Mayor Kenney's dream app is a tool for reporting street harassment - Technical.ly Philly

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Feb. 25, 2016 12:02 pm

Mayor Kenney’s dream app is a tool for reporting street harassment

Who wants to build it?

"I am so sick of street harassment."

(Photo by Joseph Gidjunis for the City of Philadelphia)

We were sitting in the mayor’s office last month and talking about civic apps when Mayor Kenney said, “You know what I really want?”

Do tell, Mayor.

“I am so sick of street harassment,” he said. “I see it and I scold it and I hate it.”

That’s why Kenney’s dream app is one that lets women map and report street harassment.

Here’s what he envisions: the app could allow users to “surreptitiously take that creep’s picture” and put him on blast. Maybe cops could use the data to deploy enforcement to corners that have particularly high incidences of the practice.

“It would be really empowering for women,” he said.

We didn’t have a chance to tell the Mayor (his press secretary Lauren Hitt had invited us to talk to the Mayor and Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski about the administration’s dedication to open data, so we had other questions to attend to), but at one time, Philly had a startup that was working on exactly that. They were called Safecity and were here from India, as part of the city’s FastFWD social enterprise accelerator. The two women behind the company have since left the city, unfortunately.

Another local group working on street harassment prevention and awareness is Feminist Public Works, which has its roots as a local chapter of international anti-street harassment movement Hollaback! (Feminist Public Works split from Hollaback! last year.) We reached out to the crew to see what the latest with them was. We loved the 2014 Ignite Philly talk from Feminist Public Works’ leaders Rochelle Keyhan and Anna Kegler, a content marketer at RJMetrics. Watch it here.

So, any other takers to build Kenney’s dream app?

Because, as he put it, “you should be able to ride your bike down the street without having some guy take his hand out the window and smack you in the butt. That’s inappropriate.”

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“Eloquently put,” Hitt said.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became Technical.ly's associate editor after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

  • Erin Cochran

    I’m not sure how often updates are made to this, but Hollaback launched an app for something along these lines a few years ago: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hollaback/id379866261?mt=8

    It doesn’t include any way to report incidents to law enforcement, though. Currently it’s just meant as a way for people to share their experiences and potentially warn others about areas where this happens frequently. Good place to start, however!

  • Jade

    Safety has been one of my biggest concerns. Please let me know how to join the team and help to create this app.

  • atiba1997

    Sounds awesome but a 66 year old woman should also be able to ride her bike down the street without some idiot in a car yelling curses & shooting her the finger as well. How about a reporting app for that? Tweeting PPD & Philly 311 & PPA & #unblockbikelanes & @PhillyMayor do nothing.

  • Adam Lang

    Can you use it to report John Dougherty?

    • The Guy Next Door

      I believe only if you are a non union woman

  • http://www.clichegames.com Anthony
  • http://zfeldman.com Zach Feldman

    Mayor Kenney’s dream for an app to fight street harassment is coming true at The New York Code + Design Academy! Two coding bootcamp students are helping to empower women and build awareness of street harassment with their own app, Street-Report. Check it out at Street-Report.com.

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