Personal safety app for women that ‘shouldn’t have to exist’ sees a surge in downloads following the murder of Sarah Everard in London
- The app, called WalkSafe, has had 300,000 downloads within the past week
- This saw it go to the top spot of free apps on iOS and top ten for Android apps
- It lets users see recently reported incidents on a map and alert family of issues
- The app has seen a huge demand in the wake of the Sarah Everard kidnap murder as well as discussions surrounding gender violence in the UK
A women’s safety app that its developers say ‘shouldn’t have to exist’ has surged to the top of the download charts in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.
WalkSafe has attracted more than 300,000 downloads within a week, becoming the number one free app on Apple’s iOS and entering the top 10 on Android.
Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, is accused of kidnapping and murdering 33-year-old Everard, as she walked home from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, in the evening on March 3.
The app includes a map of previously reported incidents nearby that makes users aware of any potential ‘danger zones’ and helping them plan a safer route home.
The app has climbed to the top of Apple’s free chart amid serious debate about the issue of women’s safety
Sarah Everard, 33, went missing on March 3 after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, sparking a week-long search
WALKSAFE: KEY FEATURES OF THE APP
WalkSafe feature displays crime locations and gives safety alerts when walking or exercising
‘HomeSafe’ feature alerts user’s emergency contacts if they fail to make it home within allocated time
‘TapSafe’ feature notifies contacts when users stop tapping their screen in nervous situations
The tool only had 2,000 downloads before Ms Everard’s disappearance and the ensuing debate about gender violence, co-founder Emma Kay explained.
Ms Kay’s own experiences of harassment inspired her to support the app, but she says she feels very strongly that a service like this ‘shouldn’t have to exist’
‘There have been instances in the past of myself, dating back from a young age – I’m talking schoolgirl age – where you felt nervous, you’ve been scared.
‘I’ve been followed, I’ve had someone, a stranger in the street put his hand up my skirt, I’ve been in those sorts of situations and it does start young.’
As well as a map of recent incidents, the app allows people to tap the screen every so often while walking home – no taps for a while alerts loved ones to a danger.
If this feature, known as ‘TapSafe’, is enabled emergency contacts are immediately notified.
They will be sent the user’s location if they stop tapping their phone for more than a certain period of time, the team said.
The colours on TapSafe will change depending on the time of day, allowing for discreet use at night time – reducing the risk of alerting a potential attacker.
Users can also check in with others and let the app send an automatic notification to friends when they have reached their destination.
Known as the ‘HomeSafe feature’, this allows users to set their estimated time of arrival at home, and will send their location to emergency contacts if users do not complete their journey in time.
‘It’s easy to forget to message people when you’ve made it home safely,’ app developers explained, when discussing this feature.
As well as a map of recent incidents, the app allows people to tap the screen every so often while walking home – no taps for a while alerts loved ones to a danger
‘But if you fail to get home on time, HomeSafe sends out an automatic alert and location, which will immediately let contacts know that the user might be in trouble.’
Ms Kay – a mother of one who is expecting her second child – said the feedback from users of the app has been positive and ‘rewarding’.
They have also had requests from people in the Netherlands and the US to expand support internationally.
‘Our ultimate goal was, even if it saves one person from a difficult situation then it will all be worth it and that’s really what drives us,’ she said.
Couzens is due to go on trial in the autumn.
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