Safe through a navigation app

Who, what, how, when, why interview

Helping people to keep safe through a navigation app

WHO are you?

Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder & CEO

WHAT did you do?

Prior to Founding Safe & the City, I worked in public health across various disciplines, including research, monitoring and evaluation and policy. I was always fascinated by technology and the power it would unlock if more preventative approaches were used to help people keep safe, well and healthy.

When I moved first moved to London, I used navigation, like Citymapper, to get around the city. However, the fastest route wasn’t always the safest. One night after following Google Maps route, I found myself trapped in an alleyway with two kitchen staff who threatened to sexually assault me. I managed to escape but couldn’t help but think about others who would follow that same route and may not have been as lucky as me. The lightbulb moment happened when I thought of how powerful an everyday free navigation app could be if its integrated safety intelligence about the known risks, but also empower people to discretely share their experiences-so we could use that data to help stop it from happening to others.

HOW did you do it?

Safe & the City is a free iOS and Android safety navigation app that provides people with official safety risk information, a quick way to get help and a way to share your experiences-anonymously or with friends. We also offer API/Integration services for other mobile applications-such as dating apps- will have the same safety functionality and can take proactive measures to keep people on their platforms safe in both digital and physical spaces.

As a social enterprise, we help businesses and organisations take measurable and preventative actions on these localised insights.

WHEN did you start your company?

I always feel like this is a varied question depending how you look at it. Much the same as when you count the start of a relationship. I registered the company in February 2017, but it wasn’t until November when I was funded, started the product and was able to quit my job to focus full-time on Safe & the City.

WHY are you innovating with this product or service?

Technology is not designed equally. We are recognising more of these impacts unintentionally discriminating and showing bias to various groups, including women and BAME. Research has shown safety is perceived and experienced differently between men, women, and other genders. Safe & the City technology is responsive to that. We can’t walk in everyone’s shoes, but we can engage them in the solution to enable the design of smarter technologies and safer spaces.

WHERE are you from?

I was born in Canada, although like to consider myself a global citizen. I’ve lived in 9 countries total and have travel to over 50 others. I am currently based in London, England.


Technology & Big Data





Twitter: @safeandthecity (