XPrize, a non-profit which creates global competitions to incentivise innovation on the world’s most pressing problems, launched two new prizes in India: one for access to fresh water, and the other for women’s safety.
The $1 million women’s safety prize will be awarded to participants who create a service or technology that will enable women to seek immediate help during emergency situations. The technology or service will have to trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders within 90 seconds and at an annual cost of $40 or less, according to XPrize’s website.
The prize has been sponsored by Indian-Americans Anu and Naveen Jain, and the competition will remain open for 20 months.
“When women are safe, economies thrive. It’s good business to keep women safe,” Zenia Tata, executive director of global development and international expansion at XPrize, told Verge.
On the reason why the prizes are being launched in India, Tata told The Hindu that Indian innovators will ‘up the ante when they’ve got to innovate on a world stage”.
The company made the announcement in partnership with the UN at an event in New Delhi.
“I grew up in Middle East, but I have vivid memories of visiting India every two years with my two sisters, and many times there were situations where it was just not safe being girls and going around different places,” sponsor Anu Jain said at the event.
Measures taken by the government to introduce technological emergency measures have been lacklustre. The SOS app that the Delhi police introduced last year was ineffective. Women complained that the app did not load properly on their phones, and that it worked too slowly.
Tata says that the many safety apps that are being developed both by the private, and the public sector are not very helpful to women because they are difficult to activate quickly. XPrize is looking for a solution that will work when there is low connectivity, no visible Wifi, or cellular signal.