Using Technology to Prevent Violence

By Nancy Schwartzman, filmmaker, media strategist, and catalyst for social change

Nancy Schwartzman

I’ve always felt passionately about harnessing technology to prevent sexual violence. During my earliest days as an activist, I used (what was then cutting-edge!) google mapping technology to create “safer” routes for women walking home in Brooklyn. I started www.NYC-Safestreets.orgalmost 10 years ago before we had maps on our phones and before Apps hit the market.

Now the tools we carry with us every day, in pockets and purses, are sophisticated enough to really make a difference in our day-to-day lives. The Circle of 6 iPhone App evolved from candid conversations with students across the country while on tour with my documentary, “The Line“. From small town campuses to urban Ivy League colleges, we discuss how consent, dating culture, and rape affect their lives and what strategies have proven most effective in preventing violence. We know that college students today live on their mobile phones, and they move in tight-knit online and offline social networks. We devised Circle of 6 to be a tool that meets young people where they are, and offers concrete strategies for supporting each other in their daily lives, whether threats to their safety are coming from their intimate relationships or potentially dangerous social situations.

Circle of 6

Circle of 6 lets you choose six trusted friends to add to your circle. If you get into an uncomfortable or risky situation, use Circle of 6 to automatically send your circle a pre-programmed SMS alert message, with your exact location. It’s quick. It’s discreet. Two taps on your iPhone is all it takes.

Our current goal is to get Circle of 6 in the hands of 30,000 college students. Multiply that by everyone’s Circle of 6 friends, and we have 180,000 people committed to stopping violence in their communities before it happens.

The app will be available download by March 2012, at and find us on Facebook.


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