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



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. 

Final Concept

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.



"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.


Primary Research

Secondary Research

Resident Interviews

Computer Supported Collaborative Work

Public Safety Statistics

Online Forums


Safety correlates with the fear of crime

Predominantly a
female issue

10% rise in crime
in Seattle

Safety based on unconscious bias

U-District is a "hotspot"

Residents sharing on /r/udub Reddit 


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.


NikeetaRecent Grad and University-District Resident

Attributes            Enjoys running on the Burke-Gilman Trail, 

Uses the busing system to ride to and from work

Goal                   Wants to walk safely from the bus stop to home

Pain Points        Fears being harmed in some way during her commute

Sandra, University Student and U-District Resident

Attributes            Volunteers off-campus, 

Enjoys eating on "the Ave"

Goal                  Wants to avoid unsafe areas around campus

Pain Points         Certain streets and routes are unfamiliar



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. 


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.



Destigmatizing Bias with Profiles

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

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. 


Main Use-Case Flow

Data Capture Flow


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. 



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


Quick Emergency Calls

Throughout this project, I slowly understood my community here at the University District and about residents' perceived safety in this area. Even though 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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