Innovation is not synonymous with technology, but rather, is inclusive of a wide range of human creativity that creates, restores, or sustains the public good.— New America Org
Where is the innovative solution for someone who says, “I can’t walk down the street without feeling unsafe and targeted,”? Where is the tech for someone suffering from a mental health issue with no help or money? Where is a technical solution for the systemic oppression of minorities, low-income individuals, the uneducated, etc.? Having worked in tech the past 4 years, the technology does exist, but instead of being used to create safer societies, it’s being used to hail rides, save files, share photos, order food, and deliver cupcakes. Unimpressed, I wondered what impact could be made if tech creators shifted their focus from tech-first, to people-first, and built with vulnerable communities in mind. What if we could partner with local organizations in different cities to come together and build with and for the community, in a safe, accessible setting that’s inclusive of everybody and prioritizes racial justice?
In July of 2016, the vision to reboot safety came to life when I hosted a civic hackathon in San Francisco that focused on public safety. With a specific focus on police violence, a diverse group of thinkers, engineers, city planners, writers, lawyers, and community members showed up to talk about race, break down factors contributing to police violence against the Black community, and build solutions to prevent and combat violence. At the end of the weekend we had 2 complete products and one went on to gain nationwide attention. Knowing that the impact potential here is infinite, I helped launch Reboot Safety. With this organization, I’m dedicated to empowering individuals to create the change they need, and can continue organizing civic hackathons, aka Reboots.
In September of 2016 Reboot Safety partnered with Lesbians Who Tech to host a 1-day Reboot in New York City. Together, we spent the day researching data for a project titled Follow The Money, which collects and visualizes city-specific municipal revenue gained from policing, court fees, fines, and forfeitures along with a demographic breakdown of the city’s population. This project exposed gaps in US government data and showed inconsistencies in the reporting. If the data that shows how much revenue coming from policing isn’t standardized or required, then how can a city assess budget needs for public safety responders? With additional funding I plan on making this project open-source to raise awareness about the missing data and empower citizens to require this information from their police and local government. I am also partnering with organizations interested in co-creating and amplifying these efforts.
I started working on Reboot Safety four months ago and since then we have:
- Partnered with 8 organizations already committed to racial justice.
- Organized Reboots in 4 different cities
- Launched 10 products that support public safety, including:
- BuyBlack: a Chrome extension providing black-owned alternatives to popular online shopping sites to funnel dollars to the black economy, building financial safety
- cARe: a mixed reality project imagining Year 2030 mental health support through real-time crisis evaluation and coaching of bystanders
- Momentum: a marketplace where causes and supporters can collaborate on micro-actions that advance their missions
- Oakland Teen: a narrative game sparking empathy: a day in the life of an Oakland teenager
In 2017, Reboot Safety has committed to holding a minimum of six Reboots; we have already scheduled four of them. With funding, I can devote my energies to design partnerships to create an empathy-driven design model that’s scalable, repeatable, and easily adopted and design templates based off of previous Reboots for prototyping ideas. Reboot Safety will also be partnering with journalists and experts to share findings from Reboot Safety with the public. I’m connecting with venture capitalists and tech accelerators for ongoing financial support for projects created at Reboots alongside the technical and one-on-one mentoring we provide.
Fundraising for Reboot Safety provides an opportunity to deepen the impact of my work by increasing my capacity to serve, establish partnerships, and influence public discourse and action at the intersection of technology and racial justice. It’s through this work that I can challenge the current thinking around vulnerable communities and show invested parties that not only does this ‘people-first’ ideology work, but it’s proven.
If you’re at all interested in what we’re doing or have done or will do, please consider donating whatever you can to help make Reboot Safety more impactful than it already is. And if you’d like to get involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
*this post was originally published on Medium.