PopTech Accelerator unveils PeaceTXT initiative


As part of its ongoing commitment to fostering breakthrough social innovation and collaboration, PopTech unveiled Friday a new Accelerator initiative, PeaceTXT — a multidisciplinary project to explore the potential of mobile technology to amplify a proven approach to reducing violence.

A collaborative effort among CeaseFire, FrontlineSMS: Medic, and Ushahidi, PeaceTXT is seeking to use mobile mapping and cellular technology to provide CeaseFire team members with valuable new tools in their campaign against urban violence.

“It’s part of our mission to facilitate and orchestrate these kinds of collaborations,” PopTech Accelerator Director Leetha Filderman said. “We believe this has the potential to have a very big impact.”

Gary Slutkin, Leetha Filderman, Patrick Meier and Josh Nesbit during a PopTech 2010 Q&A session

Dr. Gary Slutkin, CeaseFire executive director and Professor, Epidemiology and International Health, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, said the CeaseFire approach was to treat violence as an infectious disease.

“Violence behaves exactly like an infectious disease in the areas we study,” he said. “By mapping the epidemic nature of violence in Chicago, we have found geographic clusters of infected areas. Violence is epidemic in these areas, and we know how to reverse epidemics.”

“In order to expand the depth and reach of our programs, and accelerate the impact they are having, we have to be thinking about ways to collaborate,” said Amanda Geppert, director and coordinator of national programs and partners at CeaseFire and a 2010 PopTech Social Innovations Fellow. “It takes a lot of effort to change behavior, so it’s a matter of making meaningful information about impact available to the community; while also thinking about how can we invite community members to understand the violence in their community.”

The PeaceTXT initiative is developed in partnership with the Rita Allen Foundation.

(Photo credit: Kris Krüg)

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