Sex Workers Go Mobile: A Mobile Technology Innovation for Harm Reduction
Bleviss, Sarah Jenny, Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies
PROS Network, a coalition of social service providers offering services to sex workers and other marginalized populations from a harm reduction and human rights perspective, has designed the PROS Network Services Finder, a mobile website for use with the iPhone and Android providing a listing of harm reduction services for sex workers in New York City based on GPS location information. The current services listings are organized under the following categories: harm reduction and syringe exchanges, shelters, legal services, youth services, and advocacy and support services. In future iterations, the application will include a two-way "bad date list" feature as well as the ability to report instances of violence with a focus on combating police violence.
PROS Network Services Finder was developed in two courses at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP): Professor Christina Goodness' Information Technology for Socio-Political Change, and Professor Shawn Van Every's Mobile Me(dia). The first iteration of the project was developed in collaboration with fellow ITP M.A. candidate Matthew Swenson using the text messaging technology known as SMS (short messaging service). To use this application, one simply texts the phrase "nyhelp" with their New York City zip code to 41411, and in return receives the contact information for the closest social service provider. .
Sex workers face a number of barriers to accessing services such as mental health care, social services, and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Pervasive cultural stigma, legal obstacles, poverty, formal education, and other factors exacerbate the barriers to access of services. …