In October 2017, Jillian Kowalchuk joined the Geovation Programme with the aim of becoming the world’s most responsible data insight provider by enabling the design of smarter and safer cities. The Safe & the City, mobile GPS navigation app launched in March 2018, using official police data and crowdsourced geotagged information on street and sexual harassment to paint a picture of the safety of London’s citizens, and how we can positively change these spaces to be safer as people move through them.
Jillian began building the app after her own experiences of sexual harassment in London. She says “I saw the opportunity as a public health professional and tech4good enthusiast, to create a way we can shape the future of safety and inclusion through our everyday movements. From an idea to where we are now demonstrates how one person can make a difference, but aligning your time, energy and focus with other like-minded people makes you an unstoppable force”.
Since launching her company Safe & the City has gone from strength to strength. From their work with the Metropolitan Police, Mayor of London’s Night Safety Charter, UN Women UK Safe Spaces for Women & Girls project to their work with Uber UK’s safety team.
With Covid-19 they are now embarking on another important step to help tackle safety and security across the UK. Evidence suggests street and sexual harassment have worsened during lockdown. The majority of that harassment will go unreported so there can be little done to stop it. Something has to change if increased harassment is not going to be part of the ‘new normal’.
In response, Safe & The City is launching a new campaign to drive reporting of sexual harassment and raise funds for tools that will make it easier for charities and other organisations to act on reports and not let another lockdown increase rates of abuse.
The campaign The Most Dangerous Word is ‘Just’ centres on the fact that millions of incidents of harassment are minimised, not reported, as we tell ourselves and each other it was a ‘just’ a comment, or ‘just’ a joke.
According to a national survey an estimated 85% of young women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment a year, and according to TfL 90% of these remain unreported. Alongside this activity to drive reporting Safe & The City is seeking to raise £15,000 via Crowdfunder to develop a tool to help charities act on the data gathered.
Currently, where and when harassment happens is hard to assess making proactive reduction challenging. This tool will help charities develop targeted solutions, stop incidents, and lobby for wider policy change to protect the most vulnerable.
One such organisation supporting the campaign is the Women’s Equality Party Lambeth. Emily Reddon, said: “To make change we need to paint a picture of what street harassment looks like in our local areas. That’s where information from Safe & the City would be a gamechanger. To understand what people are experiencing, how often and where, which would allow us to make targeted interventions.”
Consider supporting this Geovation alumni’s campaign to help them move into more cities faster and keep its citizens safe.