Indiana State University Newsroom



New app provides tools for responding to sexual violence

August 19, 2015

Following up on last week's launch of "It's on Blue," a new initiative aimed at preventing sexual assault, Indiana State University has unveiled a smartphone app to guide students in responding to an assault, should one occur.

Jared Wuerzburger's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience project course developed several apps over the summer, including the "It's On Blue" app, which the class describes as a preventative and informative resource.

According to Wuerzburger, an instructor in electronic and computer engineering technology, the app breaks down into nine different sections: What to do, how to report to police, how to report to ISU directly, confidential assistance, safety tips, consent, responsible employees, Terre Haute resources and campus-only resources.

Since the information is specific to the university, students can get clear, relevant information on the services and courses of action available to them.

"A lot of the information on the app is ... phone numbers here within the ISU community as well as in the Terre Haute community," explained Jacob Gregory, one of the students who helped build the application. "There are phone numbers that you can call, hotlines, even direct people you can get in contact with. It provides offices and addresses that you can go to, and it also provides just sort of generic information as far as consent and general guidelines that you should follow and know, hey, ‘this is where things border'."

The project began when Aimee Janssen-Robinson, assistant dean of students for student advocacy, approached Syc Creations, the video and graphic production arm of student media, to build the app, and Director Chad Clark passed it on to Wuerzburger and his students. The class did much of its work under Thomas Steiger, director of student research and creativity, whom Wuerzburger met through Edie Wittenmyer, a fellow electronics and computer technology faculty member. Funding for the project came from the university general counsel's office.

The app was rigorously tested and approved by various departments before its completion.

"It was kind of a giant union between general counsel, Syc Creations, the electronics and computer engineering department, and the technology department," said Wuerzburger.

"The ‘It's on Blue' app is great tool that students, or anyone in the campus community can use in the event they experience an assault or unwanted sexual contact," said Janssen-Robinson, now the university's director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator. "Student developers in the College of Technology can be proud of what they have produced but it is primarily for responding to an incident. Being educated about consent and assault and serving as active bystanders are crucial to prevention."

The team of app developers-scholarship students Gregory, Michael Eilbracht, Garth Norris, Daniela Berlado and Lincoln Johnny Cinto, and volunteers Femi David and Xavier Saunders-had 10 weeks to complete all of their projects. The "It's on Blue" app was given three to four weeks, with the android and iOS application taking 25 days.

"Every member of the team is extremely talented," said Wuerzburger. "They all have their own different segments and grooves they all fit in on the project-‘I'm going to do this, because this is what I'm best at' or ‘I'm going to do this because I know more.'"

The group was also able to overcome a variety of challenges in the process. International student Daniela Berlado of Brazil, a junior information technology major, said the most difficult part was developing the iPhone version.

"In the beginning, we were told that we should just do the android version," said Berlado, "then in the middle of the process they asked if we could do an iOS version, so we actually had to learn how to do it because we didn't know."

They also had to modify the application to work on tablets that do not have dialing capabilities, as the phone version features "hot buttons", which allow users to instantly call a number by touching an image, which may be useful in cases of impairment. The tablets used for testing are three years old-a century in tech-time.

The "It's on BLUE" app is available for download for Android, iOS, and non-dialing tablets. The remaining team-members are preparing for a fall presentation on the app so the university can inform students on the resource and encourage them to download it. Members of the group who developed the app say they are "close-knit" and plan to keep in touch.

Berlado wants to be a professor when she graduates, and Norris does support groups for veterans. He wants to use his IT and computer science skills to aid Veterans Affairs. Norris, a junior CS/IT student, says the issue of the app "hit a little close to home" and his insight helped to shape the project.

Wuerzburger is happy with the outcome and skills the students learned in the duration of the project, which not only included the practice of software-building, but the critical skills that aid in meeting deadlines and the ability to comply with the wishes of clients, which in this case included a long chain of command.

In conjunction with the app, Syc Creations produced an informational video that addresses the issue of consensual sex. Wuerzburger's and Clark's student organizations have collaborated on other projects before the "It's On Blue" effort. Based on that work history and the perceived real world needs and student learning opportunities, the two are working with ISU leadership to create a Center for Innovation in Technology and Digital Media, "so that projects like this, we would be able to do for anyone on campus if this center is funded. All they would have to do is ask."

Wuerzburger said the projects give students real-world work experience before they graduate.

"Anyone on who is willing to provide us with work can contact me," he said.

The app is available at:

ANDROID: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_indstate_dev.ISUtest1

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/itsonblue/id1022023342?ls=1&mt=8

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Image: http://www.smugmug.com/photos/i-kBzD2jP/0/X3/i-kBzD2jP-X3.png

Photo: https://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Technology/Its-on-Us-app/i-qpT6QMf/0/XL/untitled-1669-XL.jpg - Jared Wuerzburger (second from left), instructor of electronic and computer engineering technology, poses with student app developers (left to right) Jacob Gregory, Lincoln Johnny Cinto, Daniela Berlado and Garth Norris. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Photo: https://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Technology/Its-on-Us-app/i-KpSQZHB/0/X3/07_29_15_its_on_us_app-1194-X3.jpg - Indiana State University student Daniela Berlado shows off the smartphone app she and fellow electronic and computer technology students designed to provide resources for responding to sexual assault. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Aimee Janssen-Robinson, director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator, Indiana State University, aimee-janssen-robinson@indstate.edu; Jared Wuerzburger, instructor, electronic and computer technology, College of Technology, Indiana State University, jared.wuerzburger@indstate.edu

Writer: Kristen Kilker, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773 or kkilker1@sycamores.indstate.edu

 

 

 

Story Highlights

Following up on last week's launch of "It's on Blue," a new initiative aimed at preventing sexual violence, Indiana State University has unveiled a smartphone app to guide students in responding to an assault, should one occur.

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