Hack to the (safer) future!
In cities the world over, women live in daily fear of violence. But in these same cities innovation thrives, and residents have the power to make them safer for women and girls. Our idea is to hold city-based ‘hack days’ in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, inviting communities, partners and technology experts to discuss the main threats to women and girls’ safety, and create practical solutions.
The people attending the hack day will bring their experience of the city and knowledge of how citizens use technology, engage with media, and use support networks. This is not just about getting technical experts in - but about getting women and men together, to create people-powered solutions based on their experience of public spaces.
Provide a short description of your idea
Our idea is a social enterprise. It tackles the problem of urban poor communities being disconnected from the technical experts that can help them develop the tools and technologies they need in order to make cities safe for women. It addresses the problem by directly connecting the women who experience the fear of violence daily with various experts who are committed to applying their expertise to developing the solutions. It fuses together the experience of women living in cities with the technical, communications and advocacy knowledge of the organisations and companies invited. The implementation process would be well supported within the context of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid and its partners are launching in 17 countries over the next year, with ongoing energy and resource dedicated to make cities safe for women and girls. ActionAid and it's partners have a lot of experience testing new, participatory ways of working, in order to enable our supporters and the people we work with.
Get a user's perspective on your idea.
Please see a user experience map here: http://act.ai/hackdayuserexp
Our primary target audience is women living in poverty in cities (specifically in Rio, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Phnom Penh). We would reach out particularly to young women, as key agents of change in communities.
Other target audiences include our partners, NGOs and activist groups interested in making cities safe for women. We would invite speakers from the women’s rights movement and people who have championed technological solutions for development (and women’s rights), as well as technology communities, companies and networks to join us and enable or develop ideas that are technology-enabled. We would ensure there were policy and campaigns experts attending that would provide knowledge of how to influence change.
This idea works because it directly connects the women who experience the fear of violence daily with various experts who are committed to applying their expertise to developing the solutions. It fuses together the experience of women living in cities with the technical, communications and advocacy knowledge of the organisations and companies invited. The implementation process would be well supported within the context of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid and its partners are launching in 17 countries over the next year, with ongoing energy and resource dedicated to make cities safe for women and girls. ActionAid and it's partners have a lot of experience testing new, participatory ways of working, in order to enable our supporters and the people we work with.
Show us what implementation might look like.
We would identify one or maybe two solutions to implement from each hack day, along with the hack day attendees. We would allocate a set amount of budget per city to support the implementation of these solutions or ideas. Working out the required budget would be part of each hack day (one in Rio, Dhaka, Phnom Penh and Kathmandu). The technology companies and communications organisations that attended the hack day would have a more long-term involvement with the Hack Days than just attendance on the day; they would be asked to support the build and development of a chosen solution, contributing their expertise and resource. We would also look at the other key requirements for implementation. For example, if it required government lobbying of some kind, then we would support the women to campaign and advocate for that solution to have government support.
The implementation plan will vary in different cities. For example, in Rio, the Hack Day team would also engage with the government on the hack days, inviting local/state government and public services managers, and they will look for a partnership with the government to commit with the resulting product.
The hack days are part of the Safe Cities campaign that ActionAid is launching in 17 countries over the next year, and we would work with our partnering NGOs, activist networks and supporters to sustain communication and engagement with the women that attended the hack days in order to successfully implement solutions. We would create a core project team from each hack day, allowing women to choose their level of ongoing involvement in the product. The hack days would be a core milestone for the campaign, placing supporters and also technology as an enabler (ICT4D) at the heart of the campaign.
