Toolster

FROM: neil yashinsky

What NEED does this meet?
The need am I serving is enabling every day home and community maintenance. It is always easier with the right tools, think of a community snow blower used by people in the neighborhood vs one person using his snow blower and all his neighbors using their shovels.

Sharing tool enables personal and community productivity and development. It is built off a common practice used by people everyday aronud the world. A recent example is I bought an expensive ergonomically designed shovel that moves snow well while not causing you to hurt your back. I lend it to my neighbors, because as long as they don't misuse it they cannot use it up.

Another example is sharing a broadcast spreader used to spread grass seeds or fertilizer. This can't be used up, and actually everyone's property values will grow up because all the lawns in the area are likely to improve if it becomes easier to maintain a nice lawn.

If my neighbor shared his paint sprayer back to me I could paint my house more easily and might not let the appearance get so run down before paying someone to paint it. The money I save from not needing a painter I might use to fix up my porch.

What is the APPROACH?
It lends itself from napster of course, which showed how sharing can become very popular with music, because it can not be used up. My approach extends that plan to tools that cannot be used up either.

They do wear down and need replacing eventually which is why I might suggest a very minimal usage fee to be collected for purchasing more collective tools to be shared. This might be optional because in most situations people won't mind sharing, in fact they probably would already be sharing if there was something to enable sharing.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
By sharing tools that will make work easier, everyone becomes more productive. That will naturally benefit everyone involved. Common interests and areas such as property values, side walksand interests are improved. It might be the opposite of the tragedy of the commons which said that it should be expected that an unregulated resource will be used in an unsustainable manner. Instead toolster works to share private resources in a more efficient and thus sustainable manner.

What is the COMPETITION?
None that I know of.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
You will need to develop some software, but the functionality is very basic. I would imagine this be either centrally hosted like a yahoo discussion group or run locally by each tool community or group of tool communities.

The hardware required to centrally host would not be too expensive and might even be considered a shared tool for which user pay a minimal fee to maintain or not. The processing power needed to run such a simple application could easily be handled by a pc ala napster

November 15, 2003 in Connecting People, Helping Your Community, Matching System, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Favour Trading

FROM: Chris Preager

What NEED does this meet?
People that could offer something in return, needing something done that they cannot do. For example I am a computer developer with a broken washing machine. Next door there might be a plumber with a broken computer. Almost everyone has skills that are useful.

And it needn't be such a selfish trade. I would be over the moon to pop down the road and fix a child's computer, knowing that that might inspire a plumber to pop down the road and fix an old lady's dripping tap.

What is the APPROACH?
Probably best added to your great UpMyStreet site under postcode, if there are sufficient numbers of people registered. You have a profile under which you post skills if you have them and needs if you have them.

When needs are matched to local skills (eg, within a mile someone can meet a need for a 30 minute or less job), a website message or email is sent to the person with skills and they decide whether or not to respond.

Maybe a ratings system would be good to show people that other people are doing favours.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Silly little jobs that turn in to a big hassle, like fixing a computer or mending a leaky pipe. If carefully designed, it needn't be just practical ideas either - I am writing a funding proposal for a Bolivian NGO and want someone to sanity-check it, I am returning faulty goods to a company that has dissappeared and trading standards aren't helping. Favours should be explicitly limited to 30 minutes or less, but surely almost everyone would be happy to give that little amount of time and save your neighbour such hassles?

What is the COMPETITION?
I have not been able to find anything remotely similar - your UpMyStreet inspired it.


What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
I couldn't really guess the costs but technically it is all fairly simple to program once you have your postcode geographical bit working well, which you seem to. I suppose it is about 7 web pages to code and 6 DB tables to track skills, requests, matches and responses, and to display results or comments from grateful favour receivers.

Just the design would have to be careful, steering people in the right direction not to abuse people that can't say no or feel pressurised.

(That is why I think requests shouldn't be targetted and matches between need and skill are revealed by the person who has the skill if they want.)

November 3, 2003 in Giving stuff away, Helping Your Community, Matching System | Permalink | Comments (1)

How can help?

