It has been a very exciting time for MyWay, our personal safety app. Yesterday it was featured twice on BBC Radio Berkshire. Many thanks to Bridgitte Tetteh for some great questions, and to Ish Aa – RUSU Welfare Officer at the University of Reading for sharing her concerns as a young woman – skip to 46m30 secs on BBC Sounds:
I am delighted that MyWay is getting some attention in the media. Our involvement in Reading’s Safer Streets Partnership has helped raise its profile, and hopefully the extra publicity will help more people use it to feel safer when they are out and about, especially now it is getting dark so early.
If you live in Reading then you can use MyWay for free with this link. Just remember to tap your browser menu and add it to your home page.
MyWay is a free app that has been helping women students to feel safer in Reading for the last two years.
This year we’ve made MyWay available to everyone who lives in Reading, thanks in part to funding from Reading’s Safer Streets partnership.
The story behind the MyWay App
MyWay was the idea of Traecy, a trainee loT consultant working at Thingitude. In 2019 Traecy surveyed 50 women students at the University of Reading and realised that the safety of women students was an important problem to tackle. She wanted to help women university students be better informed and to feel safer, especially if walking alone.
With funding from the Thames Valley LEP, we worked with a small group of women from the University of Reading to help design the app and learn what the most useful features would be. Common concerns were knowing which streets were poorly or well-lit, which ones had other people on walking them, and knowing where any current trouble was going on.
Making Towns safer
We have installed sensors on every street in the town centre to give us accurate live data on how busy the streets are, and which ones are best lit at night. Reading is a relatively safe town, but even here, the town centre had over 2,000 incidents of a violent or sexual nature reported to the police last year. It is very difficult for anyone to know precisely where trouble might happen, however, with the MyWay app you can easily report trouble, and see places that can be avoided.
In May 2023 Lead Councillor for Community Safety Karen Rowland was asked about MyWay for local TV:
Every town wants to make sure that everyone is safe and having a good time especially when they are enjoying local entertainment, bars and restaurants. MyWay gives people a way to help themselves and their friends feel safer and be better informed when they are out in town.
Want to know more about the MyWay app:
If you live in Reading you can find all the information about getting the app and its features on our Instagram account:
If you are located in another town, we’d love to show you how to help your town become safer for everybody. Please contact us now!
Last month I was asked to give a talk for the British Computer Society. With half the audience in the room and half online it presented some interesting challenges for a live presentation. A swift rehearsal the night before helped iron out the wrinkles in our tech setup. Thanks to Simon Morris (of Reading Geek Night fame) and Chris Todd-Davies (BCS) for their help.
BCS asked for a longer talk than I would typically give at a meetup, so I used a couple of videos in the talk to help keep it fresh and give people a break from my voice. Thanks to Mike for making a video about an allotments project we’ve been doing with a local town council. I particularly like this because it shows how an idea born from a community project can grow. The other video is the highlights reel for the Thames Valley Berkshire Smart City Network (aka SmartBerks) which covers all the challenges they set for local businesses to address.
Here’s the video of the talk. The talk itself lasts just over an hour, and is then followed by about half an hour of good questions from the audience.
We want to get students involved in the conversation around improving student safety. They are the experts in when they feel unsafe and what might help students feel safer when they are out at night with friends or on their own.
Crowd-sourcing ideas feels like a good approach, so we are hosting a conversation for students to vote on statements other people have made about student safety, and share their own point of view. We will run this conversation throughout April, and then share our findings in a report in May. Please join in – the more the merrier. You can take part right here:
TL;DR – feedback from students has been built into the new version of MyWay. Key changes include the ability to report incidents of drink spiking, and a more intuituve and faster user experience.
Our student safety app (MyWay) has been co-designed with groups of women students from the University of Reading over the past 3 years, and we have just released a new version which incorporates feedback from this year’s Freshers.