong community. It is equally important to empower recipients of community services by giving them a tangible way to show their appreciation, even if they don't have the financial means to do so.

In times of crisis “Sponsors” need trustworthy means to reach and engage citizens: Their aim would be to generate rapid responses to reach the most vulnerable people, when the usual administrative tools are not enough.

Governments, cities and municipalities, NPOs, corporate CSR campaigns all want to find ways to effectively engage communities: Encouraging communities to act, especially inspiring community engagement around specific activities, is a key topic for all of those entities. At the same time, they need tangible results, and effective representation and communication of impact.

Our inspiration

In times of crisis, communities can do amazing things when they come together. We are seeing examples of this every day, in the face of Covid-19.

One source of inspiration was recognizing that in times of scarcity, when funds are hardly available, complementary systems can affect real and lasting change. Time Banking is a great example of this phenomenon, because it puts the focus on those activities that we often do not value with normal "money" - and yet, these are the kinds of activities we often value most in times of crisis.

Another inspiration is noting what motivates our own actions: That is, we realized that seeing people around us do meaningful work encourages us to do the same. Elements of gamification and incentivization can help us to dedicate more time to things that matter. And digital solutions can help us feel connected to disparate members of our community, especially in times when we can’t be physically present.

The Solution

We are building an application that facilitates the connection and matching between community members that need help and those that can offer help.

A community can be chosen as a profile setting, but the solution allows for interoperability and exchange between communities.

To improve accessibility especially for vulnerable community members, we will include voice-to-speech recognition, the possibility to add requests and communicate via SMS, and a "buddy" system that facilitates access especially for elderly, youth and community members without device access. Matching of needs and help will be improved over time through Machine Learning, and takes into account various input factors based on voice and text recognition.

Once the match is found and a community member helps complete a task, the user can reward the helper by giving them "Hero Hours". Hero Hours are not mediated by any sort of central bank; instead, the system is modeled on the concept of mutual credit, to encourage a mentality of paying it forward.

All value exchanges between community members will be securely recorded through the application. For this part, we aim to integrate an existing Blockchain solution (the open-source Trustlines Protocol) for the accounting logic and decentralized peer-to-peer value exchange.

How it works: Users automatically receive a credit line when they join the community, which they can use to give out Hero Hours when receiving help. But they can additionally choose to give a credit line to the community, and use this to start receiving Hero Hours when they offer their help.

Our gamification strategy is furter helping to motivate users and incentivize behaviour that is beneficial for the community as a whole. Members can receive badges based on accumulating hours of support related to a specific activity (for example learning, education). Badges can also be specificly created around a campaign or certain event.

Our "sponsors" can build campaigns around certain activities they want to encourage, provide rewards and recognition for active community engagement, and use anonymized data insights for storytelling and reports.

The Users

Our users are everyday community members. Their needs vary from personal growth activities and extracurriculars like learning yoga or practicing new languages, to help running important errands like grocery shopping, pickup of medication, household repairs, etc.

During the Covid-19 crisis, especially vulnerable community members have an increased need for support. Our hope would be that increased community engagement during the crisis could result in lasting forms of community support and engagement that are centered around sustainability.

We want to make sure that the solution is inclusive, has high usability, a transparent and user-friendly privacy policy and will be free to use for community members.

Our impact

Our solution aims to mobilize community solidarity and collaboration, build support and provide direct insight into the needs of the community, and fulfill those needs through direct exchange of community members and additional support and targeted actions of sponsors. Through gamification and non-monetary exchange of community members, we aim to maintain and even increase the motivation of our helpers, and thereby create a supportive community culture. This is further strengthened through mechanisms for recognition and reward.

When it comes to long term impact, we hope to obtaining analytics related to SDG Action to improve long term acts within social impact projects, and further encourage proximity and transparency between governmental administrations and citizens.

Some of the impacts we will track within the communities using our platform:

  • Impact on the interactions between neighbours
  • Impact on the unemployment rate
  • Impact on mental illness cases
  • ...

A detailed impact strategy will be drafted before the first pilot.

What we have done

We started based on work we did during the Global Hack and Hack the Crisis France, where we made first steps on our prototype, did some initial validation, and built a landing page.

During the EuVsVirus hackathon, We have further detailed out the concept and our solution, precisely with regards to accessibility, privacy and security, and we integrated our learnings and insights on these topics and updated our prototype accordingly. We also made substantial steps on refining our solution, especially when it comes to the integration of Machine Learning, and the way the peer-to-peer accounting solution will be linked to the logic of the app.

We allocated quite some time in discussing the roles of sponsors and how the app can empower communities as a whole. For validation of our assumptions, we created a questionaire to gain a better understanding of the motives, obstacles and drivers of helping out in communities, and gained further insights on our sponsorship models through discussions with participants and mentors.

We then updated our video and presentation with all insights and learnings.

What we learned

We received valuable feedback from voluntary respondents, through our questionaire and initial test users and had some great conversations to help refine the idea. While looking into the process and motivations of people involved in different roles, we gained additional understanding.

Next steps

Some of the next steps we have foreseen:

Validation and refinement:

  • Further distribution and analysis of results from our questionnaire
  • Additional user interviews
  • Additional sponsor feedback

Design & building

  • Update of user stories based on validation insights
  • Refinement of overall architecture
  • MVP definition & start of development
  • Use existing Trustlines Protocol for accounting logic and hour P2P transfer
  • Focus on matching requests with offers within a community through Machine Learning

Partnerships & Communities

  • Identify possible partners and communities that would be willing to trial the solution, or want to help us with further development
  • See how we can link up with other similar or adjacent projects

Pilot

  • Build strategic partnerships with solidarity networks, cities and community organizers
  • Pilot application in a local community, city or event
  • Evaluate impact & lessons learned

Go to market

  • Full app development incl. pilot insights
  • Implementation in a larger community
  • “White Label” app incl. local community-based branding while keeping inter-community interoperability

How you can get involved

Every form of involvement is highly welcome, whether you just want to give quick feedback, guide or advise our progress, become a partner, or become a part of the team. Just send us a message, and we will include you in the conversation!

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