Economy

Tech startup takes on city safety

Three people standing together on stage, one is holding a certificate.

We’re sending one of Melbourne’s top startups to Indonesia to help globalise its plan to make cities safer using crowdsourced data.

She’s A Crowd – a winner of our latest Open Innovation Competition – invites women and non-binary people to report their experiences of feeling unsafe through an anonymous digital storytelling platform.

The stories are geotagged, timestamped and aggregated, and the insights shared with key decision-makers to help them create safer cities.

When Zoe Condliffe began to share her experiences of gender-based violence, many other people came forward to share their stories.

This sparked Zoe’s interest in storytelling as a tool to help victims heal and process trauma, and feel less alone.

Did you know
People have shared more than 96 million stories about sexual harassment and assault on Twitter in the past eight years. However, more than 80 per cent of victims don’t report sexual assault.

Inspired by the 1960s feminist liberation movement, when women met up to share their experiences of sexual assault and sexism, Zoe set out to digitise this process and provide the data to people in power.

‘I want She’s A Crowd to be the biggest spatial dataset for the prevention of gender-based violence in five years’ time,’ Zoe said.

‘You can’t fix a problem if you don’t understand it. Technology offers us the opportunity to make cities safer using an empowerment model rather than a paternalistic or surveillance model.

‘Women are already engaging with it – we’ve seen this with movements such as #MeToo – and all She’s A Crowd is doing is harnessing that engagement for real geospatial data to inform real change.’

Indonesia is predicted to be the world’s fifth largest economy by 2030, and it is an important trading partner for us in sectors such as technology, science and innovation.

With a young and tech-savvy population, Bandung is one of Indonesia’s top three smart cities and we are actively building on our relationship with the city to create more opportunities for Melbourne businesses.

The Open Innovation Competition was a great opportunity to tap into the creativity and expertise of both cities to solve common challenges. International prizes were awarded to both She’s A Crowd and Indonesian startup Avion.

Avion has created a device that can convert the noise from vehicle horns into vibration to increase security for hearing impaired drivers and motorcyclists. The team will visit Melbourne soon to gather insights about how this could work in our city.

Zoe is looking forward to meeting with stakeholders in Bandung in September and exploring the market potential to launch She’s A Crowd in south-east Asia.

‘It is wonderful to see such interest from the Bandung City Council, university sector and consul general,’ Zoe said.

‘It means we are on the right track to helping cities all over the world practice gender mainstreaming, and make their cities safer and more liveable for women.

‘I am looking forward to spending time with the people in Bandung, engaging in conversation around gender-equality and technology, and connecting with women to chat about their experiences of safety in the city.’

Zoe designed She’s A Crowd as a global platform and believes it is key for the tool to speak to women and non-binary people from all different backgrounds, geographies and lived experience.

‘We all have the right to feel safe moving around our cities, our homes, our schools and workplaces. We need to feel safe as a baseline so we can thrive and access opportunities equally,’ Zoe said.

‘My vision is that every single woman, anywhere in the world, has the chance to share her story and that story can be used by people in power to inform how we address this problem into the future.’

To find out more about our innovative relationships with Indonesia and China, visit Lord Mayor showcases startups in Asia.

For more information about our work to support entrepreneurs and startups to grow and go global, visit Startups and innovation.

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