LDN Life has always about the best places to have fun in the city, and while we love a good party, we have turned down many an invite because we weren’t sure about the area or the location. Often it was a hunch, what we’d heard or a quick internet search, neither really offer a good and accurate picture of what the reality is, or how to make sure (best you can) that you’re safe in arguably the best city in the world. So we met up with Jillian, the founder of Safe & the City, for a no holds barred chat over a glass of wine.
Jill: All right, How do we begin? Mr. Adam?
Adam: I guess we should start at the beginning. So what does it mean to the average Londoner?
Jill: So safe & the city tries to be accessible to everyone, even though it was my particular experience of being sexual harassed while following my navigation app. But, I know that sexual harassment can happen to anyone. And we actually don’t know the extent that it’s happening to men because even more taboo to report or come forward with a lot of these experiences. But in general, what we’re trying to do is build a picture of the experiences people have on their day to day commutes, that doesn’t feel comfortable, and could be precursors to prevent a more severe crime. having an understanding about how do we improve those spaces and those journeys.
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Adam: This sounds like a massive undertaking. How do you manage it all?
Jill: It’s really important that we communicate with our users that everyone is contributing to a smarter, safer city. We work with Metropolitan Police, the Mayor of London’s night Czar. And UN Women UK, so we can stay ahead of these crimes and build better systems for other types of experience.
With safety, it’s important to recognise the already established safe spaces who are trained or can offer support when in need. Businesses, schools, charities and areas can sign up for free to become a listed Safe Site for people to know where they can go into. We also have Safe Site training programme at a low-cost to make sure information about how to support vulnerable community, improve staff safety traveling to and from work and exercises to look at workplace changes. Organisations interested can simply get in touch with one of our team at [email protected].
Adam: What impact can Londoners have by submitting an experience?
Jill: Every experience of safety should count. Our partnership with the Metropolitan Police, Mayor of London and UN Women UK, shows the trust that even one report can make a difference in someone else’s journey. Only together can we can truly understand and improve safety in cities and that can begin with our everyday journeys. Not only do our users benefit from these insights to begin to personalise routes, but also have an anonymous place to support their community and recognise their experience.
Adam: Okay. Wow. So tell us about the Safe & the City Safe Sites.
Jill: We want to positively promote the businesses that are actively aware of public safety and can offer support if someone is feeling vulnerable. For our trained Safe Sites, Safe & the City stickers appear on the storefronts, as well as identified with their hours of operation in the Safe & the City app. We welcome any interested business to get in touch with us at [email protected].
Adam: Do you believe you can make a difference to crimes like knife crime?
Jill: Through our partnership with the Metropolitan Police, we do supply our intelligence to them, however, our focus isn’t on the crimes they will often know about or will be caught through other emergency services, such as hospitals. Safe & the City is not a reporting app for serious crimes like knife attacks, but we do have our 999 quick call button for people to reach help if they do witness or experience such crimes.
Adam: Is this a service just for women or is it for anyone?
Jill: Safe & the City is open to everyone, as safety is a universal need. However, women have predominately been users of safety apps for personal safety, as there is often a difference in our conditionally and therefore perceptions. . As a petite woman, often I can demonstrate this point standing next to a tall man and getting people to think if we have the same perspective and experience of spaces. Unfortunately, to -date there hasn’t been a technology that can be responsive and trustworthy to provide this type of personalised safety routing.
Adam: Are you replacing Neighbourhood Watch? Traditionally the local lookout force.
Jill: In a sense yes we want people to feel connected through the communities insights, whether you are new to an area, visiting or have been living there your whole life. It is therefore important to us at Safe & the City that we have representative voices included, especially the most vulnerable who may be at a greater risk of their safety being jeopardised.
We want to work with charities, advocacy bodies and social media movements so their communities feel they can contribute and benefit from our products. This was one of the reasons we built the web platform so that people who may not have a smartphone can still access our website and be able to report their experiences.
Adam: Are you very much still finding your place within the wider community?
Jill: As a start-up you’re always needing to be agile and responsive to our users requirements and desires. From my own personal experience, I started Safe & the City focused around sexual harassment, which has always be a concern to my personal safety due to my experiences with it. We recognise that sexual harassment is not the only safety concern, but also cannot be everything to everyone. This is why our focus remains on the highly unreported, normalised experiences which affect our perceptions of safety and how we choose to spend our time in different spaces. We’ve started engaging LGBT+ and, anti-racism advocacy groups about how we can broaden our reach to crowdsource safety insights and therefore benefit different groups of people. If you are part of a group and want to get in touch about how we can collaborate you can reach our team at [email protected] .
Adam: Are you London centric or can people use this across the UK?
Jill: Safe & the City is taking a city-by-city approach so we can work hand-in-hand with the police, pubic bodies and communities. To fully benefit from our street-smart insights London is the best place to use us, but our other major functions like navigation and 999- services is available UK-wide. However, as part of the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme we have started building relationships in New York City, Chicago and Detroit to start testing out some of those. We are also looking to launch in Berlin in November, as part of a Vodafone programme.
Adam: So we’ve got to talk about What3Words. What does what three words means to you in erm 3 words?
Best partnership Ever
Adam: Well, that’s apparently in Utah apparently, but tell us more.
Jill: I initially heard about What3Words A through a great friend of mine who’s started working there. There were clear synergies between our technologies and team from the start. Both companies are strategic in building technologies in the navigation and addressing spaces which needs much more innovation to look at key problems of mobility, safety and access which we were equally passionate about. What3Words works by layering an invisible 3x3m grid across the world, so traditionally spaces without an address, like a specific area in a building or field has somewhere you can navigate to with products like Safe & the City.
Integrating their technology into ours also supports police and emergency services to know exactly where you are and can start to detect with more accuracy trends of certain incidents within particular spaces. We have done a few press engagements, most recently a joint roundtable with journalists on the importance of safety in Smart Cities, but have plenty more to come so watch this space. We are always looking for other mobile apps that do not have a navigation functionality to work with us to provide safety-as-a-service to their users. To find out more check out our website or of course reach out to us directly.