Electronic paper is going to take over the world sooner than you think, wrote Wired in its article on the meteoric rise of the technology. This proliferation is made possible by the fact that there is only one display technology that checks all the boxes of versatile indoor and outdoor use. E-paper is rugged, requires very little power and can be used and viewed with ease in absolutely any conditions, everywhere, from billboards to price tags and the walls of people’s houses.
Now the energy-saving screens are also helping fight violence in schools. The community milestone comes courtesy of a new epaper reporting and alerting system that detects risk factors among youth.
A global problem
According to the American Psychological Association, 40% to 80% of all school-age children will experience abusive behavior from their peers at some point during their school careers.
The abusive behavior can quickly spiral out of control, just like it did in Mexico, ranked number one by the OECD for schoolroom violence. In 2014 the country was left reeling when a 12-year-old student died in a case of schoolyard antics gone wrong, exposing a pattern of extreme violence in schools.
“Bullying is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to know what is happening underneath the surface: the factors at home, in the school,“ explains Alfonso Flores, the founder of PARE360 and the force behind Community HUB, the new epaper bullying reporting and alerting system.
Detecting risks with the help of a touchscreen
The Community HUB allows students to report violence anonymously and safely, by answering a few simple questions on a robust and easy-to-read epaper screen. “It is, for all intents and purposes, a black box of violence prevention,” adds Flores. “The system has been developed from scratch to detect risk factors among youth and develop policies to combat school violence through reporting and community engagement.”
The report generated by the Community HUB is transmitted in real time to the school director for immediate action, as well as to a mapping software. This allows for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data gathered, assessing the safety of a school and shaping preventative policies, as well as enabling a deeper understanding of a child’s needs and values.
Electronic paper technology was selected for the Community HUB because it was the best fit for both outdoor and indoor use, requiring very little energy to run and being extremely user-friendly.
Mimicking the appearance of ordinary ink, electronic paper differs from other displays in two key points.
An electronic paper display will be consuming power only when the content on it is changing – for example when you flip the page on your Kindle, or when a child touches the screen to report an incident. This makes electronic paper extremely energy efficient, meaning that it can run for weeks on a single battery or even on alternative power sources. Case in point: the solar-powered Community HUB kiosk.
E-paper displays are also reflective, which means that the light from the environment is reflected from the surface of the display towards the user’s eyes, just like with traditional paper. In addition to avoiding light pollution, this feature makes the display easier on the eyes, providing a wider viewing angle and making the content displayed perfectly visible even in the direct sunlight of a school yard.
Add to that a thin-client approach, where the electronic paper device uses Wi-Fi or cellular networks to connect with a server capable of running applications developed on standard web technologies, and you have a robust, fool-proof device. Independent from the power grid and installable anywhere, it is perfectly suited to real-time reporting in demanding environments such as schools.
Using the right tools
In recognition of the reporting system’s fight against schoolroom violence, Community HUB has won the World Summit Award for Inclusion and Empowerment awarded in cooperation with the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society.
Strengthening the social inclusion of individuals, the reporting and alerting system was hailed as unique “because it mixes psychological factors with technological innovation and community participation that perfectly integrate the protective and predictive factors against crime.”
Matej Zalar, CEO of Visionect, whose epaper technology powers the HUB, welcomes the recognition: “Community HUB is an incredibly inspiring project and one that has enormous potential to change society for the better. It is a perfect example of what can be achieved with big ideas supported by the right tools.”