Supporting women who choose to breastfeed in public

Many new mothers stop breastfeeding early because they fear how people will react in public.

FeedFinder is a free mobile app that aims to support breastfeeding women by helping them find breastfeeding-friendly places in their community. Women can use FeedFinder to search for and view places on the map where other women have previously breastfed, and contribute their own experiences of a new or existing venue.

Designed and developed in collaboration with breastfeeding women, the review criteria in the app have been carefully crafted to meet women’s breastfeeding needs: comfort, hygiene, privacy and baby facilities. All of the data within the app has been contributed by the breastfeeding community.

Since its launch in 2013, FeedFinder has over 10,000 registered users adding reviews of more than 3,500 locations.

FeedFinder reviews constitute a unique dataset of women’s lived experiences of breastfeeding outside of the home; a useful resource for breastfeeding support networks and local public health initiatives. There is significant potential for organisations to be motivated to act on reviews from FeedFinder; for example, by contacting businesses with negative comments while commending those receiving consistently good ratings.

For more information please contact Madeline Balaam or Emma Simpson.

Technology and the On Hold movement

A new app aims to tap into and expand Greece’s “on hold” movement to encourage Greeks to support their fellow citizens.

Open Lab: Athens was set up in the summer of 2016 to explore the design and development of technologies that support and strengthen solidarity structures in Greece.

The OL: Athens team recently appeared on local radio to discuss their work and the political issues surrounding technology. They are working across a range of areas including education, health and democracy, but one of their most recent projects is with the “on hold” movement.

Customers in shops and cafes can buy extra products, such as a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread, “on hold”. The shopkeeper keeps them behind the counter to give to people who cannot otherwise afford them. In this way people can buy products for their fellow citizens.

OL: Athens has introduced App Movement to the on hold movement to create an app, On Hold Go. As with all App Movement projects, the app will be designed collaboratively by its future users, to reflect what they would like to see from it. This combination of organic social actions and digital technologies shows the potential for OL: Athens and has attracted the attention of local media.

Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, who leads OL: Athens, will also be taking part in a panel discussion at the launch of the European Social Innovation Competition, organised by the European Commission.

This year’s competition will be based around the theme of giving everybody equal access to the benefits of technological change. Vasilis will discuss this theme alongside industry leaders from across Europe.

Written by Mark Sleightholm. For more information please contact Vasilis Vlachokyriakos.

Helping young people find free condoms

Young people in the North East will be able to find places to access free condoms and sexual health information, thanks to an app generated using App Movement, an app-development platform developed as part of Newcastle University’s digital civics research.

The C-Card Condom Finder app allows users to find and review places they can use their C-Cards. C-Cards are available for free to anyone under the age of 25 across the North East, and give young people access to free condoms and sexual health information, with these services provided by a large number of participating outlets.

Mark Hedley, the C-Card Coordinator for Newcastle upon Tyne, explained:

“The C-Card Scheme is often the first experience young people have of accessing a service to discuss relationships and sexual health with a trained professional. Many young people coming along to C-Card outlets are not having sex yet but appreciate the opportunity to talk things through with an understanding member of staff and have access to free condoms as and when they need them.

“For young people the C-Card Condom Finder app will allow them to find out where their local C-Card outlets are and give them an opportunity to give instant feedback on how they felt they were supported whilst using their C-Card; outlets will then be able to use this information to influence service provision to meet the needs of all young people.”

The app was generated through App Movement, a platform developed by digital civics researchers at Newcastle University, which allows people to collaboratively commission and design their own apps. Anyone can begin by creating a campaign and gathering 150 supporters who can then collaboratively design and customize features of the app, including its name, the colour scheme and the criteria for rating locations. The app is then automatically generated by the platform and released on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Using the App Movement platform meant that young people were involved in the actual design process of their app. This fits within the digital civics approach of using technology to empower citizens.

Andy Garbett is a digital civics researcher and developed the App Movement platform. He explained:

“The partnership between the C-Card scheme and our digital civics programme is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on the sexual health initiative in the North East and enable young people to be more actively involved in the delivery of their C-Card service.

“Our digital civics research focuses on enabling citizens to take a leading role in the provision of community services. The App Movement platform allows a bottom-up approach to commissioning mobile applications and supporting communities in sharing their experiences with others. The C-Card Condom Finder app is a great example of how service users can shape the design and delivery of the services they utilise.”

Although most areas in the UK have schemes to provide free contraception and sexual health advice to young people, these schemes are currently fragmented, and coverage varies from region to region. The C-Card Condom Finder app has the potential to provide a single network of free condom providers.

For more information please contact Andy Garbett.

