Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder of Safe and the City explains how software and AI can help people feel safer when using the transport network
Most people think of Safe & the City as just an app, but that isn’t the full picture. There’s more behind our technologies, what drives our team and mission to change the world for the better. When you think of a better future, be it one year, 5-years or-10 years from now, does it feel safer? Of course, it does. It must be, otherwise, we wouldn’t say it’s an improvement from today. Safety is implied, a given. But this way of thinking is problematic. We can only create that type of future if we actively understand, learn and work towards that vision.
Safe & the City is led by our mission and vision for a better and safer future. We started with Safe & the City’s navigation app that reflects the areas of safety during travel that are mainly preventative and have been missed. Whether it is sexual harassment, misogyny or LGBTQ+ hate crimes, these gaps in knowledge we don’t collect insights on, measure and improve, won’t ever change.
“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
Our freedom of movement is predicated on our beliefs to feel and be safe in this country. For example, when we leave home to catch our bus to the tube station to work, we expect it will be safe. We know there has been a lot of thought, development, and learnings to reflect the current safety standards, such as how we created the rules of the road, vehicle manufacturing requirements, the bus drivers’ training, and installed CCTV to reduce crimes, to name a few. When departing from a tube station, we can appreciate the array of public safety considerations to move millions of people – the engineering of a train, the wider network operations, staff training and even a dedicated transport police force (BTP). While each of these physical components is different, all aspects need to work together in unison to get people safely to where they need to be.
But what about the software that helps us move through each of these transport systems, even when on our own two feet? That is a completely different story. Software technologies and apps move more people than any-one transport system. And at large have zero consideration of people’s safety, no regulations to set a higher bar and little market incentive to change. However, individuals are waking up that technologies need to do more. Consider how much we relied on technology to support us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Software technologies that helped keep our distance, know congestion periods on transport and anonymously get notified if we came into contact with an infected person. We have limitless opportunities if we can leverage technology to innovate around problems, set higher expectations of user privacy, and physical and psychological safety and strive toward making the overall experience positive. Not to exploit people, but to lift, better understand and learn how mobility products can make every journey better for everyone.
Safe & the City’s i3 Intelligence AI provide ‘just in time information’ to contextualise what’s ahead, giving people moving through the risks of the real world, the advantage of the time to respond and seek help when necessary. We all need safety, no matter who we are and where we want to go.
Times are changing fast. We’re accelerating into new challenges of the 2020s- the cost of living crisis, economic downturns, civil unrest, strikes and protests, crimes and fear. We can watch as the existing systems to move people fail without meeting the realities of the digital age, or embrace technology as one of uniting forces, that helps move us into a new way of thinking, designing and putting people’s right to be safe first.
This is the future we’re building. Starting with Safe & the City navigation app, evolving into i3 Intelligence AI and working with partners to think differently and have safety be a part of their competitive edge now and in the future.
Software technologies can help save lives, shape a better tomorrow and unlock endless possibilities when people’s right to move safely is top of mind. We look forward to being a part of the journey at Highways UK conference for those that see that future too.