Recovery meets mobile development
Lilinkoti Foundation and Kodan partnered to create a mobile application for mental health and substance abuse recovery.
Lilinkoti Foundation, a non-profit organization in Helsinki, focuses on providing housing services for mental health and substance abuse recovery. In addition to housing units, the foundation also offers inclusive activities and is currently working on the development of the mobile game “The World of Recovery” – a mobile solution that Kodan brought from concept to application stores.
Navigating the digital path to recovery
"The application targets all the people who are in recovery nationwide, providing them with a digital tool that suits their needs, as many of the existing applications can be too challenging," shares Venla Leimu, Project Specialist at Lilinkoti Foundation, explaining the project's purpose and core idea.
The initial idea was to create a platform for people in recovery, where they could find inspiration in activities that are beneficial for their body and mind, such as going for a walk or discovering things from a different perspective. Lilinkoti Foundation aimed to develop an application that treats everyone equally and avoids a strict hierarchy. The goal was to provide users with a sense of independence, freedom, and positive experiences when using smartphones and digital applications.
"The client already had a prototype that worked in a web browser. However, they wanted to create a mobile application using the same design, making it easier to access and use on mobile phones," clarifies Osmo Someroja, a developer and consultant at Kodan.
"At first, we only used the web browser version, but it was quite challenging. Thankfully, Kodan stepped in and elevated the project to a whole new level by transforming it into a native application and making it available on application stores, reaching more people," adds Venla from Lilinkoti.
"The World of Recovery" is now available in application stores, and getting started is very easy: Create a character, read the instructions, and have fun completing the tasks. Take pictures, describe your environment and what matters to you. Earn points by being active and engaged, and progress through the storyline.
"The mobile version is perfect for group play. Simple tasks bring people together and spark conversations. We tested it with various groups, and tasks such as sharing one’s dreams and envisioning helped users share their achievements in real-time, and to other players," Venla concludes.
Overcoming technical challenges with React Native, Node.js and AWS
The plan was to make the application available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. However, developing for two different operating systems can be difficult and time-consuming. To solve this, Kodan used React Native, creating a single application and codebase that would function on both Android and iOS. The mobile application communicates with a Node.js-based backend that is running on the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. The system also includes a user-friendly, browser-based dashboard for picture management and feedback, which counselors can utilize.
"The control panel allows the counselors to provide feedback on tasks through the browser. Feedback is saved, but images are deleted after some time. Content is removed when it's no longer needed for the app," Osmo explains.
The app's features are optimized for the needs of the target group, encompassing accessibility and attention-grabbing elements. Also, Venla's expertise and collaboration with Kodan were crucial: Understanding Lilinkoti Foundation's welfare efforts and the challenges faced by the target group guided the technical development toward the optimal solution.
Immersing in the customer's world helps complex problem-solving
The partnership between Lilinkoti Foundation and Kodan has fostered a mutually beneficial collaboration, with both sides gaining valuable insights.
"Our initial knowledge about welfare work and Venla's understanding of mobile application development were close to zero. However, we have both learned a lot since then. I believe in immersing myself in the customer's world, understanding their language and challenges, to effectively solve complex problems. Venla appreciated that Kodan truly embraced their world instead of just developing the application. The extra effort guarantees the best possible solution for the customer. Diving into the customer's world benefits everyone involved," Osmo summarizes.
The outcome, “The World of Recovery” mobile application, is a specially crafted application designed for the recovery process. It has been collaboratively developed by designers, individuals in recovery, social and healthcare professionals, as well as skilled mobile developers. This collaborative effort has led to a mobile application that has already proven beneficial to hundreds of individuals across Finland. The application is available on Google Play and App Store.
The folks at Kodan quickly grasped what we were doing and why. They were genuinely kind, and they showed a real interest in this project. I felt that we really mattered to the people at Kodan.- Venla Leimu, Project Specialist at Lilinkoti Foundation.
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