About Safe Spot
Safe Spot is a safety tool that takes advantage of simplicity and the infrastructure of the city in which one is located. The two main features of Safe Spot includes:
- a map that finds the closest location(s) of open establishments near to one’s location at any time.
- a pinned call button to connect to emergency services.
The intention is to provide quick safety in time of need; to quickly find and map a user to an open establishment. The simplicity of the app makes it possible for quick, reliable decisions to inform a user of possible safety.
Safe spot started as an idea during a Tech for Good Hackathon. The idea’s foundation is that despite leaps of changes and advancement in society, technology, safety, infrastructure, etc., many certain groups of induvial experience almost no advancements of safety at night. In conversations with other women, it seems to be a universal experience to feel left unprotected and vulnerable in the evening. Often times, women are told, both directly or indirectly, that if anything happens to them, they are the one at fault for not thinking about taking the nescessary precautions in advance. Many times we hear to buddy up with a partner for the night, give friends who are home your locations for the evening, and the list goes on. The resulting message is that women are not welcome to be in public spaces during certain hours or under certain conditions. A reminder of the women’s curfew in London, March 2021 due to a woman’s murder.
In effect, it seems to be that the only protection against dangerous situations is telling women to stay away from any environment that danger can be produced. The problem is that almost every environment can lead to danger and restricting women’s freedom of choice and movement is not the answer. This also does not give any allowance to individuals who have to work certain hours, who are left vulnerable without reliable transportation, who are left without housing, etc.
So, how to bridge the gap between freedom and safety while we wait for society and infrastructure to include vulnerable groups’ safety.
The idea’s motivation is that despite emerging technology and being surrounded by technology, women’s safety apps are still underdeveloped and a complicated issue to solve. Many visions for women’s safety apps are social apps that connect women with other women based on location and need. While this is a good sentiment, it has not been successful for several reasons. One, the applications rely on social engagement and, in effect, it relies on the coincidence that two women who use the app are both in the same area at the same time. Next, privacy and security concerns are to be considered. A social app for women to find safety can be easily socially hacked by the wrong people, rendering the app more dangerous than simply not using it.
Finally, our idea transforms into a functional app by using what is already available. Instead of building new social networks, our app moves back to basics and simplicity by using the infrastructure of what is already available. The app has two basic features.
- The app simply is meant to find the nearest open establishment(s) to one’s location at any given hour.
- In addition to finding the closest location, the app will have a pinned button to quickly call an emergency line or emergency contact.
- Outside of the two main features, the app has a hamburger menu that gives the user useful links for safety, including links to filing a police report, free self defense classes, and non-emergency numbers to contact.
The application takes advantage of simplicity for maximum effectivness.
- Simplicity with technology: Rather than inventing new strategies, we use the infrastrucutre of the city around the user to find safe spaces that could be open at specific times. Spots include: Restraunts, bars, hotels, hospitals, police stations, public transport hubs, and more. We access this information through the Google Maps and Places API.
- Simplicty with function: Two main features are presented. These two features are in the most important placements of the 'thumb zone'.
- Simplicity with colors: The green is meant to alert and bring quick attention to the important features. The color contrast adheres to accessibility guidelines.
How is this different than any other map technology?
Our app is simple. It has two large buttons (find nearest spot and contact emergency number) that are easy to press (in the thumb zone) and does not complicate finding safety. In google maps, it is easy to lose precious time finding opening and closing information for all the nearby establishments. Safe Spot will immediately plot and highlight them based on location.
Who is the app for?
The app started as an idea through the lens of women, but we would like to include any group of people who feel vulnerable.
How we built it
Our prototype is built with Figma. Following, we have a simple vanilla Java script app, that will be refractured in the coming weeks to include a framework. Our main source of data comes from the Google maps and Google places API. The Google API was chosen to give the most accurate and updated information available for the status of establishments in the user's city.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are incredibly impressed with the cohesion and collaboration that we experienced. Despite not knowing each other prior to the Hackathon, we felt almost like we have known each other for years. The process of jumping head first into an app, giving each other space to share ideas, and building each other up is what makes us proud of our application. We are very excited about the prototype that we developed. Perhaps it is because it is a silent experience that we could openly talk about that made us instantly ideate, agree upon, and quickly implement the features for the app.
What's next for Safe Spot
We plan to continue working on the application, not only for experience, but also because the application solves a problem that we unfortunately personally experience throughout our lifetime. We also see the value to extend the app to other women, to give women a new safety tool for security when walking home at night, that can maybe be a step in the direction to replace the pair of keys strategically placed between the knuckles. We will reach out to some previous project team mates to join the project.
Challenges we ran into
Only time was the challenge. If time were not a problem, we could have used a framework. But, as we are all new to map technology, the time instead was focused on learning the Google maps API and library.
What we learned
- How to use the Google API and use the Google Maps Library
- How to ideate and plan for an app in a multidisciplinary team, with members who are just meeting each other, in just two days.
- Learning from each other
- Since each of us was experienced in a different field we could share our knowledge and learn from each other
We are Stephanie, Kati, and Stevie with a project that started as an idea during a Tech for Good Hackathon.
Stevie: I just finished the Data Science with Python Track via TechLabs - but the learning continues. This is the first Hackathon I’ve ever been part of. It was an absolutely fun experience, which showed me that tech can bring people together in the nicest ways. I am looking forward to further work on this and other impactful projects.
Stephanie: I am passionate about giving a platform of empowerment to anyone who does not benefit directly from the structures in our society. I discovered that through technology, people's voices can be amplified, collaboration is possible, we can learn from each others experiences, and to never be comfortable with our own privileges, but to instead use the privilege we have to support others who don't. I am continuously motivated to build and learn with technology.
Kati: I am still new in the world of tech, UX/UI in particular, and this was my very first hackathon ever. I was nervous but mostly excited and motivated because both the topic, Tech for Good, and the project idea really spoke to me. It feels so rewarding to create something, especially if it is born out of wanting to make a positive impact, no matter how small.