OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

A Woman Whistles, Community Listens

Safety whistles have been used for personal protection for a long time. Current technology provides a high volume safety whistle emitting 122Db ear-piercing shriek at under $7.00 in US (no battery required) with basic whistle available for under $2.00. In a densely populated area, there should be enough people who can hear and be able to recognize a distinct distress signal (just like the car alarm sound). If law-enforcement officials and neighbors know a particular distress signal, they can come to the rescue. Additionally, a victim may startle the perpetrator and gain valuable time to run away. A battery-operated button whistle is slightly more costly but can be designed so that it is not easily turned off by the attacker.

Photo of Natalia Levina
5 22

Written by

This is a very simple old idea - safety whistle. Cheapest whistles are under $2.00.  If one can design a cheaper version of a more advanced whislte ( that would have a unique distinguished sound, one can then educate community members and law-enforcement officials to recognize and respond to the distress signal.  In addition, for some more affluent urban areas where batteries are affordable, a button operated whistle that emits the signal continuously even if the attack has started is a better option. Furthermore, in more tech savvy/affluent areas, a wi-fi signal can be sent to a police station.  A whistle could be worn on the neck, key chain, or a bangle. 

Explain your idea in one sentence.

A victim would wear a nicely designed safety whistle producing a particular, easily distinguishable, high volume distress signal that would be recognized by community members and law-enforcement personnel who would come to the rescue.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Help victims send a distress signal as well as surprise their attacker with a loud sound allowing for some extra time to run away. As a teenage girl in Eastern Europe, I was under the threat of an assault on a quiet street late at night. I recall my biggest fear was not being able to scream loudly enough for others to hear my distress, and also for those who heard me to know whether my scream was meaningful and how to respond. I was lucky enough to get myself out of this dangerous situation. Whistles can be used in low-tech areas and by children as well. I hope others do not have to worry about not screaming loudly enough.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

All people who can be attacked in a densely populated area where community mechanisms for responding to a distress signal exists or could be created.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

Any humanitarian organization able to distribute whistles and educate community members about responding to distress signals.

Where should this idea be implemented?

Mumbai, India

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

- Pick a small community and purchase some ready made whistles like this one for the pilot. ( or this whistle has some special offers for charities: ) - Educate community members on what the distress sound is like and how to help the victim (e.g., get a group of strong people to run and help, call law enforcement, etc.). -Educate women how to use the whistle and use the surprise factor created by the sound to run away. - If the pilot works, work on designing affordable whistles that are also attractive to wear.


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Brilliant idea. You can as well see the idea I developed: can look for means of also involving men too in your project.

View all comments