Today should be an interesting day as we are testing our Drug Advice Support (DAS) on a new server. We are hoping to see if the performance will be improved as we've been experiencing problems with our old server lately. We've also seen an influx of requests to the service over the past few weeks and looking forward to see the expansion plans being executed over the next few weeks.
We have been running this service between 3 and 5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays since its inception due to restricted resources. We currently have 19 advisors registered on the Advice Support Network and are hoping to achieve the following expansion plans:
1. Increase hours by 100% (New Proposed hours of 4pm to 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays)- Implementation Date [14 April 2009]
2. Increase number of Advisors online in session by 50% (We've acquired the equipment needed to implement this) - [May 2009]
3. Advisors Hub Model Completed - [May 2009]
4. Increase days by 50% (Start offering service on a Saturday as well) - [May 2009]
The above are some of the expansion plans on the horizon.
Thanks to all who nominated The Reconstructed for the SA Blog Awards. This is a great testimony having young men and women who's lives were destroyed by substance abuse and gangsterism, and through blogging have began a journey of reconstruction (Some of our bloggers in picture above).
I've just come accross an interesting Web 2.0 tool, Moontoast that allows you the opportunity to share your knowledge with those who are looking to learn more about an area that you have expertise in. This gives those real and "self-proclaimed" gurus the opportunity to empower others with knowledge possibly breaking the knowledge divide.
My question though is how can we use this tool to empower citizens in a Community in Tension (CiT)? I have some ideas that I know could be useful so watch this space to see how we will be exploring this technology in the reconstruction of citizens.
We were encouraged to hear that an initiative sponsored by the United Nations have chosen The Reconstructed programme as one of their African cases for Creative Communities for Sustainable Living project. This is a good indication that the work we are doing are being recognised globally.
More about the project below:
CREATIVE COMMUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES Research activity supported by the Swedish Tasks Force within the UNEP - UN DESA ten-year framework of programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
"Creative Communities for Sustainable Lifestyles" (CCSL) starts from the achievements of the EMUDE(Emerging User Demand on Sustainable Solutions) European research project to enlarge and adapt the notions of creative communities and promising initiatives for new models of sustainable lifestyles at a world-wide scale. Goals are: -to explore and adapt the creative community concept to non-European contexts with a special focus on the emerging urban societies of the South and the far East. -to organise a series of workshops with local NGO in emerging countries in South and East parts of the world to present EMUDE vision and results on creative communities and promising initiatives; -to involve local NGO to revisit local initiatives and experiences through the EMUDE approach and set with them perspective to promote and implement new sustainable lifestyles; -to initiate a network that links the current European EMUDE network with other "antennas" in other regions (in particular local NGO and international organisations); -to collect new examples of promising initiatives from the local NGO experiences.
Well after many requests of how we've managed to get community involvement in our project I decided to list some guidelines that we followed building a relationship with the Bridgetown Community in the Athlone Living Lab (ALL). These are some of the steps we followed to ensure beneficial community engagement:
IDENTIFICATION PHASE: - Identify Context and Purpose for engagement - Identify Community Space for engagement - Identify strong community stakeholders who are well respected and active in the community NB: Engagement activities should not be burden to community
PLANNING PHASE: - Planning with Key Stakeholders * Plan engagement activities with Community Members you already know * Plan engagement activities with Community Members you don’t know - Prioritize engagement activities - Identify roles of stakeholders in Community Engagement - Create your engagement Implementation Plan
IMPLEMENTATION PHASE: - Involve key community stakeholders from the offset - Build Relationships * DO NOT make promises - Establish Community Champions - Communication mechanisms to enhance engagement - Align with Community (Stakeholders') Vision and Mission
ENGAGEMENT PHASE: - Divide engagement activities in subsections - Engagement with community becomes part of community activities - Monitor Progress of engagement - Maintain relationships with community and its members - Transfer of responsibilities to Community champions
SUSTAINING PHASE: - Establish Community Co-champions who are identified and mentored by Champions - Continuous monitoring of progress - Strengthen relationships with community and its members - Engagement activities objectives/goals measured and assessed - Future engagement objectives identified
Using the above steps (iterative steps) proved to be helpful in establishing the community engagement and the Athlone Living Lab (ALL). We trust that this could also be useful to you when establishing relationships in communities in tension for ICT development.
Today we stepped into a new era of Drug Advice Support (DAS). With new changes to the system to improve usability and to ensure that we reach as many who requires our help it was an exciting day. Today DAS served 1500 messages and we had 130 conversations in our 2 hour session. This was distributed between 5 advisors. With more exciting developments coming we definitely taking a step in the right direction as we prepare for the roll out nationally.
Well after much consideration and with the hope that we can link into the Second Life (SL) Instant Messanger (IM), we will be investigating the possibilities of linking our Drug Advice Support (DAS) system with SL. This will allow us to communicate to subscribers through a Avatar in the SL Virtual Environment. This will present us with another possible market of people who might be in need of advice and support.
Quick update on DAS, I just added another 102 subscribers. We've had some comments that DAS should be available after our 5pm deadline. We hope to extend this time when we manage to get support with infrastructure and other resources...
The clip below just reinstates the possibilities with Second Life (SL). With proper infrastructure (connectivity and bandwidth etc.) in a developing community the possibility exists to setup a virtual space for very specific role play and interacting in a real environment that would normally not be possible in these communities. The possibilities are endless and hope this video serves as a reminder of what we could achieve with technology as an empowerment enabler.
The Official launch of the Living Labs network in South Africa was a huge success and many key stakeholders were present to witness this momentous ocasion. The launch took place 24 February 2009 and was hosted by Meraka Institute. The board of the network was established along with with its core focus: A joint vision of South Africa as a “competitive and progressive 21st century nation". Through user-driven, open innovation initiatives the development of a new mindset of the South African society as equal custodians of the building blocks to all forms of access and inclusion.
We are participating in the global economy and want to be recognized internationally for the contribution we will make as co-creators of the Global Knowledge Society.
Athlone Living Lab (ALL) was also represented and we are looking forward to collaborations with many other organisations and Living Labs accross South Africa. Currently the Athlone Living Lab phase one is being sponsored by COFISA, CPUT and Impact Direct Ministries (IDM). Already we are looking at some new exciting innovations that will not impact our local community but also the rest of the South Africa.