We are fully resourced and able to carry through the hack days from crowdsourcing and designing solutions with attendees, to implementation. We have tested various technology-enabled mobilisations and projects within ActionAid, which we have learnings from. We co-create and develop all of our international campaigns across multiple country offices with constant brainstorming and creative workshopping to produce the best solutions to the problems thrown up by campaigning across so many different contexts. We run participatory e-learning course online e.g. webinars, as well as discussion and Campaign Project Team groups on Facebook, including a group that focuses on using technology to support activism. We have set up and tested mobilising people using SMS in over 7 countries, and run actions such as #taxpaysfor (http://taxpaysfor.tumblr/ shows all the images posted to Twitter and Instagram)) to engage activists and lobby governments. We are setting up IVR system in Cambodia, working with local technology groups.
Our youth network, Activista, is constantly working in a participatory manner to build digital skills within the network, and support ‘step down’ trainings in communities (where the Activistas share their skills and teach others). We have tested ideas like voxpops here: http://www.actionaid.org/iwd2014 and blogger training programmes like the blogger swarm: http://www.actionaid.org/activista/swarm as well as supporting women living in Kenya to document through video the effects of a toxic dumpsite in the middle of their community, using the footage as evidence to lobby decision-makers and also look at collective solutions http://www.actionaid.org/2013/01/dumping-colorado
The successes from these ways of working are that our supporters and Activists cocreate our campaign actions with us. These campaigns are up and running and reflect their diverse and creative inputs. Building the capacity of our activists means that they are well places to create and run their own initiatives such as lobbying the African finance minister’s meeting via Twitter, SMS and email actions: http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2014/03/4-actions-stop-tax-leaking-out-africa The challenges are that sometimes people's situations are simply different and it's necessary to fork the solutions down different routes to ensure best fit for multiple communities. This is why we believe the hack days are an excellent proposal, as they take different contexts into account, crowdsourcing the most relevant solutions from women, at city level.
Holding a ‘
hack day’ is an effective, communal and enjoyable way to solve problems. They are typically popular with technical geeks that get together and build applications, tools and websites, but the word ‘hack’ is also used to mean more broadly ‘find a solution’ or innovate.
This illustrates what a hack day can look like.
We want to apply the term hack day in a brand new way, as we believe hack days have huge potential to create practical solutions for women and girls living and working in cities. We would invite women, men, leaders, organisations and activists, bringing them together with technology providers and communication organisations, to identify the key challenges and potential solutions to women and girls’ safety in a city.
The beauty of this concept is that it would happen at city levels, involving local citizens. We want to put women, especially those who experience the violence or the fear of violence on a daily basis, at the front of how we create Safe Cities for women and girls; to give them a platform and direct access to technology experts in order to discuss issues and conceptualise solutions, inspiring and supporting one another in a shared vision.
Co-creating solutions with different community members, organisations and technology providers is the ideal way to ensure that we make the most of a city’s connections, facilities, expertise and experience. A ‘one size fits all’ international phone application or mechanism doesn’t take into account the diversity of issues and access to technology in different cities. City-based hack days would bring people people’s skills and experiences in an incredibly powerful and effective way. We can connect the hack days at an international level, ensuring that learning is shared across countries - using social media and web-based platforms, but also via SMS and community meetings, working with partners, communities and organisations in those countries.
We would allocate a set amount of budget per city to support the implementation of the suggested solutions or ideas that come out of these days. An example idea could be to build a kiosk at a major train station for women to complain, and receive a number to check the response from the government (which could be accessed through mobile, email or by visiting a webpage). Or it could be building an SMS or IVR (interactive voice response) based reporting system to record information on certain bus routes. We would collect the names and contact details of the people who attend, in order to build a movement and provide support and training to lobby for project funding or implementation if needed, as well as build a long term, sustainable campaign for Safe Cities for women and girls. Younger participants may benefit from joining our youth network
Activista, and all participants could benefit from the training resources provided by our
Global Platforms as well as our online capacity building materials.
Explain your idea in one sentence.
Our idea is to hold four ‘hack days’, one in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka respectively, bringing together communities, civil society organisations, technology companies and communications organisations to discuss how the use of mobile and web-based technologies can alleviate the main threats to women and girls’ safety in urban public spaces, and create and implement practical, technology enabled solutions.
