New App Measures ‘Sketchiness’ In City Areas

If you’re walking alone at night, at least now you’ll know where the creepers are. A new app, developed by two twenty-something New Yorkers, measures the sketchiness of city neighborhoods and lets you know if you’re wandering into a dangerous part of town. Sound convenient?

The ‘SketchFactor’ app is based off users’ impressions of various city areas, on a sketchiness scale of 1-5.

According to the SketchFactor website, “You can report weird—such as a bizarre discovery or strange encounter—or dangerous—potentially harmful situations—to the app. You can also share pro tips about what routes you take and why.”

While this can be a useful tool for those planning to walk around shady places at night, it can also be misleading. All it takes is one jittery user out for a midnight stroll to freak out and rate a place as “Level 5 Sketchy,” even if there’s nothing wrong with the place. One of the features on the app allows users to offer dissenting opinions on whether or not an area is really “sketchy” or not, but there is still a problem. If one user rates a place as a “Level 4” and someone else says it’s a “Level 2,” then even if it really is a somewhat safe “Level 2,” I’m still probably going to avoid that area.

Co-founder and CEO Allison McGuire says she developed SketchFactor because when living in a big city — like New York — it can be really scary not to know what’s safe or what isn’t.

“I launched SketchFactor because I was sick of getting caught in seemingly sketchy places and not knowing where to go,” McGuire says on the SketchFactor website. “When my friends – many of which are young women – shared their similar experiences, I realized there was a way to answer the questions: What streets can I explore? What corners should I avoid? I knew there was a way to harness those experiences in a valuable way.”

The Huffington Post seems to think this app will open the floodgates to racial discrimination, sexism, and bigotry, because users can “judge” how creepy they think the average joe is on the street. But that’s not really the point of the app — the point of the app is to keep people safe from real dangers in urban areas.

“SketchFactor is serious about creating a product that partners with local organizations to improve communities,” the website says.

The app is available in the Apple Store and is coming soon to Google Play.

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