App Movement: a platform for the community commissioning of mobile applications

App Movement is an online platform that enables communities to propose and promote ideas for mobile applications in response to community needs, collaboratively design the concept through a series of customisable features, and automate the development and deployment of a customised app.

Through the design of the platform we hope to understand how communities can commission technologies and services in order to establish community driven information resources to improve everyday life of community members.

App Movement was launched in February 2015 and now has over 38,000 users who have created over 85 app campaigns and automatically generated 18 mobile applications to support communities in finding dementia friendly places, gender neutral toilets, and drone flying locations, and many more.


App Movement logo


The commissioning of technology remains firmly in the hands of those with the skills, resources, and knowledge to do so. App Movement is the first step to democratising this process and enabling anyone, anywhere to automatically generate their own mobile information resource and support their community in establishing a shared information resource in response to the issues they face.

Removing the technical and monetary restrictions to developing a mobile information resource and scaffolding the process of collaborative design allows more people to engage in the creation of technologies to support communities. In order to automatically generate mobile applications the platform uses a templating approach that allows citizens to select different app templates that can be used to support their community. Currently, the platform provides two templates; a location based rating and review service (similar to TripAdvisor), and a how-to guide to share knowledge on community specific topics.

The platform uses a three stage approach to scaffold the process of participation and development. These phases are the Support Phase, Design Phase, and Launch Phase.

The App Movement process

App Movement supportCitizens start by creating a campaign page, known as a movement, to share their idea and leverage support from their community. Similar to a Kickstarter financial target, App Movement requires citizens to gather 150 supporters within a 14-day period for the campaign to progress into the design phase. This ensures that the community are willing to engage with the idea as well as contribute and sustain the information resource when it’s launched.

App Movement designOnce enough people have supported the idea, the supporters are invited to a design area where they can contribute their ideas and vote on other submissions from the community to select configurable options of the app such as its name, colour scheme, rating options, and logo.

The design area also allows the community to discuss features they might like to see, or how they intend to promote the app. The design area has been developed to be simple and easy to use, in order to encourage contributions from all members within the community.

App Movement launchAfter a seven-day period the design area closes and the winning contributions are selected. They are then used by the platform to automatically generate the native app for both Android and iOS. The platform will then launch the apps in the Google Play and Apple App stores and notify the supporters to begin using the app.

App Movement benefits

  • Democratising the process of commissioning community-driven information resources through automatic app development
  • Removing the technical barriers to commissioning technology
  • Structuring the participation of citizens to engage in the design and development of tools to support communities
  • Establishing a community around an information resource before it is launched to ensure knowledge is contributed and sustained through community contributions
  • Empowering citizens to establish an alternative information resource for the collection of data that can be leveraged for the purpose of civic action

App Movement – where did it come from?

The App Movement platform draws upon our previous research deployment, FeedFinder, a location based review service for breastfeeding mothers to rate and review breastfeeding-friendly locations. Newcastle in particular has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding despite a large number of health benefits for both the mother and child, and in order to promote breastfeeding in public the digital civics research team coordinated with local NHS breastfeeding support groups to design and develop a smartphone app that enables mothers to rate and review the breastfeeding friendliness of local businesses nearby.

Launching in 2013, FeedFinder now has over 9,000 users who have contributed over 3,000 venues and more than 3,200 reviews within the application and continues to grow and support mothers in the UK as well as Europe, USA, Australia, and India. The research team at Open Lab have published a number of papers based upon women’s experiences of using FeedFinder and have observed first-hand the positive impact of FeedFinder on the lives of breastfeeding mothers.

App Movement usageThe potential for these forms of technology has been identified by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who recently awarded the FeedFinder project with a Digital Economy Social Impact award for research that rapidly realises the transformational impact of digital technology on community life, cultural experience, future society and the economy. The team are now working with NHS breastfeeding support workers to utilise the data within FeedFinder to improve existing healthcare provisioning through a data driven approach to understanding breastfeeding practices within the UK.

App Movement as digital civics

When deployed within a willing community, there is a high potential for these forms of technology to have a positive impact on everyday life. However, identifying these different community issues is a challenging task that is often limited by the scope of the research team.

To overcome this issue we developed App Movement. This enables citizens to take a more proactive and independent approach to identifying their own issues and developing technologies to support their communities. The platform removes the existing constraints of commissioning technology and democratises the development and design of mobile applications that support a community driven approach to sustaining information resources. Through establishing these shared information resources, we as researchers are able to understand and explore how these technologies are used within communities, but more importantly, communities themselves are able to use this knowledge to improve and overcome issues they face.


App Movement was developed at Open Lab by Andy Garbett, Edward Jenkins, Robert Comber, and Patrick Olivier.