Thursday October 9, 2014

Extending a Helping App

Victims of crime in southwest Ohio will soon have access to an entire community of help in the palm of their hand.

Family Services of Dayton and the University of Dayton Research Institute have been awarded a one-year, $238,000 Vision 21 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop and market mobile-application technology to provide victims with ready access to service providers and other support resources. 

"Knowledge is one of the most powerful assets to victims of crime," said Bonnie Parish, executive director of Family Services. "This project will allow us to provide additional means to support people who are feeling vulnerable and need assistance, but don’t always know where to find it." 

The mobile application will allow users to quickly connect with local law enforcement, medical services, counselors, justice information and recourses, community resources and other professionals and organizations that can provide support to a victim after a crime. 

Using Vision 21 funding, Family Services will assess community needs, create a database of area resources, and work to make the public aware of the new technology and how to use it when it becomes available. The Research Institute will develop the mobile application technology. 

Parish stressed that victim safety and privacy will drive the development of the technology.

"This project will provide victims with complete and confidential access to the variety of services available to them after a crime so they can begin making steps toward recovery and reclaiming their lives," she said. 

Jason Errett, senior software engineer in the University of Dayton Research Institute's software systems group, will lead software development for the Vision 21 project. He joined the Research Institute earlier in 2014 with experience in software development for the Dayton Police Department. The software systems group has a great deal of experience and expertise in software development for multiple applications and industries, including law enforcement, according to Errett. 

"We feel very fortunate to be working with Family Services on such an important project. This gives UDRI yet another opportunity to extend our outreach to help meet the needs of the community," he said. 

Initially the project will focus on resources available to victims in southwest Ohio. Errett hopes the group will be able to expand the technology nationwide. 

For additional information about Vision 21, visit http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/vision21.

Family Services has been designing programs and delivering services that meet the needs of individuals, families and communities since 1896. The University of Dayton Research Institute is a national leader in scientific and engineering research, serving government, industry and nonprofit customers since 1956.

For more information, contact Pamela Gregg, University of Dayton Research Institute communication administrator, at 937-229-3268.

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