A UCD student has been awarded an Irish Web Award for his work relating to contraception. Chris Rooney, a Business and Law student, won the award for Most Innovative Website along with his friend Liam Ryan, who is a Trinity student.
Rooney and Ryan’s website, www.safetext.ie, sends women a daily reminder to take the contraceptive pill. The website has a personalised diary for each user, which notes the days and times at which reminders will be sent out. Reminders are also sent on the week that the woman is not taking the pill, to remind her to get a new pack for her latest cycle.
Speaking to The University Observer, Rooney expressed surprise at the award, saying that he and Ryan are “over the moon” and that “we weren’t really expecting it, because we’ve only been set up about a month now, but it was amazing to get it”. He also said that winning the award “reaffirms in our minds that there is a need for the service”.
Safetext beat far more established sites, such as the music festival Oxegen, to win the award, but Rooney says that the pair have always been confident about their idea. He explained that he and Ryan “had a chat with the people who were in our category afterward and they saw the potential of it, so I think that could be as good a reason as any as to why we won”.
While sign-ups to the website have been modest, Rooney is confident that the award will have a positive effect on the success of the website. While he did not provide The University Observer with official figures, he said that the response has been “okay so far”. He and Ryan feel that the next step for the company is to market the service to GPs, who can then in turn tell their patients about it. Rooney hopes that “this could then see a reduction in the number of appointments made for the morning after pill”.
While the service has been up and running since mid-September, a launch is planned in February to coincide with SHAG week, USI’s sexual awareness week which runs across most university campuses in Dublin. Rooney explained that the pair were also utilising social media and word of mouth and that they hoped that these things combined would “get [the service] out to as many people as possible”. Rooney also feels that discussing contraception is a “sensitive subject” and hopes through these mediums, women will feel more comfortable signing up for the service.
The Irish Web Awards took place in the Mansion House and other winners included The Irish Times and boards.ie.