SOS on my phone: An analysis of motives and incentives for participation in smartphone-based volunteering (Germany) 2018


Authors: Aike C. Horstmann, Stephan Winter, Leonie Rösner, Nicole C. Kramer

Published in: Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management - Special Issue - Human Computer Interaction and social Media in Safety Critical Systems. Volume 26, Number 1 March 2018.

The project is a cooperation of the University of Applied Sciences Ruhr-West (Bottrop), the University of Duisburg-Essen (Social Psychology: Media and Communication), the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration and Management of North Rhine-Westphalia, and CKS Systeme GmbH.

The aim of this research was to analyse the potential for new technologies to support volunteer engagement in emergency response. In the event of a disaster a significant portion of emergency relief is undertaken by volunteers.

This paper introduces a smart-phone based system for prequalified volunteers allowing registered volunteers to be contacted by authorities in times of need. A system like this would have advantages in that authorities could preselect and coordinate skilled volunteers to match a specific emergency situation. This study aims to identify motives of potential users and incentives for participation in the system using online surveys to collect data.

The study showed that overall evaluation of the smart-phone system is positive with relatively high willingness to participate. Value-oriented motivations and career-oriented motivations were shown to influence participants’ willingness to use the system. People who consider themselves capable of handling the technology are more willing to participate in smart-phone based volunteering. The findings suggest that value-oriented and career-oriented volunteers would be the appropriate target market for this system. Through highlighting the opportunity to help others and opportunities for career development volunteers could be motivated to participate in the system.

The study showed a positive response in general to the idea of a smart phone app and concluded that new technologies represent an area of huge untapped potential that can be used to support and improve volunteering opportunities.

Read the full article here.