We can’t be very specific about our main mobile project because it’s under NDA, but let’s describe as precisely as possible without breaking our confidentiality obligation. In this case we developed a mobile interactive application and a CMS for human rights purposes for our partner Hivos People Unlimited. Hivos has been our partner since 2017 and we the partnership started with another short project which we can’t mention. Hivos required our expertise to cover security leaks, after an audit that could not be fixed by the then development team of that small app. After we were able to fix the security issues, we developed a long lasting and trusting relationship with Hivos which has lasted till date. Since 2017 we have developed a range of software for this amazing company which is at the forefront of the fight for equal human rights. We digitalize processes which would otherwise be manual thereby helping to speed up the fight for equality.
In order to get in touch with a marginalized community, a group of human rights activists were using manual, easily traceable, less secure technologies like WhatsApp and Telegram for communication. A more secure system and software as a means of communication was sought after. A software which can not be easily shut down by the hostile government of the marginalized community. Our expertise was called for in this case and we set about doing our job as we do.
We developed a mobile application using ReactNative. We first of all chose this technology, because it is cost effective and can be deployed for both Android and iOS using the same slim code base. A more costly alternative would have been to develop native apps using Swift or Objective C for iOS and Java for Android.
Before starting the development we spent extensive time planning all the features of the application and discussing them in detail with Hivos.
After the detailed planning our designer for the project took to the profound task of creating slick UX frames and designs for the optimal user experience and satisfaction. The design was created also with a high end look and feel to remain lastingly pleasing to the eye.
We ensured the mobile application is secure for the marginalized community by implementing techniques like:
- Allowing only the creation of anonymous accounts with simplicity. With only two pieces of data - username and password - a user can create an anonymous account
- On leaving a login area, even for a split second, a logged in user is already logged out
- Techniques were implemented to prevent Denial Of Service attacks
- Excellent end to end encryption was implemented to prevent Man In The Middle attacks and also prevent the reading or secret modification of data
Three separate environments were created for the deployment process - development, testing and production environments. A test environment is crucial for the marginalized community to be able to test new features before they are deployed to production.
A CMS was created using React.js which was efficiently using the same backend as the ReactNative frontend of the mobile application. The CMS is used to create content for the mobile application.
A forum section was created to allow the marginalized community members to communicate with advisers administering the app.
The testing of the application by the marginalized community and activists was a major challenge, which pushed the deadline of approval of the application by a couple of months. Due to the fact that these two aforementioned parties were not technically versed and could not properly communicate in English, we had an extremely difficult situation in our hands.
We overcame this hurdle by being extremely patient and having demonstrative video screen sharing sessions to quickly identify and fix occuring bugs and clarify misunderstandings. An initiative of the activists to hire a technically versed project manager who could speak their language and english also help enormously.
An very stable mobile application, expandable, duplicable mobile application is the result of this project. The beauty of the application also stands out to its users and has received countless praise.
The CMS was not created to be beautiful, but functional in other to remain within budget limitations, but also have a highly resourceful and scalable application
Nature of Project
Remote, but with an initial 2 day workshop in Berlin with all major participants in the project present. Members of all teams involved composing of about 5 nationalities.
Hivos was founded in 1968, inspired by humanist values. Its founders held the conviction that development work should be secular, as true cooperation presumes respect for differing beliefs. In their first ever brochure, their founders wrote that “necessary changes should spring from communities themselves – from people at the base of society.” These convictions are still reflected in their work and we are proud to be digital partners of Hivos.