Coding for women’s safety

Mae Sevick
April 29, 2015

What do you get when you take two driven young women, an international hackathon with 10,000 participants, and a weekend of hard work with nothing to lose? For Krista Krebs, Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology senior, and her friend and collaborative partner, Apoorva Tyagi, a 13th place finish among thousands of teams -- but more importantly, an android app that could help keep women safe. 

“AngelAlert,” a powerful app with a clean and effective interface, tackles sexual assault and personal safety by sharing the user’s location with up to four trusted contacts. Krebs and Tyagi created the app for the HackerEarth International Women's Day Hackathon. The three-day event of “non-stop coding,” which took place March 6-8, is dedicated to engaging and supporting women in technology, a historically underrepresented group in the information sciences field. 

The women who participated in the historic hackathon had the choice of entering the competition under one of four themes: productivity; fun/gamification; multi-channel retail; and Krebs’ and Tyagi’s selection: social welfare. 

AngelAlert works with nothing more than the tap of a button. If the app’s user feels in danger, she presses a single button docked on her home screen, and her pre-programed contacts are alerted to her physical location via text message. 

“Assault, especially against women, is all-too prevalent across the world, from India to the United States,” says Krebs. “Apoorva and I were inspired by the event itself to create a tool for women -- something that could be used to help keep women safe in their communities.” 

“We went back to the basics and thought about the No. 1 thing someone would want to do when they feel unsafe: reach out to someone they trust and tell them where they are as quickly as possible,” added Tyagi. 

Although AngelAlert was conceived with women in mind, the ingenious simplicity of the app’s design makes it a powerful tool for any who may feel threatened. The practical applications for a tool like AngelAlert are vast, and something that could be used not only by women in cases of sexual assault, but by anyone who feels potentially unsafe. 

“We are working to improve AngelAlert to be released later this year,” says Tyagi. “We want to ensure the experience of alerting people you trust with your location is simple, efficient, and effective.” 

For Krebs, the 13th place finish is something she never expected. When she recalls learning of AngelAlert’s success, she breaks into a smile. 

“It was a special opportunity. To participate in an event like this that brings together women hackers from all across the world -- and during the weekend of International Women’s Day -- it’s unprecedented,” Krebs said. “And to have success with an app that could help keep women safe feels especially rewarding.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 29, 2015