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Connected Health » Mobile Phone Apps, Professional healthcare products » Can mobile phones and game mechanics help improve sanitation?

Can mobile phones and game mechanics help improve sanitation?

hand-washing-imagDespite the fact much has been done in recent years to improve sanitation, in some countries a startlingly low 15% of the population has access to clean water resources.

Many governments and organisations have been working together to promote behavioural change within communities in traditional ways, but given the recent statistic that more people across the globe now own a phone than they do a toilet certainly suggests that mobile technology could present a rather interesting and possibly effective opportunity to make bigger, more impactful changes.

Although many of those in developing countries don’t have the latest smart phone devices, Nokia handsets like the S40 are extremely popular, meaning organisations can use a number of mobile tactics to make an impact and spread important messages about sanitation. Given the Javascript capabilities of these devices, one way to really engage people could be through gaming.

Game mechanics have been applied to a number of different problems in order to make positive impacts on fitness, health and even encourage young people to better track their pain and mental well-being. Therefore, you’d expect similar tactics could be employed to get more people thinking about sanitation in the real world too.

In a recent report, Hattery Labs outlined some of the ways these communities could be engaged by mobile games and go on to make changes offline. The report suggested that a few key points are necessary to not only keep people entertained but ensure messages stick and are applied offline too, like raising awareness around the importance of sanitation, encouraging specific behaviour and getting people to care more about their community as a whole.

Some of the ideas outlined in the report include games about getting rid of bad bacteria with soap guns, memory games that require you to identify different kinds of germs and a maze-based game called toilet hunt.

Although these games may not sound as appealing as the lines of Angry Birds, with the right form of accessible tech, plenty of incentives and easy-to-understand messages these simple mobile games could have a positive impact on communities in developing countries.

Related: Pain Squad app adds game mechanics to health tracking

[Via Sanitation Updates Via Hattery Labs Image via PeaPod Labs]

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