A Safer Walk, a free mobile app, has launched, which is dedicated to helping women safely connect with other local women, in any moment, to share: quick walks through questionable parking lots, longer walks home at night from school or work, sharing cabs or public transit, or just getting together for a jog, gym, or some time outside.
Trevor MacDonald, Co-Founder of the Edmonton-based platform along with Jessica Tomory, said the app also has dedicated walk Groups, which are being offered to business towers and complexes, as well as university campuses.
“While A Safer Walk is a free download for women to use in public, we license the access and facilitation of our dedicated walk groups to building management groups offering it as a value-add to their tenants,” said MacDonald.
He said the project has its roots back a year and a half ago.
“We spent quite a bit of time interviewing women, asking questions around how women felt about the safety in Edmonton and other cities in traveling. And really how that reflected in transit and daily things and things that women did to avoid conflicts or unwanted encounters,” said MacDonald.
“We came back with the idea that women needed a tool where they could engage other women on the fly to complete safer walks as short as going to an underground parking lot in a building or all the way home from a commuting situation from their workplace.”
While there’s endless GPS tracking and check-in apps available, these are reactive and often late in response. A Safer Walk describes itself as a proactive and preventative approach, discouraging confrontations and reducing assaults by empowering women with mobile technology that helps organize spontaneous pairs or groups when traveling by foot or shared ride.
A Safer Walk only provides accounts for women. User IDs are all verified from government IDs from all States and provinces so women can access the network under a verified term.
“Gender-based violence is an under reported and under supported area of our society, particularly for minorities. With concern, recent statistics indicate the rate of violence against women as on the rise. The numbers suggest women and other vulnerable groups need far more action, support, and resources from local and federal governments, while gaining access to better tools and resources to help proactively avoid confrontations and assaults,” says the initiative on its website.
“Excluding incidents committed by intimate partners, 39 per cent of Canadian women, aged 15 years and older, reported experiencing at least one physical or sexual assault since age 15.”
MacDonald said he sees the app as a tool by building managers of shopping centres and other commercial buildings that can be extended to the tenants and staff working in these buildings.
“Obviously in a retail complex you’re going to have probably more women than men working in those spaces and those are complex buildings with a lot of blind spots and what can be scary areas to loop through,” he said. “If you’re someone alone, if you’re closing up a retail outlet at night and leaving through that complex to your parking situation or maybe taking public transit, this is a tool that connects women within the building with one another.
“So you work at one store, I work at another. There’s no reason we would socially know each other but through this verified network we can connect with each other to see each other’s posted walks and rides that women are looking for people to share with.
“The idea is to give women a tool that helps them coordinate pairs and groups for better mobility and can reduce the stress in their commute and hopefully discourage unwanted encounters that they might experience if they were alone.”
MacDonald said a dedicated walk group could be set up through the app. It can also be used to provide information specifically geared to women in a certain building environment.
Once women have an account for A Safer Walk they can immediately start scanning their local area for current Posted Walks by other women in their 1-40 kilometre range. Or maybe Post A Walk themselves for leaving downtown on foot, sharing a train ride home from work, splitting a cab, or possibly just going for a walk or jog.
A Safer Walk provides women:
- A free 24/7 online service;
- Driven by women on the go in your community, no volunteers required;
- Potential walk / cab rides / transit commutes going to-and-from destinations;
- A woman-only experience;
- Multiple walk options and scheduled flexibility;
- Ability to connect with other women off-campus (ie. events);
- More focused and direct trips for users avoiding ‘milk route’ delivery for large walk groups;
- No zero-sum for matching students with walks.