3 Ways Technology Is Helping to Prevent Violence

Will there be a point when technology can evolve such that it could help intercept signals of potential violence before it happens? Or, a point where we can reduce violence and improve the health of communities across the globe with the simple click of a mouse? Anything is possible and these three initiatives are proving it:

  1. Sentiment Mapping: The Guardian recently profiled a new computer program, Emotive, that mines Twitter to map public sentiment. The program, which can analyze and geographically map up to 2,000 tweets a second, seeks to extract a direct expression of one of eight basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion. The developers hope the program can help police track potential criminal behavior and threats to public safety. While the system is currently being used in the UK only, the developers say it can be scaled up to monitor globally and have secured additional funding for enhanced features. Learn more: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/06/computer-program-twitter-public-mood-emotive
  2. Mobile Apps: PeaceTXT, which launched in 2011 in the US and 2012 in Kenya, leverages the power of text messaging to catalyze behavior change around peace and conflict issues. The program builds on the behavior change work Cure Violence has spearheaded since our inception–PeaceTXT simply scales our model by introducing SMS. The text messages provide reminders (ie: “Shooting and killing is not normal. Find another way to end the conflict.”) and encourage engagement by asking users to respond to various questions. Learn more: http://poptech.org/peacetxt
  3. Social Media: Start Strong, the largest initiative ever funded to prevent teen dating violence, counts social media as one of the four pillars of its approach. The initiative uses social media to reach teens online and spread the message that relationship violence and abuse should never be tolerated. For example, in 2011, teens in Boston participated in the first national, virtual “Break Up Summit” in which they were linked up online with peers in cities nationwide to participate in virtual training sessions on healthy splits. Learn more: http://www.startstrongteens.org/