MyWay – helping women students walk home safely after a night out in Reading

I’m delighted to say that Thingitude has been awarded a grant from Thames Valley Berkshire Smart Cities Cluster to develop and deliver a live trial of a system that aims to help women students walk home safely.

This project is the brainchild of our most recent team member, Traecy Elezi. She surveyed around 50 women students at the University of Reading and uncovered a problem we are excited to help tackle.

Three quick facts:

  1. So far this year there have been over 2,500 violent or sexual crimes reported to Police in Reading.
  2. It is estimated that only 8% of these crimes ever get reported to the Police, so the real number is likely to be much higher.
  3. Reading is one of the safer university towns/cities in the UK.

A Facebook group was set up last year, for women students in Reading to arrange to walk home in pairs or groups rather than alone. It has 3,000 members which indicates that women students work to keep themselves safe. Traecy’s survey explored the steps women take to ensure their safety in more depth, and it was these findings that informed our project.

We want to work with a group of around 6 women students to co-design an app (working title – MyWay) that will give the user an at-a-glance view of their journey home – with relevant and up to date safety info such as: well-lit v dimly lit roads, the number of other people about, active troublespots in town, whether a street has lively happy noise, or “angry” noise to avoid.

The initial idea for the app – but have we got it right?

We are designing sensors that will be installed on every street in the town centre and out towards the university area, and these will feed the app regular updates to make sure the information presented to the user is recent and meaningful.

Initial thoughts are to cover the town centre and out towards the University area

If you are a woman student at the University of Reading and want to have a say in what the MyWay app should do, how it should look, what areas to cover, or if you have a better name than MyWay then we would love to hear from you! It is important that our design group is representative of the student population at large.