Tech Talks

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Street Smarts for Smart Citizens

‘Smart cities’ is a phrase you often here, but what does it actually mean? Is it the technology itself or the services that tech enables making a difference to someone’s life on the street?

Cities are big, complex, idiosyncratic and bewildering places. The biggest cities have areas that are alien even to those of us who’ve lived in them for years! There are vast chunks of London I’ve never stepped foot in despite spending my entire adult life here. For the most-part my experience of London has been very positive. However, on rare occasions I’ve found myself feeling vulnerable and uneasy in my surroundings; I am a reasonably affluent white male in my early to mid-thirties. I’m unlikely to find myself in unsettling circumstances on a regular basis. Unfortunately for women, and people from minority-backgrounds, that sense of security is less easy to rely on.


Enter Safe & The City. I featured the founder Jillian Kowalchuk on the podcast earlier this year (listen here) but if you aren’t familiar with the app it is a navigation app that crowdsources information related to sexual harassment, working with the police and local authorities to ultimately reduce opportunistic crime and assaults. 


However, you’re not always able to guarantee you know the address of an incident. Maybe it happens in a park, in a crowd during a large event such as a concert or a football match. In these situations what3words offers a solution. By integrating with Safe & The City you can use what3words to use a unique three word address generated by dividing the world into a 3m x 3m grid. For example, I’m writing this article from moons.ranged.blur (have a look!).


It’s the first full technology collaboration, but the company is already working with the Mayor of London’s Night Safety Charter and UN Women. The power of data for good is only going to be realised if businesses and organisations like Safe & The City, UN Women and what3words are able to collaborate effectively.


Jillian Kowalchuk, CEO and Founder of Safe & the City, said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the pioneering geospatial company, what3words. This enables Safe & the City to improve our street-smarts insights… We see this as a long-term relationship as we scale into other cities, foster global partnerships and empower the people to transform smarter and safer communities from their everyday movements.”


To my mind it’s that marriage of community and tech that makes cities smart; If people have access to tech that enables them to feel safe and informed then it is delivering. In that context this collaboration and integration should be praised, and I’m willing it to succeed!


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If you’d like to try Safe & The City for yourself download the app onto your device here

You can also follow the company and get more information on the website, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Alternatively email hello@safeandthecity.com 


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