An App to Report Harassment, Discrimination

By: Marie Donlon

As workplace harassment and discrimination continue to make headlines, developers have created an app to report such incidents.

Considering that many victims who report such occurrences are met with inaction, or worse, disbelief or retaliation, they are often reluctant to come forward.

The free app, called Spot, relies on an AI-based chatbot to conduct interviews with persons reporting these incidents. Once complete, the system generates a detailed report of the incident that can be sent to higher-ups (either anonymously or not).

“Spot acts as a perfect memory interviewer and asks all the right questions to make sure you don’t miss anything,” says Julia Shaw, one of Spot’s co-founders.

“A perfect memory interviewer is calm, is neutral, and makes sure that they don’t ask leading questions,” she says. “The problem is, it’s quite difficult to train people, and to train people to actually stick to the script. People are easily led astray and distracted.”

As such, the Spot founders believe the bot to be better capable of taking a report than a human thanks to being a neutral, non-judgmental system. Additionally, Spot has been trained to use evidence-based cognitive interviewing techniques to evoke details without injecting bias.

Spot is also more accessible than traditional reporting methods that could keep victims waiting for an appointment as long as days or weeks after the incident occurred.

“Often people forget, for example, to mention exactly where or when something happens,” Shaw says. “Or maybe there were witnesses there they forgot. A bot really prompts people to think through all the pieces that might be relevant to making their case stronger.”

For more on Spot, click here.