A mobile app designed by students at Ben-Gurion University to match public defenders to potential clients has won the first prize in a competition sponsored by the university together with US tech giant Google and Israel’s Justice Ministry.
The Get-Lawyer app automatically selects an appropriate defense counsel based on a suspect’s personal data and criteria, including language, type of crime the person has been accused of, length of time in custody and the amount of work currently facing the public defenders’ office in a particular region.
The Students Innovating in the Public Sector 5.0 annual competition is sponsored jointly by BGU, Google, the Justice Ministry and the Government Information and Communications (ICT) Authority. It was created to improve governmental services online.
Defense attorneys who download the Get-Lawyer app to their smart phones will automatically receive notices whenever a new criminal file is opened, confirm their availability, and input how long it would take them to make contact with the suspect. The app will then recommend the most appropriate lawyer for the case. Immediately after being chosen, the attorney is sent preliminary information about the suspect on his or her cellphone, even before arriving at the police station to conduct an initial interview.
The winning entry was designed by BGU students Noa Paz, Tzofia Za’afran, Ofir Kuttner and Amir Shtadler.
Cash prizes of NIS 1,000 to NIS 5,000 ($276-$1,381) were awarded to every student who made it to the finals.
The other competitors included Taagidli, a search engine designed to assist companies who wish to register with the Israel Corporations Authority to choose a business name; Tiv Doc, a website created to help real estate developers streamline the process of registering apartment buildings with the Ministry of Justice; and Right Now, a mobile app designed to help individuals identify a wide range of social rights and benefits they are entitled to by entering their socioeconomic details.
The judging committee comprised government officials, and BGU’s head of Entrepreneurship, Dana Gavish.
“This important project with Google harnesses the wonderful entrepreneurial forces on campus in order to upgrade service provided by the public sector and to improve the lives of ordinary citizens,” David Bareket, VP and director general of Ben-Gurion Universtity, said in a statement announcing the winners.
“As a company that began as a start-up, we believe it is very important to help students turn ideas into action,” said Noa Elefant Loffler, senior manager at Google for Public Policy and Government Relations, in the statement.