Students from the Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion developed an innovative social volunteering platform that aids volunteers, volunteer organizations and those in need. The “Enoshi” (‘humane’ in Hebrew) platform is based on the ‘wisdom of crowds’ and on information exchange, and facilitates effective volunteer management including the linkage between volunteers and people in need of assistance. Today, the platform serves as a volunteer management network for Holocaust survivors, and its developers are hoping to expand into other areas of volunteer services.
This unique platform was developed by Technion students Nir Ben-Haroe, Michal Burstein and Omer Arad during the Android Application Development Course they took, led by Prof. Eran Yahav, Teaching Assistants Omer Katz and Zvi Listopad, and course lecturer Lior Bruder.
“A person who chooses to volunteer discovers that searching for volunteer opportunities becomes a very cumbersome and often discouraging process, ” explains Michal Burstein. “They must approach a voluntary association, announce their willingness to volunteer, and wait to be matched up with an appropriate assignment that can accommodate their volunteering schedule. Since each organization has its own pool of volunteers, the volunteer must turn to each of these organizations separately.”
“The system we developed lets you find a volunteering assignment quickly and with relative ease near your home, ” adds Omer Arad. “Each person that signs up for the application indicates their home address and selects the area of volunteer work that interests them through predefined categories such as: emotional support, assistance to clinical staff, repair work, driving assignments, etc.”
“Once the user signs up for the application, they receive information about people who need assistance within the proximity of their place of residence, thus letting the volunteer choose their volunteering opportunity, as opposed to the conventional way, which is more time consuming (it involves the field coordinator of an organization putting volunteers in contact with the person in need of assistance). The “Enoshi” application forms this connection on its own, and according to Arad, “Takes into consideration the location of residence of the potential volunteer and the person in need, thereby cutting through the formalities set by the voluntary association, and effectively manages the matching up of volunteers to open assignments. This also allows volunteers to put in their volunteering hours when it suits their schedule without obligation. It should also be noted that the application protects the privacy of people in need of assistance.”
The idea for the application was conceived by Karin Komkov and Moran Shribman, visual communications students from the NB Haifa School of Design. It was based on a meeting that the group members had with representatives of the volunteer organizations ‘Ruach Tova’ and ‘Latet’ and with people from the Holocaust Survivors’ Welfare Fund. At this meeting, the students learned about the needs and processes by which these associations operate and designed the application accordingly.
“This is an innovative idea carrying great potential, ” stated Dima Malkin, who serves as a field coordinator for the ‘Latet’ organization (in the Haifa area), “because it allows us to call up volunteers that are not regularly active and who are not interested in committing to long-term assignments. This application locates potential volunteers (in terms of time available and distance to an assignment), and gives non-active volunteers more volunteering opportunities.”
The platform is currently being used to manage volunteers assisting Holocaust survivors. Its developers are confident that it will gradually expand into other areas of volunteer services.