A new app called SketchFactor has been making headlines ever since it was launched last month. While developers Alison McGuire and Daniel Herrington claim it helps alert users to stay away from ‘sketchy areas’—based on user feedback—concerns have been raised over its racial undertones (sketchy equals black). But we think the app’s highlight—profiling routes based on parameters such as low lighting and incidents of harassment—is worth the criticism (sketchfactor.com). As we root for its services moving beyond New York, we look at similar apps.
Nirbhaya – Be Fearless: Pune-based Smartcloud Infotech, which adopted the now unforgettable name Nirbhaya for its safety app, recently added a new feature. City Safety Heat Maps help you keep an eye out for unsafe areas—from a high incidence of eve teasing to poor lighting and even an absence of policemen. Users are encouraged to ‘stamp’ places as green or red depending on their experience. Available for iOS and Android.
BeSafe: Currently covering Paris, London and New York, this app helps you identify unsafe neighbourhoods. After geolocating you using your phone’s settings, it will show you—on a map, with its Risk-o-meter—how safe the surrounding areas are at different times of the day. It also alerts you to places you need to avoid—like the favourite haunts of pickpockets. At $0.99. An upgrade ($1.99) will give you better neighbourhood divisions and information on gangs and crimes. Available for iOS. Details: besafe-app.com/EN
Whypoll.org: Though not new, the couple of years it’s been around has made this website better equipped to tell you which parts of Delhi are unsafe. User inputs, data from its app, Fight Back, and their platform for women to report harassment has helped it constantly update its mapping. Details: whypoll.org
—Surya Praphulla Kumar