The White House Wants Your Ideas For a College Rape-Prevention App

The White House has a challenge for you, software developers: They want you to devise a smartphone app whose purpose is to prevent rapes on college campuses.

Here are the requirements:

Vice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius are honored to announce a challenge that encourages the development of applications that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault. [...]

The application envisioned will offer individuals a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring. While the application will serve a social function of helping people stay in touch with their friends, it will also allow friends to keep track of each other's whereabouts and check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances. [...]

This application is envisioned to empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs

Okay, so there's your challenge. Very interesting. Let's talk this one out a little.

For starters, let's look at what technology is already available to us in this arena: namely, texting, email, and social media like Facebook and Twitter. What do they have in common? All require very precise typing on a tiny keypad to communicate. But if god forbid you are in a situation where you've been slipped some GHB or are merely very drunk, then even a five-word text message like, "HELP ME I'M BEING RAPED," can easily wind up reading, "HERMIONE BRING A MOPED." And where does that get you? Raped, that's where. (And with a very confused friend.)

This app should therefore have a clean, large interface — something along the lines of the "Touch to Shazam" button — that leaves no room for error. Once the button is pressed, then everyone in your "friends" section would be instantly alerted to your impending rape, which would satisfy the challenge's "social function" requirement. (The app could even incorporate something along the lines of Google+ circles, so, say, just your closest friends are alerted, and not your co-workers or grandparents.) The phone's GPS system would then tell them your exact location ("The call is coming from inside the frat house!") and help would be on the way.

So all that's left is to think of a catchy name. Cut the Rape? Blurred with Friends? Rapr? Branding is always the hardest part. [challenge.gov]