21st August 2023

Tackling LGBTQ+ Hate Crime with Zoteria

Marta Lima
Site Reliability Engineering Manager, Resiliency Engineering

I’m excited to introduce our new app to tackle LGBTQI+ hate crime in the U.K.

We recently did a study at Vodafone that found over two thirds of LGBQTI+ people in the U.K were victims of a hate crime last year. More than a quarter were actually physically injured in the attack and the sad reality is that three quarters of these incidents weren’t even reported - the victims felt that they wouldn’t be taken seriously and didn’t trust the authorities to take any real action.

That’s why I created Zoteria, a new free app from Vodafone that lets users quickly and easily report a hate crime (for themselves or on behalf of someone else) and access support from their phone with a few taps. The aim is to empower the community and allies to come together and tackle the issue of LGBTQI+ hate incidents together.

I developed the app over a two-year period, after submitting the idea to a competition by Vodafone Foundation. They were looking for ideas to use technology for good and when Zoteria won, I was asked to lead the program to build it.

Developing Zoteria

It’s been quite a fantastic experience from start to finish! I’ve learned so many different skills and done so much over the last two years.

To begin with, I used my design thinking and innovation skills and background to shape the app in the initial stages - what it should be, look like and so on. Then I worked with our development team to build it, as well as multiple stakeholders from Vodafone’s senior leadership to make sure we had the right sponsorship internally. I also worked with charity partners from outside the business to ensure the app was fit for purpose.

I also had to learn all about compliance and the many privacy, legal and security aspects of creating an app, and then, all about the process of creating a brand and a campaign to launch and promote it when we were ready to introduce it to the world. Finally, when everything was ready, I was nominated to represent the app both internally and externally on behalf of Vodafone.

Zoteria is now part of Vodafone Foundation's App Against Abuse portfolio, which connects over 2.4 million people affected by abuse, violence and hate crime to advise, support and educate. It was actually shortlisted for an award at the National Technology Awards UK under the category of Tech for Good, which I'm very proud of.

First and foremost, it’s going to help anyone impacted by hate crimes in the LGBTQI+ community to get the help they need. The app also includes other relevant information about hate crime to educate users, and lists LGBTQI+ events so that users can connect with their local communities.

But also, and just as significantly, it’s hopefully going to improve the reporting of such incidents in general. We’re raising our voices and building awareness about something that severely impacts us, and it’s going to build a more accurate picture of the issue across the U.K. It’s so great to have Vodafone’s support and allyship for something so important and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference it can make!