Most Women will have at least one story to tell about that time they were followed or felt uneasy around a stranger whilst walking somewhere. Whether it’s someone behind you late at night on a dark street or a random guy following you around the supermarket like a creep, there’s not many Women that haven’t experienced feeling totally freaked out.
And now, Canberra, the Australian capital, is hoping to change that.
A new site, which was designed and managed by the Women’s Center for Heath Matters and was funded by the Australian Capital Territory government, will serve as an interactive tool, enabling users to list where they feel unsafe and why.
Frances McNair, a woman who uses the site, said,
“There are so many places in Canberra where the lighting is just so insufficient, it’s so dark and you kind of, you just don’t feel comfortable.”
The Safety Mapping Tool can be accessed through an app or the website. McNair described using it, saying,
“You’ve got three selections, you can either choose the rectangle, circle or just the drop pin. And how do you feel? I’m going to say unsafe and why do I feel this way, there’s a lack of lighting on the bike paths.
If I’m sitting somewhere and I feel really good about the place or I’m not feeling too great, I can take out my phone and I can put in all the information and it gets collected then and there.”
The app asks the user for their gender, age, if you have impairments or disabilities that would impact the use of a public space and if there are other comments you would like to make.
Follow up questions, after you to mark a location, include how safe you felt in the area, why you felt that way, what day it was and at what time.
It’s a simple enough program, but it could prove to change a lot of situations.
Marcia Williams from the Women’s Center for Health Matters understands that, of course, this being the Internet, there will be trolls who abuse the app. Precautions have already been placed. She says,
“We’ve deliberately designed the system so the information that’s put in isn’t available to everyone and we’ll be able to sort through that data.”
The site will then analyze the information and pass it on to the government.
ACT Minister for Women Yvette Berry said,
“People have different experiences and certainly a young man may feel differently walking through the city at night than a young women.
If we can get that information through an interactive portal then we can look at ways that we can make the city feel safer and be more usable for everybody.”