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How might we help women feel safe when walking around their neighborhoods?


September 16 - September 20, 2019 (1 week)


Product Designer


Ideation, Prototyping, Visual Design, Research


Zara Abraham, Gaby Chan

Product Overview

Women feel safer walking to their homes within their communities when utilizing Safely as a resource to easily share and rate safe zones while having quick access to first responders in emergencies.

Endorsing Safe Zones

Users can share and rate Safe Zone locations that are clean, bright, lively, and familiar, giving users the power to provide relevant feedback on the safety of the area.


Users have the option to reroute their trip to improve their overall perceived safety. This allows users to take better action in establishing themselves on a safer route.

Quick Emergency Calling

With the ability to contact PD for emergencies, this reassures users that if any threatening situation arises, they have the accessibility to reach out to first responders.



Without simple access incident reports, women resort to internet searches and forums to understand the level of safety in their neighborhoods. Understanding the critical pain point is safety concerns, my team and I worked through the design process to address this common issue. 



"Hey, Cheyenne, some neighborhoods can often make residents, especially female residents, feel unsafe in their community. How can we use crowd-sourced data to help us alleviate residents' perceived safety?"

Many women in the city of Seattle can feel unsafe when unfamiliar with their surroundings and the happenings of the community. Marked as a general "hotspot" for potential crimes, residents are unsure of which locations are safe or well-familiarized. 


When conducting formative research, we gathered a variety of data from interviews, statistics and academic writings to understand safety and how people perceive safety within Seattle. Our research focused on the University District population in Seattle, as participants were readily available. From the research, we concluded several key insights that reflect fear, unconscious bias, and crowd-sourcing information.



Secondary Research.

  • Seattle's public safety statistics reflect that... 

    • There has been a 10% rise in crime since 2018​

    • University District, home to the University of Washington and many of its residents, is considered a crime "hotspot"

  • Crowd-sourced safety information is shared within many different platforms, predominantly residents sharing on the /r/udub Reddit page

*"I feel unsafe if it's late out, hard to see people's faces, and I have to spend too long off the main road."

— University of Washington Resident

​Primary Findings.

  • Feeling unsafe walking around is predominantly a female issue

  • Safety is correlated with the fear of crime as all participants shared a fear of being harmed, attacked, or be passing by an unsafe area

  • People’s assessment of public safety is based on personal experience and unconscious bias


After conducting several initial interviews, we learned how women often are left walking alone and, or later in the evening and due have both goals and fears revolving around their safety.


College Students

NikeetaRecent Grad and University-District Resident


  • Enjoys running on the Burke-Gilman Trail

  • Uses the busing system to ride to and from work


  • Wants to walk safely from the bus stop to home

Pain Point

  • Fears being harmed in some way during her commute

College Students on Break

Sandra, University Student and U-District Resident


  • Volunteers off-campus

  • Enjoys eating on "the Ave"


  • Wants to avoid unsafe areas around campus

Pain Point

  • Certain streets and routes are unfamiliar


Sketch by me.

Sketch by me.


After we collected our data, we ideated several concepts we believed would motivate users to share and validate safety information. We selected the following ideas based on the value crowd-sourcing resources can be prioritized for our female users. 

Concepts - 1.png

Marking Safe Routes

Users earn points by marking, validating and walking along the safest routes their destination, avoiding unsafe areas and potential dangers.

Share Experience

Users give a detailed account of the incident and share this information with other users. In turn, residents have the opportunity
to validate the incident and offer support.

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Concepts - 3.png

Destigmatizing Bias with Profiles

Users create profiles for the homeless community so they may destigmatize past biases and remove the fear of unfamiliar people.

Sketch by me.

From these concepts, we figured the best option would be to merge the first and second concepts into one application. The ideas would utilize clear data translation, address a timely need, and would be easy to use based on maps. The third idea was not pursued for several reasons, more specifically because of its huge privacy and marginalizing concern. Moving forward on the collaborated concept, we then began creating a simplified journey for users to engage in a safe commute. 



Scoping our concept further, my team and I developed the first iteration roughly illustrating the user journey in these paper prototypes. We pushed forward the abilities to track your route, mark a safe zone, describe your experience, and provide feedback. 


Wireframe sketches by me.


Users would be able to search and set destinations to navigate through the route with the app asking for feedback about the safety of their journey.

Wireframe sketches by me.

Data Capture

As users finish their journey, they would be able to provide feedback and context of their journey so others can reference it to assess the safety of their route.

Usability Testing

Testing our rudimentary prototype, we heard many critiques from our participants that wanted more clarity without an extraneous response process. We found how their inputs required us to reassess the design experience to better respond to the challenge. 

Usability Testing


  • Some participants were confused by what were "Safe Zones" and how they were determined

  • Some participants found the process of submitting responses very drawn out

*"I don't understand the marked locations [...] I can't tell which one is the place I want to go to"

*"I am not a person to fill out surveys or write out a comment, and if it takes too long, I will definitely not do it at all"



When providing Seattle's women residents the ability to easily share and rate safe zones, reroute their directions, and also allow for quick first responder accessibility, Safely elevates women's perceived personal safety within their communities. Users then feel secure and confident on their journey towards home.


Endorse Safe Areas




Emergency Calls

Throughout this project, I slowly understood my community here at the University District and about residents' perceived safety in this area. Being only a week-long sprint, our project could be improved by several factors: first, utilizing more time to conduct research that would have better specified the needs; second, storyboarding the user journey may have helped in discovering the various pain points we could have missed; third, facilitating further usability tests with our updated prototype. Although, I feel my team had a successful outcome.

One thing I wish we considered is the implications this app would have in underprivileged communities and small businesses within those communities. Knowing this as a negative repercussion would have made us more mindful of our overall design challenge. For upcoming projects, I plan to mindful of other stakeholders and the consequences that may arise when designing a new product. 


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