Technology

How to be Safe in the City

Navigation apps have been helping people get from A to B – but are their routes the safest?

Mapping devices integrate a huge amount of data from public transportation systems and satellite images to help people travel conveniently in their daily lives.

But what most of the apps fails to do is give information about the crime rates in the streets. Have there been any assaults in the area? Is a street safe to walk down at night? Women in particular have been left in vulnerable situations because of this lack of knowledge.

Apps have started to be developed to address these issues. Safe & the City was launched on International Women’s Day this year to help women find routes in London which did not put them at risk.

Jillian Kowalchuk, founder and CEO of the app, came up with the idea after walking down a Soho Street and experiencing sexual harassment from kitchen staff outside a restaurant.

“The data is building up trends and patterns of criminal behaviour about an area”

Building a criminal behaviour pattern

The mapping device incorporates crime information from the Metropolitan Police, and allows women to report unwarranted behaviour in areas anonymously. Data about whether streets have good lighting or night buses, or if nearby businesses stay open late is also used.

“The data is building up trends and patterns of criminal behaviour in an area,” says Kowalchuk. “Businesses have been really supportive. They are looking at using this data to understand how different types of antisocial behaviour such as sexual harassment could be affecting their business.”

The app is still in its early stages – future developments include the possibility of using information from the internet of things and wearable devices to let women know when they are close to a CCTV camera, or whether there is someone nearby who might be able to come to their aid.


Podcast music AcidJazz by Kevin MacLeod, Free Music Archive(CC BY 3.0)


Originally published in BR Online: Digital Economy and IoT • July 2018