data, data, where are you?
The social impact of violence on communities are difficult to notice amid the monthly blaring headlines indicating that we have again managed to successfully surpass the already high murder rate. Still, it is becoming harder to ignore how violence affects the social fabric of our communities, and the country at large. One of the most interesting findings of the research that we conducted in Trinidad & Tobago, is that people have been reducing their participation in social events (both private and public), in order to minimize their risk of being a victim of violence. Not only does this self-selected social isolation negatively affect one’s perception of the ‘other’, but it also contributes to long-term negative consequences on the economic health of the country – especially, when individuals choose to socialize abroad, instead of at home due to their concerns about safety.
Neighbour, Neighbour aims to address some of the social effects of violence from two dimensions, which we can call push and pull. The push dimension is concerned with addressing the heightened perception of fear within the uncertain security environment, while the pull dimension attempts to promote and incentivise social participation. Given that our research indicated that one’s sense of insecurity and vulnerability was heightened during periods of travel, the push dimension focuses on providing a mobile application feature that allows users to be monitored by family and friends while they are in-transit. The pull dimension, attempts to provide a more attractive reason for engaging on the platform by providing features that help improve social participation. These features include: access to upcoming events that allow people to engage in activities, and opportunities to earn an income by supporting the travel needs of family and friends.
One of the challenges in creating the ‘pull effect’ – particularly with respect to providing access to upcoming events – is finding and compiling event data from various sources in a way that provides a real benefit to users. For example, many events are promoted through radio, newspapers, word-of-mouth, and online (e.g., FaceBook). The limited sources of electronic event information makes it difficult to find parseable event data that can be easily delivered to users through Neighbour, Neighbour. Furthermore, the few parseable events that are currently posted on accessible online sites often do not include major, attractive activities that would be attractive to target users of Neighbour, Neighbour. So as we continue to work on the prototype, we must ask: data, data, where are you?