White House announces iPhone apps to address sexual abuse

And to think I thought the plot point on last week’s episode of “The Good Wife,” where they mentioned a “rape app” that allowed the investigators to establish the timeline, was just wishful thinking!

Nope, it’s real! This week, after a few months of a development contest set up by the Department of Health and Human Services and promoted by Vice President Joe Biden and The White House of Office and Technology, the administration announced today Apps Against Abuse.

The apps “Circle of 6” and “On Watch” are the two winning apps out of 30 submitted applications.

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.

Here are what the creators of the winning entries say about their apps:

Circle of 6 (pictured above)
“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.”

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4 Comments

  1. Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    well that’s neat but.. I can’t afford an iphone…

  2. Posted November 3, 2011 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    These apps should be ported to the Android platform as soon as possible, as Android phones are generally a lot more affordable than the iPhone. Also, these services would benefit from creating an SMS-based interface so that users with phone-first devices could leverage the technology as well.

  3. Posted November 3, 2011 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    I really hope that the android version (or future versions) have live streaming of video and audio to secure cloud storage.

    having video and audio evidence would allow you to take your assailant down like @shoeofallcosmos took down Judge William Adams.

    (in case you haven’t seen the video, it’s here. Domestic Abuse Trigger, Not safe for Life.)

    7 minute youtube clip of Judge William Adams, that ended his public life.

  4. Posted November 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I entered that challenge and ultimately didn’t win. My app, RealHelp, does stream audio, and very clearly. Pretty much with the touch of a button, everyone knows where you are, they can hear you, and they can even get any pictures that you send, all in real time. I thought that video might be a little bit too bandwidth intensive, and you have to point the camera right. It was hard enough to get the audio to run smoothly.
    I will be porting it to Android after the iOS version is perfected. The problem with Android is that there are so many phones with different capabilities. Cheap low end android phones may not have the processing power to run the app right.

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