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How London is crowd sourcing its way to safer streets

Citizens are coming together on the mobile app Safe & the City to share experiences and reduce the incidence of opportunistic crimes and sexual harrassment

The app uses GPS, crowdsourced information and police risk data
The app uses GPS, crowdsourced information and police risk data

Hundreds of women and men in London have reported their experiences of unsafe or uncomfortable environments or incidents of verbal, non-verbal or physical sexual harassment since the launch of the Safe & the City mobile app a year ago.


Government research shows that while 85 per cent of women experience some form of harassment, 90 per cent of the incidents remain unreported.


Crowdsourced information


Safe & the City, founded by Jillian Kowalchuk, is a London-based technology company that is geared towards making a safer city for all. It uses GPS, crowdsourced information and police risk data to reduce victims of opportunistic crimes and sexual harassment.


Its use of navigation technology enables people to plan their walks with safety in mind; reach Safe Site locations and seek help from trained staff, and quickly contact emergency services. These key data insights can build a picture of what is known and previously unknown to make real-time street-level changes while personalising routes for users.


The app, which was launched on International Women’s Day 2018, is continually being enhanced to improve the user experience and provide greater information. The latest improvements include better navigation with turn-by-turn directions, integration with what3words for greater accuracy, and pinned locations of police stations and licensed premises involved in the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign can also be identified as Safe Sites.

“Preventing people from becoming victims of crime in the first place must be a part of any sustainable strategy”

Workspace venue, Huckletree Shoreditch, was one of the first Safe Sites locations, identified to users as a place in the app where they can get support. This venue, like the others, offers a safe haven for people who feel uncomfortable or are in need of assistance.


All reports are anonymous and are shared with the police, Safe Site locations and public bodies to provide them with the tangible evidence required to create street-level changes throughout the city, as well as regionally and even nationally.


Safe cities globally


In the year since the launch, Safe & the City has forged strong working partnerships with several key organisations. With UN Women UK the partnership is geared towards a pilot research project for the UN Women’s Global Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces initiative aimed at providing decision makers with the data insights essential for creating safe and inclusive spaces for women and girls; with the Metropolitan Police to create safer streets for everyone; and integrating locations into the maps from the Ask for Angela campaign, which works to prevent and reduce sexual violence and vulnerability in night-time service economies.


"We are pleased to see the efforts of Safe & the City. This is an innovative use of our crime data that we can use together to keep people safe,” said Commander Richard Smith, head of safeguarding at the Met Police. “Preventing people from becoming victims of crime in the first place must be a part of any sustainable strategy."


Safe & the City has over 5,000 pledged users who are reporting their direct or witnessed experiences of harassment and committing to creating safer streets for everyone. Users have shared the various ways Safe & the City has helped them from choosing areas free of harassment for a night out to planning running routes.


The Safe & the City app is available for free download on Android and iOS. Further information can be viewed on its website which also supports crowdsourcing experiences around the world.


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