Common sense dictates that you shouldn't distract yourself by talking on your phone or listening to music when you're walking alone through a potentially dangerous area. But a new smartphone app encourages its predominately female clientele to call its number whenever they feel insecure, even if it's multiple times a day.
Women who sign up for Streetsafe, which starts at $19.99 a month (see below for other pricing plans and a Jezebel discount), can call the company's trained security advisers 24/7, no questions asked. Streetsafe offers two services: "Walk With Me," billed as a personal safety escort service, and "Silent Alarm." The latter is self explanatory — if you're not able to call 911 yourself, slide a red button and StreetSafe will do it for you, using your GPS data to contact your local police station — but the former feature is really what makes the app stand out. "Imagine walking alone, or in an uncomfortable environment, but nothing has happened, so you can't call 911. Walk with Me connects the user to a live Safety Advisor who will stay on the phone with you and keep you alert until you get to your destination safely," says their website. If the situation becomes more dangerous, Streetsafe will contact 911, but the officials I spoke with said that hasn't actually happened since they launched last August. Instead, most StreetSafe customers use the service on a regular basis, as a precaution.
"I've always been a proponent of being being proactive when it comes to your own safety," said Marcia Peot, a full-time police officer and Chief Safety Officer at StreetSafe."We want people to use our service as much as possible. You can call literally every single day." Every single day? But what if a customer's concerns are irrational, or one worrywart takes up all of the phone lines? "We don't judge people," Peot said. "The fact is if they're calling, we're going to talk to them."
Most women who use the service are "young professionals," Peot said, or travel long commutes at late hours, like 42-year-old Deborah Potrawski, who was held up at gunpoint twelve years ago and hasn't felt comfortable walking alone since. "At first I felt a little weird about it," said Potrawski, who calls StreetSafe every day for the 5-10 minutes at the end of her two-hour commute that she has to walk alone. "I thought to myself, 'Can I really not walk by myself?' It seemed kind of silly. But this is my safety, that's first and foremost. If I feel more comfortable calling these people, why is that wrong?" Potrawski said the conversation is the same every evening: an officer will ask her to confirm her location and then quiz her about her surroundings, battery life, and overall emotional state. She's had some minor incidents while on the phone with StreetSafe — once she was briefly followed by two men in a car, for example — but nothing necessitating a 911 call."The majority of the time, nothing happens, but it gives me peace of mind," Potrawski said. "I don't have to fear walking by myself anymore."
Here's where you can find StreetSafe's pricing plan. For 15% off any plan, readers can visit www.streetsafe.com and use the promo code BESAFE. (Normal subscription prices are $19.99/month, $44.99/quarter, or $149.99/year, and there are also family and corporate plans available.) StreetSafe is available in the U.S. and Canada wherever there is cell phone service.
Image via elwynn/Shutterstock.