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Working towards a safe society. Startups help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Part 8)

In dealing with new challenges, such as cyberbullying, we now have the opportunity to use tools that are relevant to it. We are talking about modern technologies that are increasingly created by startups to help victims of violence.

Peace, justice and strong institutions

The primary task of the UN in this area is to reduce the level of violence in all forms and to reduce the associated mortality rate around the world. This is to be enforced, among other things, by developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.

Safe schools

More than one billion children worldwide are affected by violence. Its effects cost society up to $7 trillion annually. Unfortunately, a large number of children and young people are victims of violence in a seemingly safe place – school.

RESQL has come out to meet the needs of the youngest. The startup team has developed a system to support schools in solving the problem of peer violence.

– The RESQL system is based on an application that allows anonymous reporting of incidents of violence by a student – the report goes directly to the interventionists (psychologists, educators, and sometimes teachers). The application facilitates response, decision making or action after the report. The system also includes a panel for managing and handling reports and ready-made lesson scenarios for teachers on violence and psychological mechanisms around violence,” says Piotr Ciszek, CEO of RESQL.

The system has been developed on the basis of research and workshops involving the school community (students, teachers, principals and parents). It is safe to say that the RESQL system is an innovation on many levels.

– So far, on the market in Poland and in many countries around the world, there has been no tool for building professional, anonymous student-teacher communication. Giving such a tool as an application to a smartphone, which is the most frequently used device among young people, gives a great chance for openness to use the solution. Another novelty is the ability to report an incident of peer violence around the clock from a discreet location, free to the reporter. The application ensures full anonymity of the user – adds Piotr Ciszek.

The anonymity mentioned above is extremely important for school-age children and young people, which is also stressed by the RESQL CEO.
– The provision of a safe and anonymous system of reporting situations of violence is the basic prerequisite in order to be able to undertake effective remedial and preventive programmes. The currently applied solutions based on school helplines or the need for direct contact with an adult have their limitations, especially in schools that are numerous and where there is no culture of informing or notifying adults in the event of disturbing incidents. There is even a culture of “not reporting” in some establishments, so RESQL is based on the premise that a student remains anonymous until they choose to reveal their identity themselves.

RESQL is already used by over 8,000 users nationwide.

Safe Internet

The 21st century has brought new opportunities and, above all, new challenges. One of them is cyberbullying. According to government statistics, every tenth child is a victim of online violence. It can take different forms and is no less dangerous than violence in the real world.

Samurai Labs, a startup, has taken on this sensitive area in the context of violence against children. The company has created a technology that it calls a cyber guard.

– Samurai Labs is a cyber-guard, which is supposed to protect children from dangers on the Internet. The system analyzes language in great depth and learns from the data itself, but above all it can use the knowledge obtained from experts: psychologists, educators, criminologists, linguists. The system processes and assimilates this knowledge and then uses it during analysis to draw conclusions. It can distinguish when a word or phrase is used to express emotions in a game – and when cyberbullying or threats are involved. Samurai Labs is revolutionizing the current paradigm from passive moderation – to one that can prevent violence. This is not an improvement on what is available, but a complete paradigm shift. Samurai is the first autonomous “virtual” moderator that can handle any number of conversations. As the first product on the market it works automatically, i.e. it makes its own decisions about real prevention, creation and escalation of violence in the network – says Michal Wroczynski, CEO of Samurai Labs.

Samurai Labs team is aware of the fact that in the internet a potential threat lurks “around every corner”.

– We are active on Discord, in games, in e-learning systems used by both children and adults. Cyber bullying applies to everyone, but indeed we pay special attention to teenagers. The system is also used in games, where it catches and blocks aggressive, hurtful or harmful messages. Samurai does not censor ugly words – it looks for attacks – adds Michał Wroczyński.

The CEO has extensive experience in working on similar technologies. High effectiveness of the cyber guard did not come from nowhere.

– My adventure with neuro-symbolic artificial intelligence began with the company Fido Labs, which developed algorithms for deep understanding of natural language. At the turn of 2010/2011, we made the world’s first system for detecting pedophile activity on the Internet. We created bots pretending to be children and only when we identified an adult on the other side who was “grooming” a child or molesting, the appropriate operator would enter the conversation. It was then that we realized that a lot of bad things were happening on the Internet, and technology was only making the problem worse. Samurai acquired the patents and technology of Fido Labs, so that innovative methods of understanding language were developed and adopted to fight cyberbullying. Today, at the head of the company, apart from me, stand the main founders – Gniewosz Leliwa and Grzegorz Rutkiewicz, and Samurai Labs is in the process of another round of financing – concludes Michał Wroczyński.

Partnership for the goals

The final UN Sustainable Development Goal is a partnership to effectively meet all the goals of the agenda. Reasonable financing, strengthening cooperation between nations and raising public awareness are the factors necessary for effective fulfillment of the goals.

New institutions are being established in this area as well. Their aim is to simplify as much as possible the processes necessary for the implementation of subsequent tasks. These include non-profit organizations, such as the Danish UNLEASH, which organizes hackathons covering issues related to innovation for sustainable development.

Not only non-profit organizations but also startups are making their technology available for international integration. For example, the UK fintech startup, World Wide Generation, has created a tool to digitally manage and report on how far a goal has already been met. G17Eco’s project management system uses DLT technology to automate the mapping, monitoring and measuring of stakeholder contributions to sustainability goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a bold initiative that doesn’t happen without collaborative efforts, so the last goal is the perfect buckle to tie all the previous goals together. International partnerships combined with the powerful tools of modern technology make it clear that achieving the goals is within our reach.

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