Introduction: My app, RealHelp, is available in the iTunes App Store. You can downloadid it right here: As of now, a major upgrade just gained approval. We've got another upgrade to adapt it to iOS 5 coming in soon, and a 100% free Receiver app on the way. We're willing to tweak it to make it a more effective tool, so please ask if there’s anything more you’d like. We're especially flexible on the resources. We’re planning to make continuous improvements. What it does:  The RealHelp App operates on the principal that date rapes and sexual assault will be far less likely to happen if the potential victim's friends know what's happening and have the ability to intervene. We built the app to broadcast audio and a person's location to dozens of pre-specified contacts in real time. It will also send pictures, and opens up a chat session so that everyone who has the app can coordinate. Everyone who is notified will have a link to a recorded session of the incident afterward, so no matter what, there are now a lot more people involved. We're hoping that sharing the situation with several dozen friends will put any would be assailant onto his/her best behavior and let the victim speak up with the knowledge that his/her friends are listening and know where he/she is. Hopefully the witnesses and saved session will also keep things from devolving into a "he said, she said" argument.  You can see a saved session that I created right here: Please pardon the terrible picture of me. It is not flattering.How it gets people involved immediately:  Recipients who have either the free or paid version of the app will get an immediate push notification, and be pulled into a session on the app on their phones. Those recipients will also get a backup link sent to their email addresses. We can also send it to email addresses, if the recipient doesn't or can't install the app. What's better, the new version allows the user to sign on with a Facebook login and pull emergency contacts from their friend list. They can then choose to send private messages if the user has an email address set up, or post to their friend's wall. The wall posting is more public than we'd like but the default link authenticates that the person clicking through is indeed on the sender's emergency contact list, so everyone can see that there is an alert posted on the wall, but only those on the emergency contact list can click through and view the alert. Of course, we allow the user to turn off authentication and make alerts 100% public if they prefer the greater exposure. We set this up this way because it allows the user to reach vastly more people and instantly. Since most smartphone users have the Facebook app installed on their phones, they'll get immediate push notifications when they receive a private message or someone posts to their walls. It's almost as good as having them download the free app. Beyond smart phone users, there's always someone you know on Facebook.  We're hoping that all of this instant connectivity makes triggering a RealHelp alert worth fighting for. Unlike a phone call or text message where the recipient might not pick up, you're reaching a lot of people so the chance that someone can act immediately dramatically increases. They've also got everything that they need to respond. Even if you're cut off quickly. They likely now have your location, and they know you're in trouble. There's no way that anyone can force you to take that back.  Why no text messaging? Text messaging from an app is expensive and higher costs mean rationing how many people can receive them. Also, alert URLs sent to people without smart phones aren't really helpful. We may add an option in the future, but it will be a costly option even if we add it at cost, and we don't expect a lot of people to use it.Safe Call:  We also built in a feature where you can set an Orange Alert to go off at a specified time unless you turn it off. That means that it contacts everyone on your Orange Alert list, and broadcasts audio and location to them. So long as the app is running in the background of your phone it can trigger from a locked phone. That way, if you should have been home by a certain time, but are somehow incapacitated and can't get to your phone, your friends can come get you.Discretion and Security:  To be honest, we hope that RealHelp empowers would-be victims to not be discreet. The problem with acquaintance rape is that it's discreet. Nobody else knows what exactly is happening, and the details are disputed. That discretion usually benefits the assailant, and makes it hard for victims to stand up for themselves. We want the touch of a button to destroy the discretion that protects the assailant, and ends the prospect that he might not be held accountable for his actions. Preferably, we'd like the would-be assailant to realize the gravity of the situation, and steer clear of committing a sexual assault. That aside, we did take security seriously.  