Protecting Vulnerable People
"Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious life-long consequences," the World Health Organization states. Almost every second child endures some form of abuse during childhood or adolescence in some parts of the world. The difficulty in identifying child abuse is that children frequently are unable to identify an interaction as abusive; if they do, they withhold information out of fear and shame; and that abuse occurs from both known and unknown individuals to the child.
There are numerous mobile applications that inform parents of their children's whereabouts, receive notifications about their precise location, access their devices remotely, enable children to quickly contact parents, trusted individuals, or authorities if they feel threatened; however, our IDT-based app, the TwinUp (in development), aims to predict possible abuse events, thereby reducing the chances of children from getting into an abusive situation in the first place.
Help Children Avoid Abusive Events
Child abuse situations vary significantly by neighborhood, culture, or country. Thus, the TwinUp app is pre-loaded with a community-specific abuse risk profile. The abuse risk profile is based on a Reference Events Model (REM) that considers a variety of factors relating to abuse incidents and how children respond to abuse experiences in a specific environment. A parent or caregiver configures the TwinUp for their child by providing basic background information and designating individuals in the child's environment as persons of trust with whom the TwinUp can communicate when within range of the child.
The TwinUp learns the child's routines, provides estimates for deviations from that routine, and finally projects an abuse risk score. When the anticipated risk score exceeds a reference value (calculated by the TwinUp from the REM), the TwinUp can initiate a series of steps based on the parents' initial configuration to minimize the possibility of an abuse events.
With time and the use of the TwinUp by many parents in a community, the app's prediction accuracy will improve accordingly.
Help Women Avoid Abusive Events
As with the TwinUp for children protection, the TwinUp for women's safety learns its user's behavior patterns and, based on a community risk profile established in a Reference Events Model (REM), assigns risk levels to various daily situations.
On the one hand, an adult's life is more complex and diversified than that of a child; on the other, this complexity provides the TwinUp with additional data and digital interactions to learn the user patterns and sentiments.
Similar to the TwinUp for children, a critical component of maintaining safety for adults is maintaining a digital network of trusted individuals and friends. Another consideration is determining a person's overall sentiment based on their digital interactions. This enables the TwinUp to assess its user's stress levels and rely on it to predict risk, as stressed individuals may be less aware of the ramifications of particular choices.
Based on the projected risk score, the TwinUp can notify their user to raise their awareness or recommend that they vary their routines and become unexpected, thus minimizing the likelihood of critical encounters.
How is the TwinUp App Different?
There are many apps for protecting children and keeping women safe that give detailed, real-time information about where a child is and what is going on around them.
However, as with any risk, the key is to find ways to lessen it. We thus think a safety solution should focus on: predicting risky situations in advance so that the child and the parents have time to act BEFORE something bad happens.
Protecting children or adults from abuse is a necessary first step toward supporting them in other aspects of their lives, such as predicting and lowering stress, predicting and managing addictions, or improving care for children with disabilities.