Mobile Instant Messaging: “Help at the Fingertips of Addicts”

Posted by marlonparker on Jul 10, 2010
Mobile Instant Messaging: “Help at the Fingertips of Addicts” data sheet 2027 Views
Wesley Nitsckie, Marlon Parker
ISSN/ISBN Number: 
Publication Date: 
Sep 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

An increase in gang and drug activity in South Africa has been causing tension within communities and has a negative effect on society. Treatment and counselling facilities are finding it difficult to cope with the influx of substance abuse cases. Traditional face-to-face counselling and telephone help-lines have come under pressure with this increased demand. This presented an opportunity to use mobile and web technologies to provide advice and support to people impacted by substance abuse problems.

This study indicates how a substance abuse counselling service called Drug Advice Support (DAS) uses technologies such as Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) and social networks to benefit and empower these communities in tension (CiT). The service makes it easy for persons with a mobile device with internet connectivity to access the service.

This paper takes an evolutionary journey through the design and development of the DAS system. It studies how the system evolved as an environment in which DAS was operating and co-developed with citizens in the Athlone Living Lab (ALL). The DAS system started with one advisor advising a few people, to multiple advisors advising as much as 471 conversations during a two hour period. It also shows how the implementation of such a system could be used to aid communities facing other social issues in South Africa and other parts of the world.