We Are Watching Out For You
Where You At (WYA) is a new and free app launching in December that addresses safety in clubs. WYA is the brainchild of University of Oxford students Olivia Leigh and Tamzin Lent, two women tired of feeling intimidated and vulnerable on a night out - or just about any time at all.
Things don’t appear to have changed much even in the #metoo era.
On conducting a survey, Leigh and Lent were shocked, albeit not surprised, to discover that their own feelings of vulnerability in supposedly safe environments were overwhelmingly commonplace. A staggering 51% of 18-24 year old UK females experience sexual harassment on most or every ‘night-out’ (Drinaware, 2015). WYA (@whereyouatwya) have partnered with Save Night Life (@savenightlife) on Instagram to produce a resource that collects incidents and experiences of spiking. This creates a safe space for people to have their experiences recognised with nil evidence of the occurrence.
Young people frequently rely non instant communication to stay safe and confident. However, lack of signal and large volume capacity often make night-time venues an unsafe purgatory. The recent media focus on club goer vulnerability, such as the spiking by injection epidemic, has resulted in demands for more proactive safety. At present, venues have no well-recognised way to deter the sexually-motivated criminal. The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is not widely used and does not involve a tracking system. The majority of club goers would prefer to alert their friends in the case of an incident, rather than the venue. Police reports of such incidents are low as there is a difficulty in getting young people to report incidents, never mind an intoxicated clubber trying to persuade hard-pressed coppers on a late Saturday shift that, no, I don’t actually have witnesses, does not mean that a crime has been, is being and is about to be committed.
WYA tackles all of these barriers.
WYA harnesses the power of simple mobile tech to create closed-circuit groups - whether that’s best friends or university societies - to aid the group in staying in close and safe contact across saturated clubs and crowded festivals. In the WYA survey, 98% anxiously looked for friends on a night out. Leigh comments ‘After years of feeling vulnerable and anxious in clubs when constantly losing our friends, we decided to create a safety solution which uses indoor mapping, works without telco signal, and allows us to SOS friends we trust’. Sound a bit like a battlefield comms link for a squad out on patrol in hostile terrain? We hope not! But WYA is an app that is done with people feeling like hostages. The app is utilising the technology to help us do what we’ve always done for each other: look out. Now, we are telling predators: we’re watching out.
The predominant issue with club safety is that there is often no mobile signal in the venue due to physical constraints or overloaded bandwidth. WYA combats this, offering a WYA button Bluetooth solution whereby club-goers can track their friends, without mobile signal, to their exact location. This is done through the use of strategically positioned beacons installed by the WYA team at the venues, transmitting a blueprint to the app user’s phone. Alongside this precise indoor mapping, there is an SOS alert function, allowing users to contact their trusted circle via Bluetooth and send an alert with their exact location. Not only is this fantastic for club-goers, it is also beneficial to the venues themselves. Through the venue being associated with WYA, 98% of students in our survey said they would be more likely to: buy more drinks, stay for longer, and be more likely to revisit.
So far, WYA has seen much success. The app claimed the Downing Enterprise prize for ‘outstanding Pitch’ and has signed a formal Partnership agreement with the night-time industries trade body NTIA. This is a testament to the app’s potential future engagement. Currently, the app has a sub-system called WYA Writes, a community of all-female writers with the freedom to write about all things safety and club related.
WYA’s launch is much anticipated and should cause excitement. This is the first app of its nature, valuing safety, solving the issue of poor signal, and bringing together venues to aid in reform. It’s launch in December will revolutionise night-life experience, making it a much safer one.
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