Alice Wade discusses a new app which aims to provide assistance for clubbers
Where You At is a new free app that allows you to track lost friends in nightclubs, even when there is no signal available. It comes in response to the continuing threat on women’s safety posed by spiking, sexual assault, and scant safety procedures to handle such situations. Where You At offers a pragmatic response to the issue by handing control to the night goers themselves.
The app has two female co-founders: university students, Tamzin Lent and Olivia Leigh, and aims to be launched imminently. It comes at a time of great urgency as we continue to read harrowing stories of spiking including the latest threat of spiking via needle injection. It reflects universally felt trepidations experienced by women out at night. The problem is loud and those at Where You At are listening.
The app will provide users with a clear map of theirs and their friends location on entry, allowing users to track and find each other when necessary. The aim is for both venues and app users to work in partnership. Where You At does not rely on cellular connection to work but harnesses Bluetooth to enable precise tracking for friends connected on the app. This will seriously change the way club goers experience nightlife. The use of Bluetooth will give piece of mind where guarantee of stable internet connection cannot be secured. Where You At will be a reliable safe word for groups of friends.
The principal feature of the app is its SOS button which sends out a precise time and location alert to your friends if threatened or in danger. This can provide essential information to police if necessary. Furthermore, SOS alerts can be sent directly to venues to alert staff to unsafe areas on site which they can work to improve. This will also be important for clubs who will be given the opportunity to improve their customers experience.
Trials for the app launch will begin in Oxford and Cambridge with hopes to expand into London and eventually nationwide. COI Lauren Levine hopes that Where You At will become so integral that people won’t consider going to a venue if they aren’t on the app.
The app comes at a critical time in nightlife history. Reports of women being spiked via needle injection are still trickling through the media and action must be taken. Where You At understands the mutual need for safety and fun. Treating women’s safety as a priority should not contradict with the right for women to enjoy themselves on a night out. Therefore, instead of ordering gender lock down or offering restrictive advice, Where You At offers women a reclamation of the night, and the autonomy to have a good time.
There are currently huge legal gaps in prosecuting against cases of spiking. This is because spiking currently has no registered crime code. Police do not consider it as a stand-alone crime and so it is not reported unless connected to a report of theft or sexual assault. Where You At want to bridge this gap between experience and the legal system erasing these traumatic experiences. WYA have launched a survey in conjunction with the NTIA to document these experiences.
The work at Where You At will not be isolated to its app, founders hope to open the door to further, crucial discussions. Their website, Where You At Writes, will be a forum for everything and anything on the topic. Delicate conversations about fear, vulnerability and sexual assault have been far too long shackled to shame, treated with a sense of inquisition and suspicion. Where You At will lift the lid on these salient conversations, smoothing the edges of all that speculation and stigma that so often proceeds these honest conversations.
In discussing her own experiences with sexual assault, Lauren, co-founder of Where You At, also emphasises the importance of these discussions in evoking better language to describe this topic. She sees gaps in our language as repressing true articulation of experience and thinks this something we must also address. WYA Writes hope to play a crucial role in achieving this.
Where You At will be of significant importance to young women especially. Spiking and nightclubs seem like scary places right now. The development of WYA is a sign of better things to come and shows how women can come together to fight back against these issues.
Words by Alice Wade