Education Tech Award winner Social Net Watcher software scans social media to prevent school bullying and violence

Plainfield, Indiana-based cloud software firm Social Net Watcher received the Education Tech Award for its innovative scanning algorithm during the 15th annual TechPoint Mira Awards honoring the best of tech in Indiana. The technology monitors students’ social media posts and alerts teachers and parents to potential cyberbullying, suicide or violent threats.

Once phrases are identified, alert information is forwarded to school administrators for intervention that can save lives. In fact, it already has. North Putnam Middle School Principal Terry Tippin said he received an alert through Social Net Watcher about a student contemplating suicide. He said the post would have likely gone unnoticed by staff without the Social Net Watcher alert.

Over the last decade, the Cyberbullying Research Center has surveyed nearly 15,000 middle and high school students in nine different studies from over 80 different schools throughout the United States. Overall, about 24% of the students surveyed indicated that they have been cyberbullied at some point in their lifetimes. About 8% said they were cyberbullied in the 30 days preceding the survey. Similarly, about 16% of those surveyed admitted that they had cyberbullied others at some point in their lifetimes (about 6% in the most recent 30 days).

Since Social Net Watcher runs completely in the cloud, there is no need for onsite installation, IT resources, maintenance, or even any downloading to devices. Social Net Watcher also has application beyond student safety such as preventing disclosure of sensitive intellectual property or compliance information for businesses, and for probation or parole officers, the software helps to keep an eye on sexual offenders and those with protective orders, for example.

The Mira Awards judges said this year’s education tech nominees were especially strong and that winning among this group is an outstanding accomplishment. With 12 pilots at schools in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Tennessee, Social Net Watcher’s innovative scanning algorithm is monitoring Twitter and Facebook posts in English, Spanish and Chinese for dangerous situations, and more platforms like Google Circles and Snapchat will be added soon.

By offering parents and administrators real opportunities to prevent bullying, suicide and violence, Social Net Watcher has flipped the student safety model to preventative rather than reactive, and developed easy-to-use, instantaneous software and reporting channels that save lives.

 

TechPoint, Indiana’s technology growth initiative, honored Social Net Watcher and 14 other Indiana-based companies, entrepreneurs and educators for their technology excellence and innovation on May 3, at the Mira Awards gala presented by BKD CPAs & Advisors. Mira — Latin for miracle and a variable star thousands of times brighter than the Earth’s sun — represents the best of tech in Indiana each year.

Forty-eight independent, volunteer judges spent more than 700 collective hours reviewing the applications, interviewing the nominees and choosing the 15 winners. Judges were primarily subject matter experts and experienced company executives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joshua Hall is editor of techpoint.org. He writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people & events. @joshua2349