FROM: Geoffry D. White

What NEED does this meet?
People get frustrated hearing about social ills and not being offered a way to help.

What is the APPROACH?
Develop a master data bank of volunteer opportunities.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Ralph Nader was once asked, What is society's greatest problem?" His answer: lack of civic involvement. Everone's life will be healthier, easier, happier and more meaningful to the extent that social capital is increased. See Punam's book, Bowling Alone.

What is the COMPETITION?
Not that I know of.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
One full time staff person can develop it and then it can be maintained by one half timer.

November 2, 2003 in Helping Your Community, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Tipping Point or The Hundredth Monkey .com

FROM: Jim O'Connor

What NEED does this meet?
Many people would like to help their world or community in some way, such as by using public transport instead of driving, or contributing to a charity, or helping in a local scheme, or voting for a certain political party, or protesting against something, BUT, they know that doing so on their own without massive numbers of other people also following the same course of action would be a waste of time and/or effort and/or money.

In this way, even though large numbers of people would like to do something, enough to make a difference, they never do it due to the absence of some mechanism by which they can co-ordinate their activities.


What is the APPROACH?
This site would help by allowing people to pledge to carry out one of the actions above (or something else) IF a certain number of other people do the same. They will enter the pledge, or pick an existing one and specify the threshold number of other people that they would require to also make the same pledge before they would be prepared to actually carry it out.

The system would hold all the pledges, email addresses and thresholds in a standard database and when the threshold was reached for a particular pledge/group of people, it would email all the people to let them know so that they can begin carrying out the action.

The system would need a database, a bit of math and an intelligent way of categorising pledges so that people can find the one they are looking for. Some pledges would be global, some local.

The site could also contain sections with expert analyses outlining how many people would be required to carry out some course of action to make it beneficial. This would allow people to make an intelligent choice of threshold for any particular pledge.


To answer the question, I think the approach is distinctive not only because it could co-ordinate any conceivable beneficial activity but because it will allow everyone to set their own personal threshold level. You could, for example, say I will begin to "recycle household waste in the London area" but only if 2 million other Londoners also do it. You don't then have to begin recycling until 2 million other people also agree to do it - and of course if that many people did agree to do it then the government would be forced to make recycling in London much easier than it is now. So by setting the threhold figure you are basically stipulating a level of inconvenience that you are willing to experience.


What are the BENEFITS to people?
More participation in beneficial activities as people know they are not doing it alone and therefore wasting their time and/or money.

I remember once reading something by Noam Chomsky in which he said that if one person were to make the decision to use public transport instead of driving to work they would put themselves at great inconvenience and therefore lose out, but if everyone were to do it together then the extra investment would allow such an improvement in services that we would all get to work in half the time and in greater comfort. BUT, it needs everyone to do it together for the benefit to arise. This is the type of thing that the site will facilitate. Co-ordinated action. He said it had something to do with Game Theory.

What is the COMPETITION?
I don't know.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The system would need a database, a bit of math and an intelligent way of categorising pledges so that people can find the one they are looking for.

System would be pretty cheap I think. Some bright student could probably knock up a prototype in a couple of days.

Would need an administrator.

November 2, 2003 in Connecting People, Helping Your Community, Matching System, NGO Tools, Pledge Banks, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (3)

Community Texting

FROM: Chris Ewels

What NEED does this meet?
Many people are community minded but often just need reminders. This is a way to bring many of the other ideas under one roof, providing a generic way that charity and public service groups can let people know of relevant time based local information.

What is the APPROACH?
It's not very different but brings several things under one roof. The web interface would be simple (could even sign up via a mobile phone). Enter your postcode, optionally postcode of place of work, and your mobile number. You're then presented with a page of things you could opt into, which can be expanded in future. This could include: receiving texts from local council the night before recycling collected from your house, receiving a text from the blood donation service the day before they are collecting near to your home / work, possibly receiving text about local produce markets / door to door delivery when it's running, etc. Could optionally add the choice to receive the information via text message, email, both. Could reduce paperwork and thus costs for blood donation service as they wouldn't have to send out letters to those who'd signed into this.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Immediate relevant and timely information that's important for people at an extremely local level would be delivered directly to them. A system would be established which it would be easy for other organisations to 'opt into', so if other charitable/public spirited projects along these lines wanted to establish geographic based texting, the system would be already in place and it'd just be another click box. Users would remain in control since they'd only be texted about things they opted into.

