Last July, I wrote about a new and innovative effort to help address sexual assault and dating violence. While women of any age can be targets of this kind of abuse, young women aged 16-24, experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and 1 in 5 will be a victim of sexual assault during college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them.
Working with the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology, we launched the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge – calling on software innovators to harness the power of mobile technology to help prevent dating violence and abuse by keeping young adults connected to trusted friends and providing easy access to important resources for help including local police and abuse hotlines.
Today, we are pleased to announce the winners of the challenge: “Circle of 6” and “On Watch.” Prototypes of the two winning applications were selected from a pool of over 30 entries submitted to Challenge.gov.
Vice President Biden applauded the winning applications earlier today during a conference call with hundreds of college and university officials to discuss ongoing efforts to help better prevent and respond to sexual assault and violence on campuses across the country. He encouraged the college and university leaders to make students on their campuses aware of the applications when they become available for download in 2012.
The winning applications are described below. They will be available for free public download beginning in early 2012. We will highlight these applications on www.hhs.gov/open, as soon as they become available and will work with other federal agencies to help spread the word about their availability.
Circle of 6: This iPhone 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: On Watch is an iPhone app that 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.