The idea originated from the insight of team founder Sofie Wahlström that there is no way to contact 112, Swedish SOS without calling. SOS is now receiving about 500.000 “pocket dials” every year, just in Sweden. There is almost no way of telling if the call came from a victim or a pocket dial.
The public sector and non-profits struggle to distribute and allocate funds between organizations. From working in the public sector, Sofie has experienced first hand the problem of municipalities and authorities being locked into the siloed architecture of the organization. It is almost impossible today for the organizations to cooperate to help an individual, distribute personal journals, and to communicate securely between departments. Today many of the public sector authorities still use fax, because it is the only safe way to distribute personal data according to GDPR.
These two insights gave rise to BrightAct.
We believe in people's power to create impact. BrightAct wants to bridge the gap between organizations. We streamline and gather support for victims of domestic violence. We are a platform supplier for governments and NGO´s with apps for the social protection of the inhabitants.
What we learned
During these past months of extensive market research we have learned:
*“Every year, approximately 3,500 deaths related to intimate partner violence occur in the 27 member states (excluding Croatia) of the European Union alone, according to a study from the DAPHNE EU program.” * *
It is difficult to allocate data in other parts of the world and it is hard for scientists to do proper research on what's available. BrightAct wants to collect data for research to work preventatively.
*“Based on extensive analysis of available data, the Council of Europe has estimated that the cost of violence against women amounts to an annual total of at least 33 billion euros across the Council’s 47 member States, including the financial burden of intervention, policing, healthcare and other services.” **
*“Witnessing domestic violence and growing up in an environment where violence takes place has a harmful effect on children’s behavioral, emotional and mental health and increases the risk of children suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms, psychosomatic illnesses, attention deficit disorder, and low educational achievement.” **
The initial findings of an EU-wide survey of 42,000 women by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), due to be published in 2014, show that:
Four out of five women did not turn to any service, such as healthcare, social services, or victim support, following the most serious incidents of violence by people other than their partners. Women who sought help were most likely to turn to medical services. Two out of five women interviewed were unaware of laws or political initiatives in place to protect them in cases of domestic violence; half were not aware of any preventative laws or initiatives. Over three-quarters of women think violence against women is common in their country.
-About half of the women interviewed indicated that they had avoided public or private situations because they were afraid they might be physically or sexually assaulted*
The COVID-19 outbreak is estimated by the UN to severely damage the work done on gender equality if we don't take action now. The increase in violence is going up rapidly during isolation due to social, economic, and emotional stress. In France alone, violence increased by 30% from lockdown 17th of march. Shelters and non-profits struggle to respond to all distress calls. And now reports are coming in from the whole world that increased violence is a growing problem. UN Women is calling it a shadow pandemic with urgent action needed to save lives. **
How we built it
The BrightAct architecture is carefully crafted to be as cost-efficient, scalable, and secure as possible. We are aiming to deploy a fleet of microservices using Java backends running on Quarkus. These applications will be deployed as containers on both GCP's Knative offering as well as AWS ECS Fargate. To provide a decoupled and horizontally scalable architecture, we have decided to use the event collaboration pattern. Where microservices publish domain events on to Apache Kafka, and other services react and orchestrate their workflow based on that. All of our microservices will be plugged into our CI/CD pipelines to allow for as much automation as possible.
For this hackathon, our main focus has been the development of BrigthAct Chat. A feature to help victims of domestic violence always find guidance and help from support organizations. For this, we have developed a scalable WebSocket and apache kafka driven chat application which is deployed on AWS ECS Fargate. The chat application publishes and listens to messages from Kafka, and stores metrics and accumulated credits to DynamoDB.
We have approval from the Swedish Agency for Digital Government and the Swedish Minister for Energy and Digital Development, Anders Ygeman, praising our innovative approach to cooperation and for our advanced technology platform solving an actual need in society. On top of that, according to the EU Commission, Sweden has been named the EU innovation leader in 2020. The Global Innovation Index states Sweden as no 2 most innovative in the world. Sweden has a strong social model that we aim to scale globally. ***
The BrightAct Domestic Violence App
In the app we offer:
Chat -The victim can get support from non-profits and authorities to get personified advice and professional help. In the chat, we use tokens to pay the NGO´s to respond to the distress calls, to give them a more stable income depending on how much response they give to victims. The tokens can be used to buy features on the platform or to withdraw to pay for their expenses outside of the platform.
Branded Profile - Nonprofits and the public sector receive a customizable branded profile with information about their organization as well as secure access to the BrightAct chat.
Report Incidents -The victim can build strong legal cases in court and get access to the safe storage of important documentation in the cloud.
Legal Advice - The victim can chat with experienced lawyers connected to the database and learn about legal and juridical routines through easily understandable educational modules.
Micro-Learning - The victim can educate themselves about types of violence through gamified educational modules with content from trusted non-profits and authorities.
Questionnaires - Forms connected to gamified education with exercises created by researchers and psychologists to connect with feelings and for increased self-awareness.
The BrightAct Platform
Our platform helps the public sector and nonprofits come together to support the victims. A new unique solution to solve the problems with collaboration across borders and overlapping organizations.
Taking care of the need of statistics for research, and prevention strategies for the public sector. Building sustainable communities out of a scalable solution. This is a whole new way of working with the allocation of public resources and volunteer organizations together in one application. Everything gathered, as a safety net to fall into.
