The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality announced on Sunday that it has launched SafeUP, a new smartphone app to allow women and girls to feel safer in public spaces.
It can be downloaded here.
SafeUP, which just completed a successful three-month soft launch, will enable any female resident of Tel Aviv to instantly connect to a citywide network of local communities of specially trained women if they encounter any real or potential danger and require support, guidance or physical assistance in a public space.
The network of women, called "guardians," is made up of dozens of specially trained women, available 24/7 to assist via telephone, video, or even by personal accompaniment.
The app is based on advanced social network technology that, according to the municipality, enables it to ensure the anonymity and privacy of users' information.
It currently features three potential solutions for women who feel unsafe in a public space.
The first, "walk and talk," enables women to find support through a phone conversation with a guardian when they feel uncomfortable or insecure in public.
The second solution on the app is called "help now." It is designed for situations where a user finds herself in real and immediate danger, connecting her to three different women within 500 meters who can evaluate the situation and decide whether to arrive at the scene or call the police.
The final option in the app is a "share location" feature, which lets the app share users' live location with a list of women previously chosen by the user.
The app is expected to significantly shorten response times and assist women, even in cases where there is no need for police intervention.
It was developed at CityZone, a living smart city laboratory at Tel Aviv's Atidim Park innovation hub - a joint initiative by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and Tel Aviv University to advance technological solutions for urban challenges and promote smart city start-ups.
Neta Schreiber, CEO & co-founder of SafeUP, says on the app's website that she was inspired to found the company following an incident she experienced at a house party approximately nine years ago.
After noticing that one of her friends had gone missing, Schreiber and her friends began frantically looking around the villa for her, eventually finding her half-naked and fighting off several men, who immediately fled the scene.
Schreiber, now a young mother, called on additional women to be part of the guardian community in a statement on Sunday, "to enable me, you, our daughters and every woman to feel safe in every place; to walk down a dark alleyway without fear; to go on a date without anxiety and a rescue plan; to go dancing in a nightclub, or even to simply go on a walk late at night."
Efrat Makin-Knafo, Head of the Resilience & Social Equality Authority and mayoral advisor for gender equality at the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, said on Sunday that the launch was "another step in the municipality's wide-ranging initiatives to promote gender equality in general, and to advance the personal security of women in particular.
"We are using all the tools at our disposal so that every woman in Tel Aviv-Yafo will feel that the public space is adapted for her – from personal security to sports, recreation and leisure facilities, she said. "This is a strategic goal, and its realization will be reflected in many sectors across the city."