Software development means that we get to work with many different kinds of clients. We really enjoyed working with the Japan Institute for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (JSIE). This non-profit organization is based in the United States and Japan. They aim to help women, minorities and youth realize their full potential through targeted programs. Be it at home, school, or work, these sections of society are routinely marginalized and undervalued. This has a direct effect on their competency and productivity levels.
JSIE aims to address disparities in society by uplifting marginalized communities. They do so through networking opportunities, mentoring services and upskilling workshops. Globally, they connect with other organizations with similar visions. Locally, focused programs are designed to combat local problems.
JSIE also serves as a meeting ground for local innovators and thought leaders. People from diverse backgrounds come together to share, learn and brainstorm together. This way, they often come up with innovative solutions to tackle social issues and create lasting change.
This is how the Guardian app came to be.
JSIE members tend to have an action-oriented outlook on social issues. One such member was a primary school teacher working in Japan. She recognized that the bullying and harassment of children was widespread in this country. Bullying at school and harassment over the internet were the most prevalent examples.
JSIE wanted to tackle this problem from its roots. To do so, they decided that the first step would be to assess which and how many children in a certain school or area were being bullied or harassed.
With this in mind, JSIE created a questionnaire that could determine if a child was being harassed at school, home or elsewhere. To distribute this questionnaire, they needed a software application. For that, they needed a software development company.
This is how they came across Deerhold. We are a software development and data analytics company based in Boston. They were impressed with our extensive portfolio of projects, particularly with our expertise and experience in mobile application and website application development. They found an enthusiastic and innovative partner in us. In 2019, Deerhold’s work on Guardian began.
Deerhold’s task was to convert the questionnaire into an easy-to-use digitized format. We began with a simple logical framework, and wrote the supporting algorithms. The technologies we used were Grails and VueJS. We designed an engaging user interface to present the questionnaire in a simple and straightforward manner. The visuals and texts had to be designed to be easily understood for children of all ages.
The app would then aggregate the results from the assessments. Finally, it would predict and analyze the level of harassment in a certain school or area based on JSIE’s scoring system.
This project dealt with important and confidential data. The primary challenge was incorporating permission and privacy compliances into the application. The Deerhold team did thorough research to ensure that our product met safety and security standards. Due to the sensitive nature of the data, we used AWS Cloud Services to securely store the assessments. For assessments carried out in school, only the school nurse could access the records. We also needed to make sure there was a minimum margin for error. We carried out exhaustive tests until we were confident that our final analyses were accurate.
Another challenge was overcoming the language barrier. We conducted all our online meetings and email communications with the client in English. However, the application itself needed questions in English and Japanese. It was important that the product was accessible to the Japanese market. For this, we reached out to Deerhold’s subsidiary in Japan to assist with some of the translations.
Finally, designing for children was an added challenge. We worked with the JSIE team to use words, phrases, signs and emoticons that were easy to understand. Creating a bilingual application for children was a first for us, and a challenge we are happy to have excelled at.
JSIE carried out a pilot where the Guardian app was used in a school in Japan. The pilot was successful and received a lot of positive feedback. The assessment style and delivery were so well liked that the project was expanded to more schools. There were also requests to add more features to the application.
This project was special to us because it introduced us to a collaborator that we truly admire. Their emphasis on supporting women, youth, and minorities resonated with us. At Deerhold we also strive to empower communities that are underrepresented in the technology field. We have always been passionate about empowering marginalized groups, both in the US and at our subsidiary in Nepal.
Working with JSIE has only furthered our admiration and respect for the work of non-profit organizations. We aim to do more software development work with organizations like them, and to do so at discounted rates.