Prepare to die
What’s your idea?
To produce a web service that helps and assists people in making and communicating decisions about what they’d like to happen to their body when they die.
The website would provide detailed information on available options – from burial and cremation through to more esoteric choices like burial-at-sea, cryonics and plastination. In addition, information would be provided on post-death organ, blood and bone marrow donation.
The information would be come from a mixture of sources, including ‘official’ information, editorially written pieces and user suggestions, and could be supplemented by user comments and annotations.
Having examined the options, users would have the option of expressing their preferences either publicly, or privately to friends and family. The mechanism for this would be whatever is most appropriate, and might be as simple as e-mail or might use existing networks such as Facebook.
What is the social need or challenge your idea could address?
Death is a socially awkward topic for many people, and deciding how to deal with the body of a recently deceased loved one can be the cause of much stress and anxiety. Prompting people to think about the options beforehand gives people the space to discuss this sensitive subject more openly.
In addition, there is currently a pressing need for greater numbers of organ donors. The website would help promote the NHS organ donor register, and allow people to better communicate their wishes to their family and friends (which is important as family members are consulted before organ transfers take place).
The website wouldn’t assume that these discussions happen exclusively online, but would allow people to initiate the conversation in a less socially awkward manner.
What’s really new about your idea?
There is lots of information already online about the range of services available, but these are mostly targeted at the recently bereaved, rather than those considering their own deaths.
In addition, there appear to be no web services that attempt to get people talking about this subject, and which allow people to express their wishes.
What inspired you to come up with your idea in the first place?
We thought it’d be good to look at how the social web might help in areas that are currently taboo or socially awkward. We realised that death was one of these, and that there was also a practical need for people to better understand and discuss the options.
From 1-5, what stage of development would you say your idea was in?
The idea is in stage 1. We’ve thought a fair bit about the idea, and have done some initial research.
What can we do for you?
Most important is a mentor, to help us better understand the idea and the issues involved, followed by a funder to help provide the resources to develop the idea. We are already geeks, and could develop the website ourselves, but would welcome the input of other geeks, and especially designers.
If Social Innovation Camp is able to help push your idea forward, do you have the time or desire to take ownership of it?
We would be happy to take ownership of the idea, at least in the initial stages, but would also consider working with a public organisation.
Tell us anything else you think we should know, but keep it to less than 150 words.
The working title is ‘Prepare to die’ – although this probably wouldn’t be the final project name, and shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the idea isn’t being treated seriously, with solemnity and respect.
This idea was submitted by Frankie Roberto.