My response the the UK Government back app designed to make the streets safer for women and girls
I am writing this blog post as a response to the UK Government backed app – Path Community – which is currently being trialled by 500 people, including Met Police Officers, in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.
The not-for-profit app is designed using the technology already installed on most smartphones, so it basically provides anyone making a journey by foot at night a ‘monitored route‘ . Apparently, if the user deviates from their planned route by 40 metres or more or is stationary for 3 minutes then their nominated ‘guardians‘ are contacted. They, in turn, try to make contact with the individual concerned, and if they can’t they have the option to call the police. There are other features too – including sharing anonymised data with local authorities to pinpoint areas of potential cause for concern – but this is it in a nutshell.
On the surface this app might sound like a great idea, but if you scratch a little deeper you will see that it’s nothing we don’t already do as women to keep ourselves safe – text during our journey and when we get home, share our locations, wear bright clothing and turn our door keys into a makeshift knuckle duster etc. What it doesn’t do is address the issue and the real reason why women and girls don’t feel safe on the streets of the UK, male violence. Not to mention that if we look at this app from a domestic abuse stand point for a second, suddenly a so called safety app becomes a tracking device for an abuser.
Clearly the app has come about following the senseless and grotesque murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, to mention but two, both as a result of male violence – the latter at the hands of a serving Metropolitan Police Officer . But sadly this app or any others in the pipeline developers, doesn’t absolutely nothing in the fight to make the streets of the UK safer for women. In fact I would go as far as to say that it really isn’t required and appears to be a cheap governmental ‘fix’ to be seen to be doing something; when in actual fact focus should be on what needs to be done, addressing male violence against women.
Whilst the developer Harry Read acknowledges the fact that it’s not the answer to the problem, he does believe that the app is something that can be implemented immediately in an effort to make the user feel safe.
Unfortunately, not everything in this world can be solved by the digital miracle, and certainly not male violence against women. I’m not painting every man with the same brush, but sadly, as with everything, the minority make it bad for everyone else.
Ultimately, we can only reach safety for women on the streets of the UK with a collaborative effort and participation from various (stakeholder) organisations .
I will leave you with a comment by Anna Birley from Reclaim the Streets set up after the murder of Sarah Everard, who called the app insulting to women and girls,
“It still isn’t enough. Women and girls, and the steps that we take to stay safe every day, are not the problem. The problem is that male violence makes us unsafe.”
Source article from the Guardian website.