London-based start-up Safe & The City has launched a personal safety app designed to combat sexual harassment in public spaces.
The free app works by using GPS technology, crowd-sourced information and crime data from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London.
Police data is used to alert users in advance before approaching intersections with a patternerd history of crime.
Safe & The City allows its users to report incidents based on how safe a route feels. After walks are completed, users can quickly rate elements of their walk, such as street lighting, to inform others of conditions and pattern behaviour.
The idea for the app came after CEO and founder Jillian Kowalchuk experienced sexual harassment herself.
“I put a lot of trust into navigation apps to get me around London, but found navigating only the fastest route wasn’t necessarily the safest,” she said.
“One evening, I was guided down a dark, narrow, empty alley, where two male kitchen staff on break said vulgar acts about what they wanted to do to my body.
“I ignored them, put on a brave face, but felt scared knowing I was walking where I couldn’t easily escape or seek help.
“Their threats turned out to be empty, but I started thinking about younger or more vulnerable persons walking there where the situation could have escalated.
“With Safe & The City, I want to empower others to have all the information to help them feel and actually be safer.”
Peter Barron, former Head of Crime Performance and Strategic Risk at the Met and on the advisory board of Safe & The City, added: “In over 30 years of police experience I constantly argued for a more intelligent use of the data we held.
“Safe & The City are now combining the data supplied by police, together with crowd-sourced feedback to improve safety of its users.”
The Safe & The City app is currently available on iOS, with an Android version coming soon.