Let’s ‘Help around’ and save our society with a cool app

BuildingI think, we  technology leaders can play a big role in saving our society and, eventually, the planet. To do that, we need to start from our home and neighborhood.

First, let’s scope this a bit. My mother is old; and with every passing year, she needs more and more help with simple things: shopping, travel, basic technical reparations in the house, etc. She lives in a building with about 500 households, among which she knows exactly three by name. We kids help her when we can, but again, we have our jobs and do not live around the corner.

Wouldn’t it be great if all 500 households have access to a ‘Help around’ mobile app like the one below?

Help around - Mobile App

This app would open up a huge network of potential helpers for my mother, literally within walking distance! It could also bring back a bit of the ‘social cohesion,’ which we have lost in most of the cities. This app, currently named ‘the connected flat’ is just an idea and still needs a bit more thought. However, I do see potential value and even a business case in this concept. Local governments may be willing to pay for it, because it will save them money in the end.

Smart usage of modern technology is the key to solving contemporary problems… whether it is in healthcare, welfare, transport, education, sustainability, safety or politics. And if technology is the key, we technology leaders obviously are the people to open doors and lead the way. Working in technology has never been more relevant and it will be even more relevant tomorrow.

It’s a huge responsibility for technology leaders, but somehow start-ups seem to be more focused on creative solutions for real problems than the big IT companies. That doesn’t seem right to me. Let’s not leave this responsibility to start-ups, let’s combine our strengths and start developing  solutions. Let’s save our society and our planet.

André Helderman


André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behavior.

More on André Helderman.

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  1. Joakim Lindbom March 17, 2015 Reply

    Great idea, but it would require some security thinking – inviting someone to change your light bulb might be inviting a burglar into your flat. And if you opened the door and let them in, I’m unsure if the insurance company would be of any help. So – the challenge would be to build #reputation into the system, but without requiring a large volume (like with Über). But perhaps a dose of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation would help, if you know someone who knos the potential helping person, you’d be safer. And being clear it’s a transparent and open system; anybody would see who was invited to the repair and thus the potential burglar cannot hide in obscurity.

    • Andre Helderman March 17, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Joakim. I fully agree that security is an attention point (as always).

      The basic thought behind this concept is that people learn to know the people who live on walking distance. That used to be normal in our villages but we lost that in our modern cities. So indeed, it is meant to be used by low volume communities, just people who live “around the corner”. That also gives the opportunity to socialize both in the digital as in the physical domain.

      I also agree that reputation is key and must be part of this solution. Ratings and “helper of the month-rankings” etc.

      In the end I am convinced that when people know their neighbors, it will not only increase their independency but also their (feeling of) safety.