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App of kindness: tech that helps make the world a better place

By Aurora Velez
App of kindness: tech that helps make the world a better place

A mobile application that connects the elderly and the isolated with people who can help has come into its own during Poland's recent lockdown.

Designed before the coronavirus pandemic, officials behind the initiative say the app has proved itself to be indispensable for getting aid out to pensioners who are unable to leave their homes.

The tool, which is being piloted in the country's West Pomerania Province, is part of a project called The Good Support Programme. Last year, it won the European Commission's RegioStars award.

Izabela Rutkowska, from the Science for the Environment Foundation, helps to coordinate the project. She believes harnessing modern technology in this way is crucial nowadays for creating and sustaining social contact.

“Every one of us can end up in a situation where we need help. Especially now, when we're forced to stay at home, or cannot leave our homes,” Rutkowska says.

"The mobile app is very intuitive, for everyone. We can choose if we want to help someone. For example, I maybe on my way home from work, I'm doing shopping for groceries and I also do them for someone else. I can report my availability to the support administrator and type in the distance I can travel by car - let’s say 50 kilometres. Or if I need support, I can pick an option to show I need help with an everyday task. For example, I can specify that I need assistance to take the dog for a walk, perhaps because I've broken my leg or I'm in quarantine."

She adds: "The mobile app is still being tested. It's already been translated into English, as well as Spanish. We have a partner in Spain. Eventually, we'd like it translated into all the EU languages, and we're still in the process of trying to find partners to cooperate with us on this."