What is the COMPETITION?
There's a few I suspect, the advantage of this is time saving in bringing it under one roof.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Should be pretty cheap, and I'm sure you could get some investment from the various public bodies that would benefit from this. Would need to interface with postcode recognition.

November 2, 2003 in Helping Your Community, Perhaps Government Remit?, SMS | Permalink | Comments (3)

Misunderstanding Elimination Plan

FROM: Omar Farooq Omar

What NEED does this meet?
To eliminate various misunderstandings and stereotype that exist in today's different societies. Growing anti-semitism and Islamophobia based on false notions and misrepresentations are a few examples. Could help us all understand each other much better.

What is the APPROACH?
It will not be to defend certain religions, cultures or societies on their behalf, nor to debate who's better than who. But just to discredit certain rumors or misunderstanding that contradict obvious documented facts regarding all sorts of societies, cultures, organizations, etc etc.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Will clear stereotype, hatred and misunderstandings that are rampant amonst all of our societies and bring people together.

What is the COMPETITION?
Not that I know of.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Requires just a website building software and volunteers to research and some web space.

November 2, 2003 in Helping Your Community, Political, Static Information Site | Permalink | Comments (3)

recycling

FROM: Tenzin

What NEED does this meet?
An awful lot of perfectly useable stuff is thrown away by affluent householders (and others such as industry) that could be used by those who have little or no disposable income. Shop and office refurbishment throws away huge amounts of furniture, shelving, light fittings etc that are perfectly re-useable

What is the APPROACH?
It should be possible to set up an internet database that is searchable on a local, basis such as my village/suburb, within 5 miles of etc. which contains a list of good quality but re-useable, or recycleable materials that a disposer is going to throw away. A disposer could (for free) enter details of what they have, with an expiry date, whereby each item appears in the datatbase, and is available until that date, after which the householder will dispose of the item/s in a more normal manner. Those interested in acquiring the item/s could search the database, and with appropriate security measures contact the disposer via e-mail; to arrange a mutually convenient time to view/collect the item. In otherwords a sort of e-Bay, but without bids.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Those on low income could benefit simply by having acces to such items as furniture, household goods etc, that otherwise they could not afford, also it may well be possible for individuals to set up their own small local companies based on re-using material that otherwise would have been thrown away. It could ease some of the burdens on local councils of the cost of disposing of at least some forms of household waste, and possibly even help some industries reduce the costs of waste disposal. It would also benefit the environment, simply by reducing waste.

What is the COMPETITION?
None as far as I know, though there are schemes in Holland and parts of Germany, which are I beleive operated by local councils, whereby unwanted but reasonable quality household gooods, and even surplus building materials, are colleceted up and available to be viewed and purchased at nominal prices (simply to cover the costs).

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
I haven't the faintest idea, as I have absolutely no skills in programming, and equally little idea on the costs of holding such a database on servers etc. though it need not (I would have thought) be overly expensive, as inputting items to the dtabase would be done by the disposer, and deletion of items would be either automatic (at the end of the exiry period) or by the collector of the item after collection. I simply throw the idea out in the hope that someone can pick it up and put it into operation.

November 1, 2003 in Connecting People, Environmental, Giving stuff away, Helping Your Community, Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2)

AdoptAGeek.org - helping geeks serve the local community

FROM: Patrick Lewin

What NEED does this meet?
This idea came about as I am a programmer/web designer and have quite a few friends working in the charity sector.

I noticed that although there are places where charities can get computer equipment 2nd hand (normally for free), there aren\'t any obvious ways to get cheap / free technical help on how to use the things to do stuff!

