This is the story of how one man built an application to connect and empower people and communities everywhere.
Joel Ackerman was a man with a dream. No matter how many years passed by, he wanted to stay as independent as he’d always been. Aware that as he aged, there would be new health and economic implications that could affect his lifestyle, Joel and his wife didn’t want to become a burden on his four kids. But that wasn’t something he could easily control. At least from a health point of view.
"In the 1990’s I realized that I’m a Baby Boomer, and there are a hell of a lot of us in the U.S. and worldwide. Society, healthcare, and communities were not preparing for that many people to become older adults at the same time. As we age, we may not be able to get out to the world as much as we used to, or would like. I started thinking about how rapidly evolving technology could bring more of the community and world services to us, wherever we are, to support active, independent, healthy, and fulfilling engagement."
At that moment, Joel had a vision: He wanted to design something that would enable him to age comfortably and safely at home while remaining as independent and engaged as possible, for as long as possible. And so Commun02 (Community Oxygen) came to life.
Empowering Communities: The Commun02 SuperApp
Using the OutSystems low-code platform, Joel developed a mobile application available for both Apple and Android devices that captures a 360° overview of people’s needs and assists them with innovative tools and services. Joel started by designing his vision based on his family home, but the concept soon became much broader and transformed into what would eventually become the Commun02 SuperApp and the Commun02 Community Partnership Program.
With Commun02, any member of a community can access the application with an easy single sign-on and user-friendly interface to browse local, national, and worldwide resources. The application includes services and tools from critical areas of day-to-day life.
Built in just 6 months, the Commun02 SuperApp allows any member communities that use the app to:
- Connect with family members and friends anywhere in the world for services and weddings, funerals, concerts, school alumni meetups, and anniversaries when they can’t physically be present.
- Experience and engage in one-on-one appointments, community education classes, weekly services of a church, synagogue, mosque, or municipal gatherings, and live stream events, such as community activities or organization gatherings.
- Enjoy personalized assistance through face-to-face on-screen video connections with city staff, merchants, and professional services.
- Request face-to-face digital visits with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, health coaches, as well as clergy, educators, and customer support services.
- Implement e-volunteering and e-respite programs, giving community youth and adults at home or work new and flexible opportunities to help others in the community or to receive assistance from others.
Enabling Continued Independence
By using OutSystems, Joel was able to deliver a friendly and easy to use application that anyone can utilize, regardless of age, health, ability, socio-economic position, education, location, language, or ethnicity. Talk about accessibility. Plus, the out-of-the-box security the app provides enables infrequent or novice users to connect with other people and services safely and soundly.
“As a former IT executive and management consultant, I had been looking for decades for a quality rapid, robust, and elegant development platform,” says Joel. “OutSystems was just what I had been seeking!”
Commun02 also replaced the need for a user to download and use many individual apps. And it has particularly helped to integrate older citizens into the community by connecting them with family and giving them access to community resources from the comfort of their homes or while they’re on the go.
“There is a lot of great technology available to help people stay connected and engaged. However, they are typically ‘bits and pieces’ that don’t work well together, each with its own user interface, learning curve, and little or no support. Furthermore, there are no community standards for remote engagement between the users and organizations,” Joel explains. “By solving these issues in one SuperApp with a unique community deployment model that is compelling, affordable, safe and secure, easy to use, and supported, we are making life better for individuals, families, organizations, and communities.”