Stay Safe on Campus With Anti-Violence App circleof6

March 21, 2012

9:43 am

circleof6, the winning app in from this summer’s Apps Against Abuse Challenge, which was sponsored by the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology, is now available in iTunes.

This icon-based app is geared for college students, a population that stays connected to their social network via mobile technology – and unfortunately in the age group with the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault.

Through use of the app and the pledge the creators have on Facebook, users declare:

I Won’t Let Violence Happen in My Circle.

Icons on the app represent actions to keep your activities disguised. In fact, it looks like a game. The app has detailed instructions that clearly are important to read through in advance. Choose 6 friends you can count on (make sure they live close by so they can reach you if needed).  Notify your circle via text message to let them know you’re counting on them (this functionality is built-into the app). Once completed, you can trigger your circle via one of three icons:

  • A Car Icon, which sends a text message that lets your friends know where you are and means “Come get me”
  • A Phone Icon, which means “Call me and pretend you need me”
  • A Chat Icon, which lets your circle know you need some advice or support. It isn’t a call to action like the others; instead it notifies the group of your mindset.

Options to contact RAINN’s rape crisis hotline, or a relationship abuse hotline, are available, as well as a check mark icon to let your circle know that everything is now ok.

The circleof6 creative team includes mobile and women’s health expert Deb Levine (isis-inc.org), filmmaker and violence prevention specialist Nancy Schwartzman (whereisyourline.org), award-winning designer Thomas Cabus (thomascabus.com), and MIT-trained app developer Christine Corbett Moran (kliq.in).

Vice President Biden said of the app,

“Thanks to the creativity and vision of these developers, young men and women now have a new line of defense against violence in their lives.”

circleof6 will be a part of ongoing efforts at the White House to help schools, colleges and universities better prevent and respond to sexual assault through Vice President Biden’s #1is2 Many Project and HHS’ Open.gov initiatives. The app has been downloaded more than 7,000 times to date and is being featured in Cosmo Magazine’s April issue as part of a yearlong campaign fighting campus rape.

circleof6 reminds me of another great mobile tool in the assault prevention toolkit we covered early last year called Bluelight. Utilizing the iPhone’s clock, contacts, messaging and GPS features, the app lets a friend know if you don’t arrive at a destination as planned.

Both apps get an important conversation started – the circleof6 team aims at raising awareness of this issue of dating and sexual violence by setting the goal of 30,000 downloads this year.  You can download the iPhone app here.

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Marla Shaivitz is a writer, developer and digital marketer. She’s interested in innovations & innovators in technology and those working toward social good. Follow Marla on Twitter at @marlashaivitz.

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