The Challenge.gov website was launched in 2010 as an offshoot of U.S. President Barack Obama's Strategy for Innovation, a federal policy agenda meant to spur entrepreneurship in the wake of the global financial crises that surfaced in 2007/2008.
In 2011, Challenge.gov hosted an online "Apps Against Abuse" competition, collaboratively sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and theOffice of the Vice President. It asked Americans to think up new, digital tools to help prevent sexual assault and violence, with a focus on mobile devices and young adults, such as college students.
More than thirty apps were submitted to the Apps Against Abuse campaign. The winners of the challenge were these two apps:
Circle of 6: Originally developed for the iPhone, this app is now also available for Android. The original description said the app "makes it quick and easy to reach your circle of supporters and let them know where you are and what you need. It takes two touches to get help. The app uses text messaging to contact your circle, uses GPS to locate you when needed, connects to reputable domestic violence organizations, and asks contacts to take a pledge on Facebook to stop violence before it happens."
On Watch: Now called OnWatchOnCampus, this app, now available on both iPhone and Android, "lets you transmit critical information by phone, email, text, and social media to your support network. You can check in with friends, call 911 or campus police with two touches of a button, set countdown timers that send messages and GPS information automatically if events or activities don’t go according to plan, and connect to sexual assault, dating violence and domestic abuse hotlines."
I can find no evaluation on how well these apps work, if there are any cases of women that have used them and they feel their use prevented sexual abuse, ec.
All of the apps submitted for this event, designed almost exclusively for smartphones, have criticism from Brian Beaton, author from the paper Safety as Net Work: "Apps Against Abuse" and the Digital Labour of Sexual Assault Prevention, who says the apps "encouraged women end users to give themselves over to continuous group surveillance, or what has the potential to become continuous group surveillance, by friends, family members, and colleagues. In doing so, the applications seem to invite group evaluation of a woman's routes, decisions, habits, and actions by her closest social circle(s). Thus, the applications eradicate, or at least heavily complicate, the end user's ability to make decisions without open comment or judgment by others." He also says the development of these apps creates "a feminized distribution of responsibility and labour, fosters surveillance, and seems to encourage peer judgment."
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
Close this window