December 25, 2012

Save Your Sister : Mobile app to prevent rape

While hanging the rapist or castrating him may cause smug justification to society at large, it is of little value to the victim and the immense anguish that she has to suffer. Here is an idea that uses the technology that almost every woman has in her hands to help prevent rapes in the first place. It is based on a mobile app that can be used with a phone equipped with GPS, a data connection and camera -- things that are not too difficult to find on modern smart phones.

The app -- Save Your Sister (SYS) -- has three major functions, namely (a) to identify the users current position, (b) to alert others  of where she if she is in danger and (c) to take and transmit photographs of the attacker should an assault actually happen -- and it could work like this.

In the "dormant" state when the woman is under no apparent threat, the SYSapp simply keeps a record of the current position of the phone ( and the woman carrying it) and makes sure that both GPS and data transfer is operational.

If the woman moves into an area where is she is alone and is otherwise feeling threatened and scared, she "arms" the app. Immediately SYSapp starts transmitting the GPS determined position of the woman to a central server. Now two things happen.
  • A message goes to the nearest police station or outpost that is registered with the central server so that police know that there is a woman who is feeling scared. 
  • Other peer-users of SYSapp, volunteer "good samaritans", who are in the physical vicinity of the woman get a message on their SYSapp/phone and are alerted to the fact that there is a woman nearby who needs help. The position of the woman also shows up as on a Google Map inside SYSapp.

These peer user, good samaritans, if they are in a position to help, can now activate their SYSapps and start converging on the woman. Observers at the central location can watch the movement of the active "good samaritans" on Google Maps. By observing the respective positions of the woman and the "good samaritans" central observers can co-ordinate their movements as well. The woman can be informed via SYSapp that help is on the way.

In the eventuality of an actual assault, the woman will simply "activate" the SYSapp. Now two things will  happen.
  • The good samaritans who are converging towards the woman will now get a red alert on their SYSapp and they should start running towards the woman in distress and 
  • SYSapp will now start taking pictures of the crime scene using the camera phone and start transmitting them automatically. If the woman can just point the camera towards the criminal, his face will be photographed and stored on the central system.

With luck, the "good samaritans" would arrive at the scene in time and prevent the crime but even otherwise the police will have enough pictures of the assailant to nail him down later.

Obviously SYSapp will not be useful in remote, rural areas where woman may not carry smartphones capable of running apps. But in urban and semi rural areas, even if there one or two "good-samaritans" around who are willing to help a woman in distress, quite a few rapes can be prevented. 

icon image taken from


SM said...

I think like every good technological solution this one has a flip side to it. The same app can be used by the predators to know of the alone woman in the vicinity. Knowing the sensibilities of the people and the police in India, again the solution would fail as police would not respond fast enough and people may just turn the app on without much evident threat. Moreover, the citizen to police personnel ratio would also make it infeasible for the police to help and if it tries to do so efficiently then there would be considerable inefficiencies on other fronts. Also, if the woman is under attack I don't think she would be able to point the camera at the attackers as her primary focus would be to run away as fast as possible. But yes, the app may well prove to be a psychological deterrent.

Prithwis said...

We really love to explore why a new idea will NOT work but consider ...

Will a predator be comfortable if he knows that his position is known and being monitored?

Is the number of predators in society higher or lower than the number of good samaritans?

Can the central service not be managed by NGO volunteers or special police officers who can speak directly to local police?

Obviously the solution needs tuning.

ToTheServiceOfTheHumanity said...

Currently many of the offenders escape, since the police refuse to register and inquire caes of failed attempts.
This can provide proof other info needed for police to act. Also compels them to act since it is on the central server.

Unknown said...

It's really a wonderful mobile application. It may look funny but will definitely save many lives (Virginity).
I like it!
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