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Safe City London website aims to increase safety for women, girls in public spaces

The digital mapping tool allows users to anonymously tag places where they feel safe or unsafe and explain why.
The digital mapping tool allows users to anonymously tag places where they feel safe or unsafe and explain why. http://safecityldn.crowdspotmap.com

Women and girls now have access to a digital mapping tool that lets them tag places in the city where they feel unsafe.

The website, launched Monday, is part of the Safe City London initiative which was created through a worldwide United Nations Women program aimed at enhancing safety for women and girls in public spaces.

According to local women’s shelter and support centre, ANOVA, the site is the first step in a five-year plan that aims to identify the scope of local experiences of violence and harassment.

READ MORE: London group wants city to join United Nations Women Safe City program

The website encourages users to “[a]nonymously tag places where you feel safe or less safe, where you’re maybe just more aware or feel uneasy, where you look over your shoulder, where you sometimes avoid going or feel excluded, where you’ve experienced catcalling, groping or any form of sexual violence.”

Users are then asked to explain why they feel safe or unsafe.

From there, a few followup questions are asked to gather additional details about the context of the experience. That information will then be used by ANOVA and the Safe Cities Advisory Committee to identify patterns and trends that will help shape recommendations to council.

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Along with the website, there will also be four or five focus groups.

READ MORE: London committee approves funding request for safe cities initiative

“While common understandings of sexual violence often take place behind closed doors, many aspects are normalized and happen right in public,” said officials with ANOVA.

They add groping, catcalls, leering, and whistles are all forms of sexual harassment and can prevent women and girls from feeling safe to move about their city.

Early data from the study will be shared with Council in January 2019.

To access the website, head to safecityldn.crowdspotmap.com

After Winnipeg and Edmonton, London is the third city in Canada to become a United Nations Safe City.