sketchfactor app

Controversial new app SketchFactor crowdsources urban safety by having its members report blocks that feel “sketchy” to them.

Such real-time reports allow members to discern best routes to walk to work, home or shopping. This peace of mind is especially important in major walking cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. But just as precious in Washington, D.C., Miami, New Haven, or Rome.

In fact, SketchFactor’s micro-reporting can help local leadership understand just where their “sketchy” areas are, block by block. So instead of declaring entire areas unsafe, residents get real-time observation.

Founders Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington have been criticized for being both young and white. But in fact, their new application resists stereotyping of geographic urban areas.

“I like the diversity of cities,” says SketchFactor founder McGuire. “I like the grit.”

And the new app has real-time significance for her. Says McGuire, “I lived in Washington D.C. and I was walking home after work. A woman stopped me and asked if I lived there. I said yes. She told me a woman had been beaten and mugged right here. She wanted me to know.”

People make decisions. A wrong turn. Things happen. Citizens of all kinds need to know how they can remain safe.

SketchFactor launched two weeks ago and has since become a runaway hit.

New York City is the first municipality, the world will follow.

For McGuire and her partner, the project has been a mission of both safety and specificity. A busting of urban stereotypes. Certainly there can be good blocks in bad neighborhoods?

McGuire crunches the question into a technological thesis: “How can we be hyper local and granular, in a social way?”