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Using technology to empower women's safety

Posted by Becca Rawcliffe, Dal News on July 10, 2017 in News
Left to right: JeyaBalaji Samuthiravelu (CS master's student), Michael Altair (undergrad CS student), Dr. Kirstie Hawkey, Dr. Raghav Sampangi, Dr. Mike Just (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh), Dr. Alette Willis (The University of Edinburgh). (Provided photo)
Left to right: JeyaBalaji Samuthiravelu (CS master's student), Michael Altair (undergrad CS student), Dr. Kirstie Hawkey, Dr. Raghav Sampangi, Dr. Mike Just (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh), Dr. Alette Willis (The University of Edinburgh). (Provided photo)

A team of interdisciplinary experts in privacy, security and personal safety led by faculty and students from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science, the University and Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh are joining teams from 18 countries to compete in the Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE.

The $1-million competition challenges teams from across the globe to leverage technology to empower communities with a transformative solution that ensure women’s safety.

Among the competing teams are app developers, technology researchers, academic institutions and start-ups. Proposed solutions should autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders.

A collaborative effort

 

Team PRISM will be exploring the potential for using mobile devices and sensors to ensure a person’s personal safety.

“Through research conducted over the last eight months, we have been developing an understanding of perceptions of the notion of safety,” said Raghav Sampangi, Faculty of Computer Science instructor and project lead.

“Safety is a hot topic in research currently and we feel there are real opportunities to utilize various features of today’s devices and sensors to recognize potentially unsafe areas and changes in perceived personal safety. Working with colleagues at home and overseas, we are passionate about using technology to make the world a better and safer place.”

Technology for safer communities

 

The Women’s Safety XPRIZE, sponsored by entrepreneurs, philanthropists and XPRIZE trustees Anu and Naveen Jain, was launched in India in October 2016 at a United Nations day reception in New Delhi.

“We strongly believe that safety is a fundamental human right and should not be taken for granted,” says Anu Jain, entrepreneur and lead sponsor of the competition. “With the Women’s Safety XPRIZE, we hope to unlock an exponential transformation in the way community members can empower safety for everyone through technology. We are delighted with the participation and look forward to seeing problem solvers all over the world tackle this critical challenge as the competition unfolds.”

The 20-month XPRIZE will announce up to 25 finalist teams in October 2017 and will then embark on final testing through April 2018. The winner for the prize will be announced in June 2018.