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So after ruminating for a bit, I'm thinking the best approach might be kind of a combo. I really liked the original idea that included having pool "stations" at public places like bus stops, etc. But that of course would make routes very vulnerable to attack. So what if a distinctive box/sign/station of some sort were developed and located at all sorts of public places like bus stops, street corners, shops, and so on. On those public stations would be some sort of map or list that gives the nearest pool signup. And those signup locations would be managed by someone - i.e. not public: a shopkeeper, a neighborhood center, a community volunteer. I don't think it would necessarily have to be a woman, just as long as the person involved was trustworthy or vetted properly.

And to that badge idea that has been added to the mix - I also think that in addition to pins that people wear on the street, you could have stickers with the same design and color that go in storefront windows where the community has agreed to participate and be a safe haven. That would also potentially mark "pool signup" locations for women passing by.

I love this idea and I think it's got really strong potential to work in a variety of communities! It's useful across boundaries actually - for both low-income and middle-income areas. But the one thing I immediately notice is the risk involved with describing a woman's route in a publicly accessible place. It would be critical to develop some way of ensuring that the routes and women looking for travel companions didn't end up being targeted specifically for crime - especially if, for instance, they weren't able to find another woman at the pool for their route.

I'll be thinking on this issue and post back if I come up with any ideas to resolve it!

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Anastacia commented on How a simple clipboard can impact safety on the street

Also, can you elaborate at all on why you felt more secure with a young child with you? I do think having the responsibility for the safety of another (especially children) can help to shift one's perspective away from fear and more towards proactive protection, but was there another element to it for you and your travel companion? Was it tied to the cultural protections extended to children in the area? And did it being a boy specifically make a difference for you?