Newark Launches Hackathon to Protect Women From Violence

Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras J. Baraka on Nov. 10 announced the launch of the Women’s Safety Hackathon, with the intention to create a technology that makes Newark safer for women.

“Women’s safety is an issue that affects all of us, even nationally,” Baraka said to NJ.com, after a City Hall news conference announcing the competition. “The way we objectify and look at women, and how they become victims, it’s time for us to use the technology that we have, and that we’re exploring in the city of Newark, to protect what I think is one of the most vulnerable populations in our community.”

The Hackathon is the latest step in Baraka’s Newark 3.0 plan, a series of technology initiatives and partnerships with businesses and universities to draw residents and development to the city.

Those interested in taking part in the Women’s Safety Hackathon will have three months to develop a technology that will improve safety for women in Newark. All submissions will be collected over the Internet, with a formal “show-and-tell” scheduled for February. The winner will receive $15,000 to bring their prototype to life for scheduled deployment on June 1, 2017; the winner will then also receive $35,000 to maintain the system for one year. The city is seeking submissions nationwide.

“Using technology to improve the lives of residents is what Newark 3.0 is all about,” said Baraka. “I am excited to see what kinds of solutions great minds can come up with.”

According to the city, the Hackathon is being conducted in conjunction with the Department of Health and Community Wellness and the Department of Public Safety. City officials also said representatives of the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will help judge the entries.

“The tech community is always innovating, here we are asking the techies to innovate for social good,” said Newark Chief Information Officer Seth Wainer.

Four “use cases” for the technology were presented at the announcement:

  • Safety on the Street–Women are often in danger, and feel in danger, by simply being present on the street. Technology could facilitate and improve bystander intervention and other methods to help reduce street crime aimed at women.
  • Domestic Violence–Inside homes and families, women are at often risk for violence. Violent relationships are often ongoing and known to the community.
  • Teen Dating–Women and teenage girls are susceptible to intimate partner violence while dating. With better awareness and training, technology could help teens in Newark address violence, whether they or a friend is experiencing it.
  • Evidence Collection–Often the lack of evidence is why violent acts against women are not prosecuted successfully. Technology could enable improved evidence collection and prosecution rates.
Kate DeNardi
About Kate DeNardi
Kate DeNardi is 21st Century State & Local's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs
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