These Young Black Men Created a Tech Resource for Sexual Assault Survivors
Photo Credit: The Garden
The tech industry is always on the hunt for fresh talent to bring forth new ways of thinking and innovative concepts to build a better future for our society.
Michael Jordan, Princewill Imouokhome, and Gentill Abdulla — three young Black men who graduated from Texas A&M University — are a part of that rising generation of innovators who are on track to be tomorrow’s tech leaders.
Together, these three created an anonymous sexual assault reporting system under their company The Garden with the help of blockchain technology, which has the potential to simplify and add greater security to data management, according to Forbes.
In the summer of 2017, Jordan, Imouokhome, and Abdulla had an idea to create a tech resource that could be of great use to sexual assault survivors, which today is known as OYA.
Oya – noun: An African Goddess of change
Now it also stands for an anonymous mobile blockchain sexual assault reporting system.
— thegardenapp (@thegardenapp) May 14, 2020
“Around that same time the #MeToo movement was catching fire,” said co-founder Imouokhome.
Upon discovering there weren’t many resources to connect sexual assault survivors outside of their communities, the three figured they could contribute something powerful to the movement stating they could “just do it themselves.”
“We had a technology that can do really well for people,” Gentill said. “We realized this is such an overlooked group of people that we have to do something about it.”
Through blockchain technology, Jordan, Imouokhome, and Abdulla have developed a way for sexual assault survivors on college campuses to safely report their incidents and connect with a network of people who have similar circumstances.
The method they used to develop blockchains called for a way to make the technology available to every user, which required some tweaking.
“What we initially wanted was a way for people to report them anonymously using this technology,” said Abdulla. “From there, we realized that [blockchain] wasn’t actually accessible enough for everybody.”
Initially operating under the name Ciaspora — a combination of crypto and Diaspora — Jordan, Imouokhome, and Abdulla spent two years developing an algorithm called “proof of record,” which shrinks blockchains, so they’re functional on mobile devices.
While developing this concept for an app, the three former students started getting attention from their university’s school newspaper. Now they’re ready to unveil their invention to the world.
“With this technology, we’re essentially creating a list of sexual assault reports and using that list to provide data to research as well as catharsis for people who have survived sexual assault,” Abdulla said.
Now running under a new patent-pending consensus algorithm, OYA provides a more centralized database for storing details of sexual assault cases and data analysis. The app also allows users to create reports that are then inserted into a larger list of reported cases for people around the world to view and interact with.
In addition to developing the mobile application, they have also made an effort to work with administrations and student organizations on college campuses to incorporate more resources that can be an asset to survivors.
According to Jordan, OYA has been in the works for the past three years and all three former students have dedicated a lot of effort toward perfecting the app.
“We’re just trying to make it as polished and efficient as possible to make sure we’re giving [people] the best possible product,” Imouokhome said.
OYA is currently going through beta testing to make it more user-friendly and it set to officially launch for use later this year.
As young Black men, Jordan, Imouokhome, and Abdulla are making major strides with their new development to represent Black tech talent.
“We want it to be very clear that as Black and brown people, we want to be willing to step into the early spaces like the up and rising technologies,” said Imouokhome.
For more updates on The Garden and OYA, click here.