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22nd November 2018

Meet the business: Safe & The City

Joss Harris

What is Safe & The City?

Safe & The City is the only free street-smart navigation app to safely navigate cities. It uses crowdsourcing to gather information on crimes, experiences and perceptions which made people feel uncomfortable. This anonymous data is then shared with the police, local authorities and business communities to have a data-driven approach to improve not only their area but to make safer and more inclusive spaces to walk, work, shop and live.

Where did the idea come from and what is the reasoning behind the name of the company?

As the founder, the idea for Safe & The City came to me after following the fastest route home (provided by my navigation app) which turned out didn’t happen to be the safest. Through a narrow alley I was targeted by two male kitchen staff who made sexual threats towards me. Despite these threats being empty, I didn’t want another person to go through that same experience. I applied my skillset as an epidemiologist to look at how this could have been prevented through my navigation app. By adding crime, lighting and crowdsourced experiences to a navigation app, not only would it help personalise walks, but it would also provide a street-level representation to identify trends and/or problems to then find efficient ways to combat them.

As you may have guessed, Safe & The City’s name was inspired by the television show Sex & The City. This series was revolutionary in that it followed the lives of four powerful women living in New York City who were unapologetic about the stories, outfits and sexual experiences that made them who they were. I wanted to create a technology that could emulate that reality for many who don’t feel they can be themselves even walking down the street.

Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder and CEO of Safe & The City.

How did you get involved in Geovation?

I participated in the RunHack weekend hackathon which just so happened to be hosted by Geovation. It was from there I became a member in their community and applied to their accelerator which, I am delighted to say, I was accepted on to in late 2017!

How has Geovation helped your business?

Geovation helped my business in developing the early prototype of Safe & The City and by introducing the concept to a network of geospatial experts who provided connections to other data sources and industries I required.

Safe & The City now has international users, how did Geovation assist in that?

While Safe & The City iOS & Android is only available in the UK, the website permits international reports. We did this to help us understand where there is demand for the app. Geovation and the OS team helped raise our profile outside of the UK market which more than likely had an impact on attracting these users.

Would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur or a campaigner?

I would describe myself as a social entrepreneur who is designing a tech solution around a social space which is more powerful connected to geospatial data.

From a business prospective, what is its commercial scalability?

As a social enterprise we measure impact as well as commercial scalability. We are already generating revenue through our licensing membership to access training information, our internationally recognised brand, access to our online Safe Site training to staff, as well as our reports with key recommendations to action and improve the surrounding streets safety. We will then licence our APIs to be integrated with other platforms to offer a value-add to their users moving around the city and use ML/AI to understand user preferences as well as strategic insights for city-wide planning, policing and tourism.

What do you think of the geospatial sector?

Coming from the public health industry, the geospatial sector was quite new to me. It is a fascinating sector with a lot of depth and is surprisingly necessary for our day-to-day lives. Like many science-based sectors and industries, I think the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurships are vast.

What is next for Safe & The City and where do you see the business in 5 years?

I want Safe & The City to be in all major cities around the world, providing invaluable insights into where there are likely to be problematic streets as well as effective strategies to create safer and smarter cities.

 

Currently, Safe & The City is crowdfunding. To find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit the page here and follow the business on Twitter.