This is not an app that has millions of users or is on the list of chart busting apps. But the people using Phree found it invaluable. There is an app that allows users to identify safe rooms in a city, currently Delhi, based on crowd-sourced data, and there are a number of users that they find useful enough to carry on your phone .
The app was developed by filmmaker Madhureeta Anand. There is a story behind every idea, and the Phree app has one too.
Madhureeta was walking in Gurgaon that evening when she was physically attacked by a stalker. The incident marked her for a lifetime, but instead of letting her fears take over her thoughts, she began to wonder if there was anything that could have helped women and all those who are around town.
The Phree app was created some time later. The app uses crowd-sourced data, which is essentially user input, to rate public spaces.
Commenting on how the app works, Madhureeta says, “With Phree For Safety, users can rate facilities like cafes, gyms, restaurants, parks and public places like streets. After you rate it as safe or unsafe, you can leave a rating. The ratings are then displayed on a real-time map. Blue is safe, red is unsafe, and gray is unchecked. “
The app then prompts its users to be near an area marked as unsafe. They are also asked to rate a place they are visiting.
While the Phree app sounds promising, the likelihood of inconsistencies associated with the app cannot be ignored. Experiences are subjective and cannot be the same for everyone. There is a chance that a certain location may not feel safe to a woman after sunset, but the same location can be marked as safe by a woman in the afternoon.
“Our app is user driven, so users determine what is safe and what is unsafe. Security is personal and dynamic. Nobody else can determine security parameters for a person. However, we have a comments section where users give their reasons for rating something safe or unsafe. Over time, these reasons will become clear and then we will list the main reasons. Both for these reviews and for those who access the reviews, ”Madhureeta adds.
Some filters are built into the app to keep out distortions and authentic ratings. Madhureeta says people can only rate a street or area once. You can change your rating, but you cannot rate it more than once.
Many women find the app useful. In Delhi, many members of the transgender community who are exposed to violence and prejudice also find the app useful. “The transgender community has had tough times due to COVID. They go to new areas and try to make a living. It brought them into conflict with other people. They use this app to let other transgender people and women know which areas are safe for them and which are not. For example, there are some parks that have been classified as unsafe, ”says Madhureeta.
The app has received some downloads from the Google Play Store, but it seems that more people need to know about it in order for it to work more effectively. After all, more users mean more data about the places. Madhureeta and her team have partnered with communities, colleges, organizations and institutions so that people can use the app. You have worked with 150 such institutes and communities.
“When we feel that we have a solid foundation of ratings, we will step up our marketing efforts,” she says. At the moment, there seems to be a plan to find safe and unsafe spaces in our cities one by one.