What is the need you are trying to solve?
The need to link up urban poor communities with technology companies and communications organisations that are able and keen to develop tools and technologies that support women’s rights work, in order to create the most innovative, relevant and practical solutions to make cities safe for women and girls.
This concept will empower people to make their city’s public spaces safe for women and girls, connecting them with the budget and technical resource to turn their experiences and collective vision into real-world results. It will also give technical experts, companies and organisations the chance to work on innovative humanitarian projects.
Each city is different - a blanket solution for stopping violence against women in public spaces worldwide is not practical. People should have ownership over their cities and the spaces they live in, and this project will enable them to identify the major problems and create the solutions with their technical experts, together.
Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?
The people attending the hack days will be given the facilities and space to spend a day together, with activists and technology providers in their city, to share experiences, learn from each other and build constructive ideas for resolving issues in their city. The result will benefit the broader community of people living in the city, as the solutions and products that result from the hack days will be about creating safe cities for women and girls.
We would invite the women who live in poverty in the cities to contribute their ideas and knowledge, shaping any projects with their insights. We would reach out particularly to young women, as key agents of change in communities. We would invite speakers from the women’s rights movement and people who have championed technological solutions for development (and women’s rights), as well as technology communities, companies and networks to join us and enable or develop ideas that are technology-enabled. We would ensure there were policy and campaigns experts attending that would provide knowledge of how to influence change, for example taking any crowdsourced data in order to produce scorecards for city authorities/governing bodies/influencers to consider - this would be part of any project developed.
We would measure success by: The number of women that attend, the number of young women that attend, the number of external organisations that attend, participant feedback throughout and after the event, whether practical solutions were conceptualised, whether partners and supporting organisations/companies or authorities picked up on the ideas and support implementation, how successfully the events are picked up and amplified online (e.g. retweets, shares, blog articles, etc.), the number of women that sign up to getting involved in future campaigning activities and events,
Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?
ActionAid is launching its Safe Cities for Women and Girls campaign in 17 countries over the next year, with our partners in national coalitions. We are therefore best placed to implement this idea, together with our partners and supporters.
Where should this idea be implemented?
We would implement hack days in in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, as our staff and coalition partners that live and work in those cities have elected themselves as keen to run this project. We could then roll out hack days with other countries that wish to join in with the Safe Cities campaign.
How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?
We would run the hack day in Rio first of all as a pilot. ActionAid Brazil and partners are keen to develop a product that will have two focuses. It will open a channel of communication between government and civil society, and work as an accountability tool, to look into the responses and actions taken by duty bearers toward women and girls in cities, and evaluate them.
We would test: whether a good number of women, young women and other organisations attended, and whether our outreach methods worked (for engaging people in communities); whether the participants found it worthwhile, inspiring and constructive; whether there were any key elements ‘missing’ from the plan, such as facilitation, experts, outreach, or support; whether feasible, practical solutions resulted from the day’s discussions and brainstorms and concept development sessions.
We would then revise our plans as necessary in order to maximise the success of the hack days in other countries.
What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?
Women and girls that live in Rio, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh and Dhaka, where we would hold our ‘hack days’, would benefit strongly from this project, especially as the focus is problem solving women’s safety in urban environments.
For example, women that live in Rio, from the poorer communities that ActionAid and our partners work with, would lead on identifying which problems to focus on, and evaluating the solutions. They would connect with other women, technology and communications companies and networks, as well as informal groups (and CSOs) working on complementary projects.
These days would bring together stakeholders with different experiences and skills, and empower the women and girls involved to inform and design solutions with experts that can create them. This will inspire confidence in the power to connect and create change, engendering and strengthening communities’ confidence in their own power to solve big issues, a space usually reserved for official bodies.
Women and girls will therefore directly benefit from both the process and solutions that are implemented from these hack days. The solutions will be designed by them, for them, to make their cities safer places to live and work in.
Please see user experience map here: http://act.ai/hackdayuserexp