Inspiration & Added value

Conversations and trusting discussion rooms in which we feel perceived help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. The aim is not to set up a helpline or a psychotherapeutic hotline, but to inspire meaningful conversations and genuine, interested exchange among each other. In times of "Social Distancing" it is also necessary to create new meeting places for outgoing people, in which an exchange with new interlocutors is possible and new friendships can develop.

When did you last have a really good conversation? The DosenTelefon makes this possible.

How does the DosenTelefon work?

Interested parties registered on a free online platform are assigned to each other via chatroulette/random generator and have a conversation with each other. For this purpose, conversation starters/guidelines in the form of theme cards or mood decks (question catalogues sorted according to mood) are available. These support and structure the conversation. The suggested questions are based on previous psychological research results and models of conversation (e.g. by Dr. Arthur Aron, Carousel conversation). Thus, the suggested questions enable a discussion structure that inspires an intensive, meaningful exchange, even though one is (still) a stranger to each other. At the end of the conversation, there is the possibility to make an appointment for a further conversation if so desired.

The application collects as little personal data as possible, so that only an e-mail address (for registration) and a user name are required.

A Code of Conduct regulates the cooperation and the basis of the joint discussions.

DosenTelefon is not a psychotherapeutic hotline or telephone counselling service.

Innovation

DosenTelefon continues in the tradition of familiar formats such as pen friendships/sponsorships, virtual topic forums and topic hotlines and takes the conversation among strangers as a model. The random generator plays with the idea of a telephone exchange from earlier times, the online platform enables the connection of content (question catalogue and suggestions) with the technology of telephony (classic conversation).

The biggest difference to classical social networks, however, is that there is no matching procedure according to interest-based algorithms (such as leisure activities, educational level or similar), but rather foreign interlocutors discover commonalities and empathy through the conversation structure and the questions. This enables social interaction outside the respective interest bubble and the integration and exchange of all age and interest groups. In this way, social cohesion can be strengthened in the long term.

Our prototype

You can find the first screenshots of our UI here: UI](https://challengepost-s3-challengepost.netdna-ssl.com/photos/production/software_photos/000/971/964/datas/gallery.jpg)

Technical details and use of Open Source solutions

Structure

  • Webapp, authorization only via eMail (with magic link which represents the login)
  • Backend for user, deck, topic and session store (lambda & dynamoDB)
  • User selects topics that go or do not go
  • Next step is the "Lobby" (web socket connection is established)
  • Lobby matched new users with already waiting users to find matches
  • On match the audio call is started via openrainbow and decks / questions are displayed to both users

Technological components

  • Ionic as webapp (with the prospect to develop native apps later)
  • Web services / web sockets to AWS Lambda backed by DynamoDB & Simple Email Services & S3 (per serverless deployment)
  • OpenRainbow for telephony

Scalability

  • Backend components (Lambda, DynamoDB, S3, API Gateway) scale automatically, if necessary configurations / thresholds have to be improved, but no code / architecture changes are necessary
  • The static frontend code is in a S3 bucket, sufficient for use in Germany, if more regions are added a CDN might make sense.
  • OpenRainbow is responsible for the scaling of the audio calls

Code / Deployment

  • Open source (see github links), javascript / python / typescript.
  • Delivery via serverless stages dev/prod (could be automated later via github CI/CD)

Communication and dissemination

The aim is to make DosenTelefon known as a new possibility for inspiring conversations with a random partner. The solution focuses on people who quickly feel isolated and lonely and people who are open-minded and sociable, i.e. people who like to meet new people and like to get into conversation.

Future users can be single people, sociable people who like to meet new people, people who are not part of a direct contact group (family, shared flat, other communal living) and elderly people who live alone or are isolated from others (e.g. residents of nursing and old people's homes, people living alone). Participation is recommended from about 14 years of age due to the discussion guidelines. Due to this orientation, DosenTelefon is aimed at the majority of people living in Germany and in the long term multilingualism is also conceivable.

Branding

DosenTelefon picks up a principle from childhood. We kept in touch with our friends via a homemade telephone line made from two old tin cans, even when we had to be home again or were not allowed to go out.

