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This app puts safety first

Madhureeta Anand   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A scary incident two years ago, pushed filmmaker Madhureeta Anand to work on her latest creation: Phree, an app that lets users rate places for safety.

Madhureeta had stepped out for an evening walk in Gurgaon. “It wasn’t very dark. I chose to walk on wide, reasonably lit streets with houses,” she says. Still, a man followed and attacked her. “I was aware of him staring at me. I was alert. I tried changing the streets. Still, he assaulted me. When I screamed and hit him back, he ran away.

“When I complained to the police, I was told not to walk out alone in the evening.” Madhureeta was angered by this response. “I told myself ‘society takes zero responsibility for my safety’. Then, I thought about the tens and thousands of women who go through this every day.”

The numbers in the National Crime Record Bureau’s (NCRB) Crime in India 2019 report substantiates Madhureeta’s concern. According to the report, crimes against women increased from 3,78,236 cases in 2018 to 4,05,861 cases in 2019.

When she looked for safety apps, she says, “All I could find were SOS apps, which were good but not enough. It’s useful during emergencies, when the incident has either already happened, or is about to happen. I wanted an app that could prevent danger.”

This app puts safety first
 

With the help of a friend from Silicon Valley, she built Phree last year. Its users can rate a specific building or entire areas from the map for safety. They can also describe the reason for their rating. Unsafe places are marked red, the safe ones in blue and the unrated places in grey. The app also has an SOS feature.

Adds Madhureeta, “Many of our users are transgenders. Safety is a broad term; it can’t be reduced to one group of people. For instance, a street was rated unsafe because there were bulls attacking passersby. All these things are taken into account.”

The app, so far, has just over a thousand users. But Madhureeta is confident of more people using it. “We are in talks with authorities like the Police Department among others for a tie-up.”

The app is on Google Play Store and App Store.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 1:45:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/phree-app-puts-safety-first/article33012211.ece

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