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Help communities under lockdown to help each other



"When crisis hits, solidarity blooms."  Rutger Bregman

Across the world technology has been an absolute lifeline as ‘pop-up’ communities of friends, relatives and neighbours under lockdown self-organise to share information, arrange resources, send out distress calls, or simply feel connected. People may use social media to communicate and coordinate, but existing platforms probably lack all that they could find helpful and may be difficult for older users who are the most vulnerable.

This quest is to research and develop a social media platform specifically designed for ‘pop-up communities’ under stress. It is to research and build a tool not just for people affected by Covid-19, but in the context of any kind of natural disaster or conflict where communities reach out and support each other. It may provide text and video chat, alerts, news boards, maps of the area that can be tagged. It would be simple and easy to use so that older people would find it accessible. It might have different roles and levels of access. It might enable community members to make support services available to each other, such as collecting prescriptions or food. It will probably have a web interface and an app. Whatever it is, it will provide exactly what people need.


Self-Organise Remotely In Crisis

All across the world people have been plunged into lock-down amidst the threat of a potentially deadly virus. Almost without warning people have been cut off from the world they know and the services and communities on which they depend. Older people and the sick are particularly at risk and need shielding by those around them.

At times like this, small self-organising local communities of neighbours form-up to provide help and information to each other. People who live close-by, perhaps ‘familiar strangers’ begin to reach out so that the strong can protect the less able. This in happening in response to the corona virus but also happens during hurricanes, flood, drought and war. And there needn’t be a major crisis. Groups may form simply to help each other out.    

Simon Attfield

I am Associate Professor of Human Centred Technology at Middlesex University and an evangelist for useful, usable, engaging software. I'm an academic with over 20 years experience researching and teaching Human Computer Interaction, User Experience and Visualisation. I have conducted multiple applied and theoretical research projects for clients including UKRI, LexisNexis and UKGov. I have over 90 peer reviewed academic publications and a passionate advocate of user centred design.

Middlesex University

The Interaction Design Centre at Middlesex University is home to a team of Human-Computer Interaction specialists. Staff and students in the Centre are engaged in research projects with a range of UK and international partners as well as teaching the next generation of user experience and interaction design professionals at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Our committed ethos is to drive technology innovation from a rich understanding of users and their activity contexts.

Sought After Skills

·       User research ( getting and analyzing stories from users)

·       Interaction Design

·       Web development

·       Database development


The satisfaction of helping communities in need and something for the portfolio.

Additional Information

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Simon Attfield

Middlesex University, London

I am Associate Professor of Human Centred Technology at Middlesex University and an evangelist for useful, usable, engaging software.

Quest Details
Quest HQ:
Quest Period:
Apr 8, 2020
May 31, 2020
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