New app to track friends’ journeys wins Home Office backing in bid to protect women

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This anonymised information is then stored in the cloud to create a “heat map” identifying the “hotspots” that people using the app agree are potentially unsafe. It is intended this data could help councils and police tackle such hotspots with improved street lighting, security or patrols.

There are plans to build into the database a serial number that can be given to police by a nominated guardian that would allow police to access data on a potential victim’s last 60 minutes of movements, current location and a missing person’s profile.

Mr Mead said the use of guardians – whom individuals can nominate as well as an emergency contact if none of the guardians are available to be monitors – was designed to act as a filter to prevent police being overloaded by calls every time there was a significant deviation by a user from a route.

There will be concerns from campaign groups that such technology only deals with the symptoms of street harassment rather than getting to the root of the problem.

However, Nicola Keaney, a media executive involved in trialling the app, said hardly a day passed without her suffering some incident of abuse or unwelcome sexual comment. “Using it makes me feel safer, like someone is watching and keeping an eye on me,” she said.

“Other apps with live location means someone has to be sitting there watching you as you go. The thing about this is that you can put it on, and it effectively does its job in the background but if something happens, it will ping someone.”

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