Analysis

Fuelling citizen power and tech to create safer cities for all

30th July 2019
Anna Flockett

A powerful combination of citizen power and smart technology is revolutionising street safety in London through a partnership between tech start-ups, Safe & The City, the street-smart safety app and what3words, the innovative new addressing technology.  

Utilising the inbuilt navigation technology, crowdsourced information and police risk data of the Safe & the City mobile app integrated with the unique three word address system of what3words, citizens can share their experiences, connect to police services and help to strengthen relationships with communities, ultimately reducing victims of opportunistic crimes and sexual harassment.

what3words is a global digital addressing system, having divided the world into a grid of 3x3m squares, and assigning each one a unique three word address - made for three words from the dictionary. For example, one of the best views over London can be found at ///single.glow.most on Hampstead Heath.

In London this is already happening successfully as Safe & the City users share and report incidents and rate walks in real time to alert other users and create safer routes. With the combination of the rapid response time created by the 3 word address system, what3words, incidents of street crime such as sexual harassment can be pinpointed quickly to keep communities safe while also increasing confidence in the police.

Strengthening this collaboration to create safer cities, a partnership with UN Women UK is also pledging safer cities through a pilot research project, UK Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces. The project uses Safe & the City’s street-smart navigation technology to provide powerful data needed to inform and recommend true meaningful changes for women and girls. 

Safe & the City is also working closely with the Mayor of London’s Women’s Night Safety Charter, part of the Mayor’s Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and London’s commitment to the UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces global initiative.

In a further significant partnership, what3words has speeded up the response time of the emergency services, many of whom now use the 3 word address system to help find callers in difficult or remote locations. what3words allows multiple emergency responders across various “blue light” services (police, fire, ambulance, etc.) to communicate locations verbally between each other without resorting to complex GPS coordinates.

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 to deliver more accurate means to send and receive information when entering into specific areas. Through our integration we can offer what3words users a safer way to navigate to their precise 3 word address. Our newest product adapted to work within densely populated events, like festivals and spectator sports, would be a challenge without a product like what3words. 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.” 

Jane Stephenson Emergency Services Marketing, what3words said: “Through our partnership with Safe & the City we are offering an entirely new and safer way to navigate. By using the app, users can not only make informed, safer decisions on their route based on crowdsourced data, but navigating to a 3 word address means they’ll arrive at specifically the correct point - first time, every time. On the other hand, the what3words app, which people are able to use to find their exact location in an emergency - is helping give emergency services and the partners they work with around the UK incredibly effective information for both response, and prevention.”

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