It’s Gauteng’s Turn to Tackle Gender-based Violence through Tech


Did you know that between 2018 and 2019, Gauteng experienced the highest number of recorded crimes against women out of all nine provinces in the country[1]?  In that time,  45,238 cases were reported[2]. Gauteng was also the second most dangerous province for children during this period, with 8,599 cases of crimes against children being filed[3].

Gender-based violence (GBV) will be the focus of a hackathon taking place in Johannesburg on the 28th and the 29th of March 2020, during which innovative digital solutions to this scourge will be devised by emerging software developers, IT professionals, trainers, civil society organisations, students, academics and professionals.  The hackathon is the second in a four-part series taking place in Cape Town and Johannesburg and forms part of an initiative of the US Embassy in South Africa called Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real World Challenges.

This edition, being hosted in partnership with the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, will see attendees exploring what can be done to make communities safer, investigating how best to respond to threats, and producing tech that could save lives. To help take their concepts to the next level, they will also be paired with mentors who can provide expert guidance.

At the inaugural event held in Cape Town last year, ideas produced ranged from apps and wearable devices, to panic buttons and educational games, but the winning concept came from a team called SmartWare which designed an app that helps to prevent incidents of GVB before they happen. The app offers a two-pronged approach to this by not only acting as an education platform for communities about GBV, but by also serving as a panic button for those in danger. 

When triggered, either by pressing the volume button on one’s cellphone while it is in idle mode or by dialling ***#, the phone will send a broadcast SMS every minute notifying first responders such as community policing forums and alarm companies of the victim’s location which will be obtained from the nearest cell tower. With the team revealing that police take over an hour to respond to a crime 42% of the time, the aim is to start getting help even before a crime has been committed.

As with SmartWare, the winning team in Jo’burg will walk away with R25,000, the runner up will receive R15,000 and there will be R5,000 in spot prizes up for grabs. What’s more, with implementation partner Silicon Cape being an ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups, the winner will be connected with accelerators, mentors and other relevant community members such as developers, angel investors and venture capitalists to help bring their solution to life. Amazon Web Services will also give the winning team access to the low cost, easy-to-use infrastructure needed to scale and grow via the AWS Activate programme which includes benefits like $10,000 worth of AWS Promotional Credits, valid for two years; AWS Business Support valued at $5,000 which is valid for up to one year and a solution architect technical whiteboarding session.

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