Hello Sunday Morning Scales Counselling Support by Ten-fold on AWS
Founded in 2010, Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) is an Australian nonprofit organization that helps people change their relationship with alcohol. It offers users pathways to professional health support, and a community of like-minded individuals looking to change their alcohol consumption habits. In 2016, HSM introduced Daybreak—an application designed to facilitate access to this community online—allowing users to share posts with each other about their sobriety journeys and have one-on-one conversations with health coaches on the app’s chatrooms. Through Daybreak, Australians can anonymously seek personalized around-the-clock support on their mobile devices at no cost. To date, the app has garnered close to 80,000 downloads and serves up to 7,000 monthly active users.
Using AWS has helped us glean insights from our data to quickly make the changes needed to better serve our users.”
General Manager and Daybreak
Co-Founder, Hello Sunday Morning
Helping Users Cope in a Global Pandemic
In early 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak led to lockdowns across the nation. 25 percent of adults were drinking more than what they were consuming prior to the lockdowns, according to a national poll commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education in April 2020. It was during this period that HSM experienced its largest uptick in people accessing Daybreak in Australia.
Due to its digital accessibility, Daybreak rose in popularity as face-to-face support groups for alcohol-related problems were unable to conduct regular in-person meetings. There was a 15 percent increase in the number of daily active users for Daybreak, compared to the same period last year. Similarly, in April 2020, HSM recorded 52 percent more downloads of the app than in April 2019. Thanks to its early investment in Amazon Web Services (AWS), HSM could rapidly scale Daybreak to meet the surge in user demand, offering increased support to many Australians during a global pandemic.
Addressing Early Challenges
Roger Falconer-Flint, head of marketing, HSM, says, “Some Australians were going through a very challenging transition during this period, and we’re grateful that our early investment in AWS gave us the tools to extend support to more users in their time of need. Had we relied on the disparate workloads across cloud service providers (CSPs) prior to going all-in with AWS, we would not have been able to scale the app reliably to meet this surge.”
Before launching Daybreak, HSM ran multiple workloads across different CSPs, including AWS. In 2016, when the cloud-native app was introduced, developers at HSM realized the lack of integration across different CSPs was causing app maintenance to be disruptive, and gave rise to other issues such as a lack of scalability. As such, HSM decided to go all-in with AWS in 2018.
Gustavo Gambarini, lead software engineer, HSM, says, “AWS was best placed to help us manage the Daybreak app in a secure, flexible and scalable manner.”
With its prior experience with AWS services like Amazon Athena, HSM found the all-in migration to be a seamless process. It now uses AWS services like Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to manage the app. With its workloads consolidated onto one service provider, HSM is now able to meet the needs of more who have found themselves cut off from support—up to 35,000 weekly active users, ten times more than before AWS integration—with no increase in costs.
Corporate and government partners recognized Daybreak’s success in supporting Australians struggling with alcohol consumption, before and during the pandemic. In April 2020, the Australian Government bolstered Hello Sunday Morning’s funding by AU$1.5 million to boost its technical and critical IT support, and to hire extra counsellors to support the increased usage by new and existing clients.
HSM is working on a substantial rebuild of Daybreak for release in the second half of 2021. The new Daybreak app will provide additional capabilities to facilitate self-reported data collection among users, such as the posts they share within the app’s community. This will help HSM better understand how some users—including those who have successfully reduced their reliance on alcohol—use the app, and design an experience that has increased chances of helping others reduce their alcohol consumption.
“Using AWS has helped us glean insights from our data to quickly make the changes needed to better serve our users. We are now able to provide more visibility to the government on how the funding has been put to use,” comments Jamie Moore, general manager and Daybreak co-founder at HSM.
HSM is exploring the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning models to rapidly identify posts shared by users on the app that could indicate a need for intervention, facilitating a quicker response from medically trained professionals. Moore concludes, “We look forward to experimenting with more services from AWS and reaching out to more Australians in need—one Sunday at a time.”
To hear more about the Daybreak app, listen to the Hello Sunday Morning episode on the AWS Fix This podcast.
About Hello Sunday Morning
Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) is a nonprofit organization based in New South Wales, Australia. Founded in 2010, it aims to help people change their relationship with alcohol. In October 2016, HSM released the Daybreak app to help those who struggle with their alcohol consumption, through community and professional support via their smartphones. It has reached nearly 80,000 online users within Australia and worldwide.
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