operation safeword

So, I keep going back and forth as to whether this would be a good idea. I think I’ve talked about it before. But it would be technically feasible to add a device similar to Amazon Echo to every dorm room and frat house. The idea would be to create a ‘safeword’ – something that would almost never false positive – that would call 911 and give the location of the device and audio clips from it.

The downside is it’s surveillance, and it would also probably get abused by government which would then insist the devices could be used for monitoring. The upside is that it could vastly cut down on things like campus rape. I can’t decide if it’s a good idea or not. But watching The Hunting Ground makes it seem like it might be.

It does occur to me that there could be a easy opt-in system.. a app you’d install on your mobile phone that listens for a word and calls 911. It’d be power-hungry, you’d only activate it when going into a situation where you knew there was danger.. but it’d be useful. You could also have it call 911 if you *didn’t* say a certain word every N minutes, if you were concerned about date rape drugs, or if someone tried to disable it without disarming it first.

With a *lot* of CPU power (more than a phone likely has, you’d have to stream it to a more powerful computer), you could add voice detection so the app would know whether it was hearing your voice or not.. You could also add a monitoring center, like high end alarm systems, so rather than calling 911 you’d pay a monthly fee to have someone listen in and determine if the situation was all right. Groups of friends going to the same party could all register with it, or it could use GPS coordinates, so the monitoring system could do things like sending a message ‘Amy might be in trouble, we haven’t heard her voice in 20 minutes and she didn’t give the signoff / all clear word’

The other difficult thing would be getting people to know and understand that college campuses are dangerous places.

I also think encouraging the idea of affirmative/positive consent would be a good thing.

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