So the website would link computer experts (many of whom tend to be genorous with giving their time and expertise if only they knew how) with charity and other nonprofit enterprises in their local area.

The website itself would be envisaged as a non-profit \"date matching\" type service and would include such spurious but fun features such as \"Geek of the Week\", focussing in on one person and what they\'ve managed to achieve. It would also have a forums area to allow geeks to share experiences and provide tech.

What is the APPROACH?
I\'m not aware of such a website resource, or at least not one that has been successfully \"marketed\". So, if done right it would be a unique resource.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As stated in the NEED: section above, I have worked with numerous charities and have seen the need for a accessible, computer knowledgable people in the cash-strapped charity sector. Needless to say, schools and community centres could benefit too.

What is the COMPETITION?
As mentioned above, I\'m not aware of a similar service or at least one that has caught on.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It could be handled by one website designer as a full-time project for about three-six months, ideally with input from a graphic designer to help with look\'n\'feel. After that, the ongoing maintenance cost would only be subject to bandwidth charges (i.e. how many people are using the site).

The website could be released in embryonic form much earlier than the release date of course.

November 1, 2003 in Connecting People, Giving stuff away, Helping Your Community, Matching System, NGO Tools | Permalink | Comments (5)

Eyesore

FROM: Michael Scott

What NEED does this meet?
The need to improve the visual enviroment. Everyone knows an eyesore when they see one.

What is the APPROACH?
A website that enables people to post pictures of eyesores. A zoomable UK map provides a view of eyesore density. Areas are singled out as prime offenders. Notifications are sent to responsible parties. Comments, positive and negative ratings, additional photographs can be applied to eyesores by website visitors. Kudos can be accrued to eyesore removers. An eyesore can be anything from a permanently unemptied rubbish bin at your local bus stop to a hideous corporate skyline blocker. The sole restrictions would be that it has to be photographed and publicly visible.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
The website would give a central place to let off steam, and perhaps shame some offenders into removing, or at least rectifying, some of the more conspicuous eyesores. Also, as "eyesore" is a relative term, there would be a light hearted, "it takes all sorts" side to the website which would make browsing fun.

What is the COMPETITION?
No competition as far as I can see. Collaboration would likely come from the media, who would see it as a source of human interest stories, and architectural associatons, who would see it as a platform for promoting informed opinion.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Basically just another photo database website with some specific user interactive features. As a software developer, with 8 years website experience, I would be happy to put it together myself with a small team. Photo and comment vetting would be an issue, though perhaps a wiki-like approach would be sufficient in most cases.

October 31, 2003 in Environmental, Helping Your Community, Increasing Awareness, Use of Statistics | Permalink | Comments (4)

MyStreetParty

FROM: Will Wharfe

What NEED does this meet?
People don't know their neighbours any more. This would provide a way of getting to find out if anyone in your area is interested in organising a street party (doesn't have to be literally in your street). Once you've organised a street party, hopefully you will have got to know people! And, you will have identified yourself as a street party organiser... that way, when someone arrives in the area and wants to find out how to get involved, they can find out who the local street party people are... Street parties are a great non sectarian, non political way of getting people together. Nice focused activity with a tangible result.


What is the APPROACH?
Start small, focused, real ground level. Find people who actually run real street parties at the moment. Work out what the system would need to do to make their job easier. Get them on board. Test the system and refine it. Then roll it out in the areas around the areas where it's been piloted. Leverage connections with multimap, upmystreet, streetmap.co.uk; findaproperty etc So that people can view an area and see the street party areas.


What are the BENEFITS to people?
Makes it easier to make personal connections locally. This creates a form of social infrastructure on which other projects could be built.

What is the COMPETITION?
I don't think there's any competition. But there are lots of location information services (multimap/ upmystreet/ findaproperty) that this could work well with.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Depends how rapidly you want to roll it out and how many places you want to test it in. Probably around £20K - £40K for the software for the pilot. Probably about the same for the management/people feedback etc.

October 30, 2003 in Connecting People, Helping Your Community, Leisure | Permalink | Comments (2)