Making this world come true starts with looking at planning in a completely different way. Clearly, all dreams mentioned above come down to complex last minute planning issues. Planning is a way of matching demand and supply, of searching for an optimum in human communication. Reaching this optimum is difficult enough within a group of five people.
But when more people are involved, the communication process becomes so complex that we tend to invent ways to simplify the communication. That is when standardization comes in. Standardizing hierarchical structures, rule sets and human activity is a way to 'control' complexity. It is a way to get back the overview that we so desperately want. The price we pay for standardization is inflexibility. People must stick to the plans and schedules because it would cost an enormous amount of time to reach a new optimum.
But there is also another way. There is no need for fixed schedules and long time plans but a need to be flexible, agile and adaptive so that human preferences become paramount. In order to help people to articulate their preferences and to handle the accompanying challenges, Almende has developed ASK, a communication platform based on the principles of self-organization.
ASK makes the best connections between people that most of the time do not know each other and uses feedback from previous connections to arrange a better match next time. The system estimates the quantity of the demand and supply during the day and takes initiatives to ensure that contact can always be made. Every participant can up-date his/ her own availability and reachability information on the internet.
For the fist time ASK is now being implemented in an elderly home at Humanitas Rotterdam Zuid. Elderly people pushing their alarm button are connected to a server that classifies their question by means of speech recognition. ASK matches them instantly with the best and available volunteer or professional and calls them on their PDA/ mobile phone. The PDA can also register the start and end time of the care session and can communicate this with an existing planning tool.