Future Of Health: Temporary Communities

Future Of Health: Temporary Communities

Better networking tools are enabling people to assemble quickly, anywhere around one or more shared connections such as location, interest or affiliation, often for the purposes of accomplishing a common goal.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 2 august 2010

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This post is part of a PSFK Consulting project aimed at providing insight into the Future of Health. Temporary Communities is one trend of fifteen that appears in our exploration of  how technology and access to information play a vital role in the ways that people will understand, manage and receive care whether that’s at home, in hospitals and clinics or in doctor’s offices.


Better networking tools are enabling people to assemble quickly around one or more shared connections such as location, interest or affiliation. These gatherings can occur anywhere and are often centered around accomplishing a common goal. These systems create hyper-relevant networks that communicate ideas and distribute information across groups.


  • Faster Formation – Groups of people can be quickly brought together for training, vaccination and emergency relief.
  • Decentralized Broadcast – Citizens can gain information without having to go through potentially unreliable information channels.
  • Task-Based Messaging – Local teams can quickly distribute tasks among geographically diverse people.
  • Relevant Messaging – Allowing users to create their own message boards around relevant topics can provide a forum for community issues.

Supporting Examples for Temporary Communities


Service Keeps People Connected In A Crisis
InSteDD has developed GeoChat, a service for coordinating the efforts of different relief organizations on the ground to help ensure an organized, rapid response following a crisis. The platform is a flexible open source group communications technology that lets team members interact to maintain shared geospatial awareness of who is doing what where — over any device, on any platform, over any network, using SMS, email or web browser.


Mobile Phone Neighborhood Message Board
BlockChalk is an app for the iphone that allows people to leave behind virtual messages and see what other people are saying in the immediate vicinity. It acts as a localized digital bulletin-board where users in its proximity can ask or answer questions and share useful information about the neighborhood.


Instant Hyperlocal Sharing
Nokia Instant Community is a technology in development that can create communities on mobile devices within close range of each other. Without the need for an internet connection, it relies on an ad-hoc wifi to establish and exchange information with others. Through the service, users can instant message with people nearby, as well as share pictures, songs, contact info and other types of content.


Web Platform Provides A Way For People To Organize Spontaneously
Meetup is a web-based platform that provides social groups the ability to announce, organize and meet in the real world. Their “everywhere” service helps followers of companies and organizations to know about each other so that they can communicate and even meet up.


Virtual Assistant Turns Check-ins Into Meet Ups
MeetGatsby uses location-based data from Foursquare to match nearby strangers who may be interested in meeting. Users participate by linking their Foursquare account to the Gatsby service, identifying interests that they may share with others. Upon check-in, Gatsby sends a text to notify users when a match is nearby, allowing for a text conversation to be held instantly.


Chat Tool Allows Group Conversation Over Text Messaging
US-based onebluebrick has created Fast Society, a tool that lets users create a message board-like forum just with text messaging. When a user sends out a text through the service, it creates a group chat that lets multiple people read and respond to the thread through text messaging. Users start an event with a text, then when it’s over can review the event on its own web page. The service also allows groups to easily coordinate conference calls. This allows easy, short communications among groups without the need for an internet connection.

About PSFK’s Future Of Health Report


PSFK’s Future of Health Report details 15 trends that will impact health and wellness around the world. Simple advances such as off-the-grid energy and the introduction of gaming into healthcare service offerings sit alongside more future-forward developments such as bio-medical printing. The report includes concepts for UNICEF based on the trends provided by the world’s leading advertising and design agencies. It is our hope that this report will inspire your thinking and lead to services, applications and technologies which will allow for more available, quality healthcare.


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