I recently joined the RSA Connected Communities team working on the Social Mirror app. Social Mirror is a smartphone/tablet app that allows users to measure, visualise, and change their social connections, with the potential to strengthen communities while improving a person’s own health and well-being.
As a graduate student studying Digital Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, I’m excited to put what I’ve been studying at the intersection of sociology and digital innovation into practice.
Social Mirror is a project that RSA Connected Communities is working on in collaboration with Nathan Matias at MIT Center for Civic Media. I’m really excited to be working with this team, and think that Social Mirror is a great tool to elaborate on the work that Connected Communities is doing. Connected Communities understands the importance of a person’s social network and the impact this has on their personal life. Understanding this connection is one step. Social Mirror is the next.
With Social Mirror, people will be able to map out their own real-life social networks (so don’t think Facebook) and understand how their social connections affect their lives. Simply by visualising one’s social network, people begin to make choices to improve their social networks. Sometimes it’s hard to see the connection between the friends you have and your ability (or not) to find a job. Social Mirror will allow people to map their real-life social networks to help them recognise the connection between their communities and their individual health and well-being. When people visualise and interact with their social networks, they are more likely to understand how this affects their personal lives and start to make choices that will improve their social network. As Nathan puts it, it is essentially a tool for conducting a social checkup.
Helping the elderly and isolated
An area that we want to focus on while developing Social Mirror is how the app can be used to help the elderly and isolated within a community. Over the summer we will be working in the New Cross Gate area and beyond to develop this app in a way that will specifically benefit the elderly. One way to do this might be to work with health practitioners to develop a diagnostic tool. Health practitioners would be able to use Social Mirror to understand the patient’s social network and the implications for the patient’s health. The app will also be able to prompt suggestions for improving the patient’s social network to improve overall health and wellbeing.
One interesting example of apps that help the elderly is Care Innovations Connect. This is an app developed by Intell and GE. It is intended to help seniors living on their own to facilitate communication between them and their caregiver. It also has a social networking aspect, provides games to maintain mental fitness, news and information about the local community, and sends alerts when medication needs to be taken. Do you know of any other apps that have been developed to help the elderly?