Now, DosenTelefon goes one step further and connects people from all over society for a conversation. In order to create a friendly and interested basis for a conversation among strangers, DosenTelefon offers conversation impulses with questions sorted by mood.

The logo of DosenTelefon graphically picks up on the tin can telephone of our childhood. A self-drawn comic style was deliberately chosen to convey this atmosphere and to support the playful lightness of starting a conversation.

Recommended marketing measures & budget

Known interlocutors

People in public life take part in the DosenTelefon: e.g. the Federal Chancellor, national football players*, musicians*, etc.

Google AdWords/SEO campaign

The slogan for DosenTelefon is developed from the highest ranked search terms regarding loneliness/conversation/antidote isolation, e.g. "Good conversations lead against loneliness" - link to registration platform

Partnerships with telephone providers/ customer mailings

On telephone bills, in customer newsletters DosenTelefon is advertised. Cooperation with telephone providers is recommended.

Radio spots/TV advertising

(Advertising in public spaces, possibly due to curfews, too little reach)

Mailing for old people's homes / information distribution via umbrella organisations

DosenTelefon_ is a free and non-profit application. Therefore, no income is generated that can refinance the implementation of marketing measures. Marketing measures can be refinanced through partnerships with telecommunications companies, advertising agencies (ProBono campaigns) or through public funding.

Challenges that still need to be solved

  • Enable barrier-free participation (integration of analogue telephony in developed platform), overcoming the on-/offline barrier of registration. Idea especially for old people's homes: a sponsored canned phone (smartphone with application), which can be borrowed to use the application.

  • intergenerational testing of the developed questions by peer group review

  • Expansion of data protection and data security of the collected data

  • permanent financing of the prototype

What's next?

Our prototype can be extended, by

  • saving loved call partners (favorites)
  • Integrating a report button to report prank calls or violations of the Code of Conduct
  • Integrating video chat
  • Multilingualism of the app, application also for refugees in Germany

[ Continues ] We're proud that--

  • ...we have found a super cool name that a lot of people can associate with.
  • ...we've managed to get an MVP up and running in such a short time.
  • ...we have our own logo.
  • ...we had a lot of fun as a team
  • ...we've built a great UI!
  • ...we learned a lot of new things!
  • ...we were able to make a secure registration with as little data as possible in a short time
  • ...we were able to solve some security issues (no prank calls, no stalking, conversation culture) with help of the code of conduct, as well as choosing to not display phone numbers. The report button will extend this in the future.

We have learned that...

  • ... a lot of energy can be fostered when you come together as a community.
  • ... really great things can be created.
  • ... all of this can still happen despite the stressful circumstances.
  • ... AWS is extremely helpful in getting applications up and running quickly. RTFM. (Read the Fucking Manual :D)
  • ... there is always something positive in every situation, no matter how bad.
  • ... you have it in your own hands to make the best out of critical situations.
  • ... new and old technologies combined as an idea could create something really exciting new
  • ... conversations can develop very complex dimensions and may experience a "real revival" due to the current crisis.

Our coordination process

Group telephone call 17:30 22/03/2020

  • Final video fine-tuning and coordination of the upload/video submission
  • Tuning for the fine tuning of the devposts
  • Arrangements for the Follow Up starting next week

Group telephone call 15:30 22/03/2020

  • Voting Video, Voice Over Optimization

Group telephone call 1 pm 22/03/2020

  • Update technical page
  • timeline video

Group telephone call 9 a.m. 22/03/2020

  • Technical questions
  • Design video, clarification personas
  • App/platform structure
  • Finalization of communication concept
  • legal data protection issues, update from mentor feedback

Group telephone call 19:30 21/03/2020

  • Update current topics
  • Mentor needed on the subject of data protection

Group telephone call 1 pm 21/03/2020

  • Update from the first working session
  • Voting Frontend
  • First overview of possible decks
  • Interaction between backend and frontend
  • Analysis and coordination Content and derivation of questions

Group call 10 am 21/03/2020

  • Expansion of the tender
  • Name finding
  • Analysis and coordination Content and derivation of questions
  • Marketing and communication
  • Division of working groups (tech solutions, discussion guide, stakeholders/possible partners)
  • Demo Registration Portal/ Demo Video Call

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