The BrightAct Cloud & Database
We have a reusable and modular architecture with open data. It is a mobile app for iPhone and Android. The app is built with security in mind, having a hidden entrance and end to end encryption. The app is built using Flutter in the dart, some kotlin, and some swift. There is a backend built in Java running in a container saving its data to an AWS-dynamodb instance. We are also offering a web interface to support cooperation. The app is GDPR compliant.
Potential Value to Non-Profits
Now it is more important than ever to digitalize and streamline the help that is given to the citizens of the world, with an increased need to address the issue of domestic violence on a global scale. Violence can happen to anyone, anywhere. This is one of many reasons we want to offer the chat system free of charge for the smaller support organizations, as many of them don't have the resources to buy a system. And at times have limited support from Governments and Authorities to provide needed resources.
We offer a scalable and easy to use product where the non-profits can allocate both funds and support the inhabitants, we add traction by gathering many organizations into one location. It is a great opportunity for smaller organizations to find the specific type of victims that their non-profit is capable of supporting and at the same time earning tokens for helping and answering distress messages.
We are also looking forward to being able to deliver a global support system, no matter where you are in the world. It will always be someone online able to support you. If the help in your country is offline, you can pick to chat with an organization in another country where the operator can write in your language or choose to write in English if that's not your first language.
Potential Value to Public Sector
We are collaborating with the Swedish government, county governments and help organizations to adjust the product to the market. As well as with Gävle University in Sweden for research.
For authorities, we have API and possibilities for users to **share documents with police and public prosecution authority. **This also makes it possible for the police to look for the occurrence of data in our database if someone is reported as missing to find a possible suspect.
Value of AWS
Amazon Web Services provides tremendous value for the vision of BrightAct. We are able to quickly provision our infrastructure using infrastructure-as-code and we will easily be able to scale out globally when the time arrives. All this without having to pay for any up-front infrastructure, compute or storage costs. Thus, we have maximum flexibility when developing and testing our environments, we can scale horizontally using serverless offerings so we only pay for the compute we actually need. AWS has during prior hackathons also endorser our cause and provided us with AWS credits to help us in building the BrightAct infrastructure, which has been of tremendous value.
- Sofie works within IT and innovation in municipalities and has direct insight into what is needed to push the public sector into the next steps of digitalization. She used to work with platform sales to municipalities and county governments before entering the public sector.
-Hassan brings insights from his senior role as a full-stack developer for big companies and complex architecture. Always humble and willing to test the boundaries of what we can create.
-Elinor with a solid background of UI and UX design for help organizations and psychological support apps have the perfect angle for seeing what the user needs and what we need to accomplish to fulfill the user's needs when it comes to design.
We also have 10 fantastic volunteers supporting us to reach help organizations globally as well as establishing key partnerships with scientists and universities when needed.
Together we are BrightAct.
Challenges we faced
For this challenge, we found out about the AWS Buildathon late in the submission period. We have done our best to continue our original development plan and as well as highlighting the Amazon features. We have received help from Amazon in Sweden to adjust AWS to our needs.
It is challenging to organize non-profits and authorities to work together. We are transforming processes to help victims in a new effective way. We already have many shelters and non-profits joining efforts to make streamlined collaboration happen. They assist us with testing and product development, to adjust the platform to their needs.
We find it challenging to understand how different legislations about storage and data privacy work in different countries. Here we had to contact legal advice for input on how to scale and operate globally. As a team, we have never met, just talked online and over the phone. This is challenging in many ways, but since the people are dedicated to finding a solution, things fall into place quite easily.
Accomplishments we are proud of
We are building a platform that can scale internationally, independent of legislation and legal demands. Since everything is built in an agile and modular way we can scale fast and big. We already started collaborations with Save the Children, Non-Violence Foundation, and are getting help from UN Women SF to get the app released in the U.S. It tells us a lot about the need for this app. We have gotten a lot of traction in a short amount of time. We have also gotten a lot of attention in Swedish media, and we can see the huge need for this platform and application globally.
We are delivering service, support, and possibilities to save lives. It needs to be seen, in what we do and what we say and how we act. With respect and a strong sense of community. Where differences are welcome and innovation is key.
Testimonials regarding BrightAct
"There is a dire need to stem the global pandemic of domestic violence. Bright Act offers a unique digital platform that both supports and increases the protection of the victims as well as services the societal institution's responsibility to act in the best interest of the victims".**
Rolf Skjoldebrand, Co-Founder, The Non-violence Project Foundation https://nonviolence.com/
**“This application is a new tool with life-saving qualities, for the victim in a discreet yet simple way to give them options that they only can dream about today. The app also gives them opportunities if or when the process turns into a police matter, and will, with do doubt lead to more verdicts against abusers. The documentation fills an enormous gap in the system today.
I never got healthcare, the violence was never documented and it was one person's word against another's. BrightAct fulfills a need of the individuals subjected to violence that I see a huge need for. Hundreds of women subjected to violence are contacting me to get help and support, the app would help them a lot. BrightAct is an initiative that has been needed for a long time and now, finally, is giving a solution to the people subjected to violence.”**
Izabelle Åman, BrightAct Ambassador, Author, and Survivor
What's next for BrightAct
We are piloting in Sweden right now, in the city of Helsingborg. To release the product to the market locally in Sweden after evaluation of the Swedish data protection agency. We want to release the app to the public within 4 weeks. After the release in Sweden, we are going to start collaborations and release the app in Germany. We are already in contact with around 50-60 potential public sector and NGO customers globally.
References: * link