New app helps determine ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods
SketchFactor is now available in app stores. The app uses user data to determine the “sketchiness” of certain neighborhoods and areas.
Despite the fact that the racial makeup of an area will more than likely play a part in which areas are deemed “sketchy” by users, the app is a finalist for the NYC BigApps competition, and has been well-received.
SketchFactor, the brainchild of co-founders Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, is a Manhattan-based navigation app that crowdsources user experiences along with publicly available data to rate the relative “sketchiness” of certain areas in major cities. The app will launch on iTunes on Friday, capping off a big week for the startup, which was named as a finalist in NYC BigApps, a city-sponsored competition that promotes technologies designed to improve quality of life issues in New York City and government transparency.
According to Ms. McGuire, a Los Angeles native who lives in the West Village, the impetus behind SketchFactor was her experience as a young woman navigating the streets of Washington, D.C., where she worked at a nonprofit.
The founders are also prepping for potential complications from the app, which asks anonymous users to judge a neighborhood’s sketchiness as fear can be subjective.
The site could also be vulnerable to criticisms regarding the degree to which race is used to judge a neighborhood.
“We understand that people will see this issue,” Ms. McGuire told Crain’s. “And even though Dan and I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people. As far as we’re concerned, racial profiling is ‘sketchy’ and we are trying to empower users to report incidents of racism against them and define their own experience of the streets.”
Is SketchFactor just another version of racial profiling i.e. “sketch” being code for “black?”
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