The first line of defense is that the user can exit the app and lock their phone, and the app will continue to broadcast audio and the location without showing any outward evidence of doing anything. If the assailant grabs the phone, and can see that the app is running we make it a point that the app has a broadcast that says "Broadcasting Audio and Location to XX friends" so that the assailant knows that everything he says is on record. If he tries to close the session he'll be asked for a secret code. Every time the wrong secret code is entered, everyone will be notified. Any threats to try to get the code will be heard by the listeners. If the app is exited to the background it will keep going. If it's turned off or the phone is disabled, the alert will persist on the server as open for two hours, so everyone will know that the person is still in trouble.  In order to make users more comfortable setting off alerts we have three levels of alerts, so they have alerts they can use in milder situations, and hence decrease hesitation. They can also specify which contact gets what alerts. So you can add your parents to your emergency contact list and then set it so that they don't get low level alerts, but do get red alerts. You can set it up so that when you trigger an alert, only the people you want to get it do get it.  One issue that we haven't addressed is Domestic and Partner Violence. For acquaintance rape and other sexual assault scenario it should be very effective, and it could be effective in exposing domestic violence, but we believe that the best we could do to make it safe for DV victims is to not have it made expressly for them. We left off domestic violence resources intentionally because we felt that they put DV users at risk, and that they've already got a smart phone with access to the internet. So they're a click away from all of those resources. We do have sexual assault resources and links to RAINN in the resources. We can add DV resources if requested (Seriously, just tell us what you want and we can add them in a few days. If you think that it’s better to have them we’ll defer to your judgement.). We don't feel that we can make it a disguised app because that runs counter to the mission of getting it widespread on college campuses and spread awareness of what you're supposed to do if you get an alert. If you disagree we're glad to tweak it so long as it doesn't make it less effective.Changing Culture:  Since I started work on this app, we've wanted to seriously impact the number of campus sexual assaults. We know that we can't save everyone in every situation but a 1% reduction means thousands of lives changed. If one person is saved from what would have been a date rape, that impacts dozens of friends for whom date rape was previously an abstract concept. Just having the app, and adding people as emergency contacts sparks discussion. We want people who are added as emergency contacts to get the free receiver app and identify themselves as the kind of people who would help others in an emergency. We think that wide adoption of RealHelp as a tool to prevent sexual violence will make that sexual violence more real and personal for a wider swathe of society. Hopefully that greater awareness heads sexual assaults off in the first place.My Goal:  I want RealHelp to be a tool that allows people to cry out for help loud enough that all the people that they want to hear can respond. I want crimes that would have happened because the victims were alone and vulnerable to be headed off by fixing the alone and vulnerable part. I want people who were victims to not have to worry about whether or not people will believe them. I want people who are thinking "I don't like the way that this is going." to have a clear way out. I want people who might have committed acquaintance rape to think, "How would this look if her friends were listening in?", even when they're not.Notes on availability and pricing:Depending on what update gets approved when, and when you download the app, you may get the Facebook enabled version and you may get the iOS 5 optimized version. If it costs $9.99, we're planning to change that to free for the duration of the contest, so please check back in a day and it should be free.  We'll also be launching an app called RealHelp Receiver, which will always be free. It's made so friends and family can respond quickly and effectively to RealHelp alerts.  We don't know if the RealHelp Receiver will meet your requirements for the app being free for a year. If not, I am willing to make the fully powered app free for the year. We can work with your requirements. Our plan was to charge $9.99 a year for the paid version. At that price, several tens of thousands of paid users would allow us to cover our server costs, keep the app up to date, make improvements, and make RealHelp self sustaining.  Currently it's only available for the iPhone. Once were happy with the iPhone version we'll port it over to Android, which will probably be by the end of 2011. If we can get an active user base, we'll move it to the Windows phone.A Final Note:  Thanks for creating this contest. It gave me the inspiration to make a lot of improvements to the RealHelp app to make it better than ever. We’ve tried to make it as perfect as possible, and that’s the reason that we’re submitting it today. Ever since I read about the contest we’ve been working hard. We hope that with your help that we can deeply reduce the number of sexual assaults. If anything needs clarification, or you'd like something added to the app, please contact me. You can call me any time at (949)226-1539 or email me at

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