Safe and Sound: Creating an App that Keeps Women Protected After Dark

night safety app main image

Night Safety App (NSA) is an app designed to help women, particularly college students, feel safe and secure while walking to their destinations at night. Our goal was to prevent and reduce harassment and assault crimes against women by providing them with a reliable tool that helps them feel safe even when walking alone. Our team of five embarked on this project as part of our second cohort in the Code Louisville Program. Over a period of five weeks, we worked hard to develop the minimal viable product.

Collaborative Design Process

  • Competitive Analysis: We analyzed existing solutions in the market, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses, to identify areas where user needs were not being met.

  • User Research: We conducted surveys to understand the feelings and behaviors of young women about walking alone at night, including their transit routines, what factors contributed to unsafe feelings, and what they usually did to help them feel safer.

  • Empathy Mapping: Based on our user research, we developed empathy maps to help us understand our target audience's needs, goals, and emotions.

My Role

  • User Flow: Developed a user flow to visualize how our target audience would interact with the app, from sign-up to reporting unsafe situations.

  • Wire frames: Created wire frames to prototype the app's design and structure.

  • Prototyping: Created both low-fidelity mockups to test and refine the app's design and features.

Understanding The Problem

Despite advances in gender equality, a significant safety gap persists in the United States, particularly regarding women's comfort when walking alone at night. Only 64% of women report feeling safe compared to 86% of men, with the discrepancy even greater among lower-income households. This issue is particularly relevant for college students who frequently navigate campuses after dark. Our challenge, therefore, is to create a user-friendly mobile application offering real-time safety support to enhance women's confidence and security, especially for those from low-income households, during their nighttime commutes."

Source: "G7 Women Need Safety to Make Gender Inequality History," Gallup, June 19, 2018.


Though many women in general do not feel safe traveling around at night, to limit scope, we decided to focus on young, female college students. Young women in college are often in situations where they may have to walk to a location at night such as grabbing food, leaving the library, walking to or from a party, etc.

Scoping out the Competitors

night safety app research image 1

Team Uses Lean UX Canvas to Tackle Safety Challenges for Nighttime Walkers

Initially, the problem we focused on was young individuals in general feeling unsafe while walking to their destinations at night, which created a broad problem to solve. In order to limit the scope of the problem we used a Lean UX canvas. In the canvas, the team discussed who exactly we would be creating a product for. Questions came up such as, do we as a team want to focus on an individual or collaborative solution (parent and child)? Should we create a solution for multiple age groups or just one? and what are others in this niche doing to solve this issue? After discussing these questions, we then moved on to competitive analysis to further find the answers we sought.

night safety app research image 2

For our competitive analysis, we looked at existing solutions on what they did well and where their where gaps within the market where user needs weren't being met. Primarily, we focused on apps, physical devices, and hybrid solutions which utilized both apps and physical devices. Searching app store user reviews allowed us to quickly get customer feedback on potential competitor solutions. After gathering enough data, our next step was to hear from potential users directly by sending out a survey and speaking to them.

Team's struggle with problem identification delays project progress: a lesson learned in Lean UX Canvas

The beginning of the project was difficult as the team struggled to figure what problem we were trying to solve. For this cohort, teams were required to come up with the project idea. For our first exposure to the Lean UX canvas, we initially, and mistakenly, left out the problem statement. This mistake led to a few weeks of talking about a broad problem that lacked clarity and alignment for the team. After a few weeks of spinning wheels, we went back to our canvas and created a more focused, specific problem that we were to find a solution to.

How do our users feel about safety walking at night?

