A new hackathon launching next week is set to take on the battle against domestic violence, specifically against women. The three-day hackathon will host participants from Israel’s tech ecosystem who will offer solutions, create initiatives, and help raise awareness about domestic abuse.
Over 50 teams with more than 800 participants have registered their ideas so far. They include monitoring social media to predict and detect abusive behavior, developing software that alerts emergency contacts and authorities without being detected by the abuser, using voice recognition software to detect danger or an emergency situation, and establishing a platform to allow for anonymous survivor stories to be heard.
The event is being held in memory of Michal Sela, a 32-year-old mother of an infant girl who was murdered by her husband and the father of their child in their Jerusalem home last October. Following the murder, Sela’s sister founded the Michal Sela Forum (Hebrew) “with the goal of saving the next murder victim through creative ‘out of the box’ thinking and the use of advanced technologies in time of crisis as well as in prevention and raising awareness to warning signals.”
The Michal Sela Forum partnered with the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for the event. Tech partners also include Wix, Microsoft Israel, Facebook, Mobileye, Intel, and Amdocs, per the event page.
The hackathon identifies six “challenge areas” with participants asked to offer ideas and solutions. These include raising awareness about what an abusive relationship looks like, collecting data from survivors or families of victims to learn about patterns and behavior that can be used by authorities, preventing digital abuse where victims can be tracked and recorded with surveillance apps, enabling victims to look for information without leaving a digital trace, and developing reliable safety apps.
The winning venture from the hackathon will exhibit for a month at the Peres Center’s Israeli Innovation Expo, which showcases groundbreaking Israeli developments to more than 100,000 international visitors a year including delegations from multinational corporations and visiting governments.
The top three finalists will take part in a special mentorship program, including with Chemi Peres, son of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres, chairman of the board of the Peres Center, and co-founder of the Israeli VC firm Pitango. Top solutions will also be considered for further funding and support by the Michal Sela Forum.
The hackathon begins next Monday, May 18, and the final event will be held at the President’s Residence on May 20.
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“The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation has continued to work in the spirit of the late Shimon Peres to advance the values of tolerance and equality through the promotion of groundbreaking innovations for a better future and a more tolerant and more inclusive society,” said Efrat Duvdevani, director of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and a judge on the hackathon panel.
“We are proud to honor the memory of the late Michal Sela by bringing together the brightest minds of the ‘Start-Up Nation’ to develop an innovative solution that addresses the difficult issue of violence against women,” she added.
According to an Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) report cited by i24 News, 68,000 women were victims of domestic violence or were subjected to threats of violence in 2018. A report (Hebrew) published last year by the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry showed that in 2018, 6,488 women sought assistance with 113 shelters across the country. The ministry also noted an increase of 160 percent of calls to women’s hotlines between 2014 and 2018.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article mistakenly indicated that the Peres Center was hosting the hackathon. The event is being launched by the Michal Sela Forum in collaboration with the Peres Center as well as additional partners.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or violence, you can call (or text) one of these hotlines for support and information: dial 118 or text 055-700-0128 for the national hotline for reporting domestic abuse; 1-800-220000 for the WIZO nationwide emergency hotline; 1202 for the women’s hotline nationwide or 04-6566813 for the women’s hotline in Arabic; 1-800-292-333 or 972-2-633-8927 for the Bat Melech Hotline for Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox women.