Summary: Anonymous data collection for governmental department
Roles: Development, project management
Partners: Slagelse Municipality, SSP
Back in college I was approached by a guy who heard I was into programming games. His father worked for a unit of the government called SSP, which in short is a sort of collaboration between schools, police and social services.
Their purpose is to protect the wellbeing of children and young adults. The work often involves sensitive topics such as substance abuse, and they had a pressing problem: the kids weren’t always being honest.
We teamed up with a smaller municipality near Copenhagen, and through collaboration with teachers, the SSP unit and school students, we developed a concept to help solve the issue. It was an app that the students could download, fill out a questionnaire and then toss away. It would collect aggregated, anonymized data so that no individual student could be identified, and SSP could then view the results from a backend. This allowed them to gain insight into trends and focus their activities where they were needed the most.
Back then I had never worked on apps before. As a matter of fact I didn’t even own a smartphone. I had no interest in them – I had long hair, my favourite book was Tao Te Ching, and that was good enough for me. I was programming using Game Maker 1.4, which had virtually zero support for layout, navigation or anything else you need to make a proper app. That didn’t stop us though, primarily because we didn’t know better.
It took us a few months to get it up and running. The app was responsive, light weight, had crisp velocity based animations, and to be honest it was pretty darn good. It was taken into use and almost immediately started producing results. Suddenly SSP could see statistical evidence of what schools had what kind of problems. The code was as janky as it gets (seriously), but everything worked perfectly.
For my business partner Johan and I, this was our first venture into entrepreneurship. Looking back is a reminder that lack of tools, skills, resources or experience do not have to stop you from accomplishing great things. There’s enormous power in open mindedness and entrepreneurial spirit.
On the business side it was a complete failure. We had no sales skills and more or less gave it away the product for free. The municipality did lend us a MacBook though, which to this day my girlfriend uses to watch shows online. Even bureaucracy forgets, but don’t remind them!
Ja Tak (Yes Please)