Survey Results Reveal Alarming Nighttime Safety Concerns Among Over 50 Participants, Especially Women, with 25% Feeling Unsafe Almost Daily and 75% Monthly

In an effort to understand users' feelings towards nighttime safety and their experiences with existing safety measures, we undertook a comprehensive survey. This survey looked into their usual nighttime travel habits, unraveled the elements contributing to feelings of insecurity, and discovered how they typically manage these threats. Over fifty individuals responded to our survey, and the outcomes were alarming. An overwhelming 25% of respondents reported feeling unsafe almost daily, and in excess of 75% experienced feelings of insecurity at least monthly. Upon dissecting the data by gender, it was found that nearly one in four women respondents experienced a pervasive sense of insecurity nearly every night, with an astounding 90% encountering it at least once a month. Most concerning was the finding that close to 10% of female respondents would never consider walking alone at any time.

How can we solve this problem?

Night Safety App addresses key concerns with user verification, emergency reporting, & quick location sharing

Using all of our findings from the discovery phase, we came up with some general ideas to what should be included in our night safety app and why. For our MVP, we focused on a couple key areas. First, we made sure to focus on users feeling safe about walking with other users by implementing a required verification system. Second, users should be able to quickly and easily share their location with their inner circle or authorities at any moment. Third, users to have the ability to report any unsafe walk situation. Last, users should be able to quickly find each with features such as a location map similar to Lyft.

Collaborative user flow creation enables team understanding for night safety app design

We then took the ideas from the previous stage, went off individually, created our own user flows. Afterwards, we then compared what each team member came up with. Below is the user flow I created. We wanted to develop a shared understanding for all team members on what we would be designing.


Below is the initial wire frame by team member, Natalya Naser. My wire frame is the one after. Here we see we have two different approaches. Natalya designed a process for users to simply join an individual or group walking to the same common destination, which a great solution.

natalya wireframe

When designing my wire frame, I asked myself, what if someone has to go to a destination that isn't as popular or common? For this reason, I chose the Uber/Lyft model for my design. In the end, the team decided that a hybrid of the two approach could work by keeping the design I created and implementing an alert and screen for users traveling to a common destination.

chauncey wireframe

Our we on the right track?

User feedback reveals trust concerns in night safety app concept with risk mitigation measures needed for potential solution

We then took a step back and conducted further user research and testing by presenting some safety solutions we had envisioned for our walking app. We asked our target users a series of questions to gauge their interest and preferences, such as their willingness to wait for a walking partner, the importance of different features in the app, and whether they would like to join walks with multiple users to a common location. We also inquired if they would like the ability to see if a user was in fear or in need of urgent assistance. While many of these features require further more thought, we were able to get a foundation of how the app would function and users were able to view simple screen layouts during the testing process. Below is some insights we gathered from user interviews.

student interview image 1

student interview 2

student interview 3

After analyzing the feedback from our users, it is clear that there may indeed be a need for app like this. However, a major concern that was highlighted is the issue of trusting strangers when using the app. Some team members stated that this might not be a significant problem given the growing trend of using apps like Airbnb, Lyft, and Hinge, we all agreed that any risks to the safety of our users should be minimized as much as possible. Therefore, we concluded that any potential solution would require rigorous testing and risk mitigation measures. The interview responses also made me rethink my own wire frame approach. I wouldn't completely scrap my wire frame but definitely move it towards considering more group and social features, similar to Natalya's solution. With that in mind, we had to wrap up the project for our cohort, as our five weeks had come to an end.


Team develops night safety app using Lean UX canvas, highlights trust issues in user feedback, plans to continue iterating on ideas to make late-night travel safer.

In conclusion, our team had an incredible experience creating a night safety app from scratch using the Lean UX canvas approach. We learned that designing a product requires quick adaptation to new information and effective communication with team members. The process of conducting user research and testing was invaluable in understanding our target audience's needs and preferences. However, one major concern highlighted in the feedback was the issue of trusting strangers when using the app.

Moving forward, we plan to continue iterating on our ideas and exploring ways to make late-night travel safer for everyone. We believe there is a real need for an app like this, and we are excited to see where this project will go in the future. Overall, this experience has taught us the importance of teamwork, user-centered design, and agile methodologies in product development.

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