In an age where it seems like our cell phones can do pretty much anything for us, it only makes sense that sexual assault awareness, prevention, and response work infiltrates the tech world as well. It seems like every day there is a new app created that is intended to combat sexual assault. Mobile applications are trendy. However, when developing Callisto, it became increasingly clear that a recording and reporting tool like Callisto needed to be a website and not an app. Here are some of the reasons why.

It is unlikely that students will preemptively download an app before an assault with the assumption that they will need it later.

Applications can only be used if they are downloaded onto the phone. Because the moments after an assault are highly traumatic for many survivors, it is not likely that students would find and download the app before recording what happened. Data from the Association of American Universities Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct showed that over 50% of students thought themselves not at all likely to be victims to sexual assault, which means that very few students would preemptively download the app with the expectation of needing to use it at a later date.

Downloading an app means having the icon and name on your phone where others can see it.

Survivors we spoke with during our formative research for Callisto were very cautious about protecting their status as a survivor until they were ready (if ever) to share with others. They were also very protective of their story through privacy locking documents or tearing up what they wrote. The fear of having someone discover this information was amplified by the idea of a mobile app.

Students are more likely to record details of an assault in the privacy of their apartment or dorm room, not out in public.

Through countless interviews with survivors, we discovered that detailing an assault would not be something that they would likely do on a bus, walking around campus, or at an event. Our formative research informed our decision to make Callisto something that would be most easily accessible in the privacy of someone’s own room.

Students need a centralized, easily accessible resource for all information around reporting information and options.

Based on the AAU Survey results, only about 25% of students are knowledgeable about where to make a report about sexual assault or sexual misconduct at their school. The school-specific Callisto site can be linked to directly on any already existing school website where students may go to find resources. This allows for easy navigation from sites students may already visit such as the counseling center, the campus police, or the Dean’s office so that information that may have previously been separate is now in one consistent location. Navigation between websites and phone apps isn’t as seamless as site to site.

Websites can be mobile optimized so that they can easily be used on cell phones and tablets.

Mobile applications are often not able to be used on computers. Callisto is mobile optimized and is easily navigated on all devices. It isn’t required for users to download something on to their phone to use Callisto on their phone. Because Callisto is a mobile-optimized website, it can do everything that a phone app could do along with much more.

None of these reasons are to say that mobile applications are not useful or beneficial. There are many great resources out there that are apps, and we support all of our partners in the work to combat sexual assault. For us, building a website and not an app was an important and intentional decision.

Are you going to be at ACPA or NASPA this March? Come visit Ashley & Kate to learn more about Callisto or go through a demo of the site! Email us at [email protected]

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