Hemmo App is a pro-bono project done for Pelastakaa Lapset Ry (Save the Children Finland). The app allows children in support families to send feedback and share their emotional states directly to PeLa employees, without intermediaries. The admin side lets workers receive the input and review it. Careful attention has been put into not having this tool replace valuable face-to-face discussions that the employees are doing with the families.
Pelastakaa Lapset Ry is the Finnish member organisation of the Save the Children International. Founded in 1922, they are a politically and religiously independent non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children both locally and in developing countries.
Pelastakaa Lapset Ry was looking for assistance for creating an app to help their employees better understand the experiences and the mood of the children visiting their foster homes.
The primary goals of the app are to a) receive feedback about the homes, in order to improve, and b) encourage the children to communicate; to not only share experiences, but their feelings and thoughts related to these experiences.
Hemmo app is meant to attract children to talk about all sorts of topics, and the employee will then, using their experience and intuition, extract the necessary information.
We decided to make an app with a game-like cartoony user interface. It will play prerecorded audio questions, talking to the child, and then record the response. The recorded response will be uploaded to the backend system, where it is only accessible to the authorised Save the Children employees. They will listen and read through the feedback, after which it will no longer be required, and can be erased.
There is no need to make the children identifiable in the communication between the client and the backend. The employee knows who the person leaving the feedback is. There is also no need to transfer information from the backend towards the client, other than a simple session token.
For the client technology we decided to go with React Native. This gives us both Android and IOS support, using mainly the same codebase. For the backend we chose Node.js and PostgreSQL.
A first pilot with two enthusiastic employees was run in 2016, with promising results: children have used Hemmo App to submit feedback, which employees could then review on the backend. Based on the initial feedback, a seond, improved version was designed, built and launched in 2017, to serve all PeLa offices. The launch has been rather slow, as not enough efforts have yet been put into engaging the employees. At the time of the writing (November 2017) we are working on this.
The immediate focus is on engaging the employees, showing them how to use the system and encouraging to try it with the children. Then when we hear the children's feedback, we will decide whether to continue working on this service or not.
We are also in the process of publishing this solution as open source. We have to change some graphics for that, because the Hemmo character is not our intellectual property to publish.