Two years ago we attended a competition hosted by the DMZ in collaboration with the Toronto Police where they wanted us to build tools to help communities grow. We developed an app for community reporting that allowed users to submit incidences and would automatically notify other users in the area. After placing second in that competition, the app received some interest from Toronto’s chief of Police and the mayor but we pushed it aside to pursue other consulting opportunities and some work abroad.
More recently, I started to notice the lack of support available for communities especially university campuses. In early November, we experienced ridiculous crimes such as the infamous garbage bucket dumper who attacked students. In response to this, some Canadian universities and colleges decided to release applications to support students but after investigating these apps, I knew there was an opportunity to create something that could make a real impact in the lives of students.
The other applications were digital handbooks with tips for avoiding incidences and steps to take if you’re in a tricky situation. It was evident that schools wanted to protect their students but also their reputation, which is why the majority of universities send out email notifications after the fact and shy away from publicizing the information. After having personally experienced an incident on campus earlier this year, I realized that I myself didnʼt feel comfortable reporting the incidents to campus security. I didn’t feel completely comfortable disclosing my identity and I didn’t feel they would take my case seriously but I struggled with still wanting to keep my peers informed.
I believed that this was the perfect opportunity to take initiative and launch podd as an app for campus safety, where students could report incidences in real time and notify their peers as soon as possible.
The name ‘Podd’ is derived from the saying ‘peas in a pod’, which represents community. Students can create accounts using their school emails and choose their campus. They are then shown all reports by other students on a map. Each report is vetted and released to the public anonymously.
The app will send you notifications in real time to keep yourself and others safe. The application also displays important statistics like the number of reports submitted daily and peak reporting times.
After a two week beta release we were able to collect reports dating back to August 2018 for one of the first schools to be added to the system, Ryerson University. After aggregating all of this data, we discovered trends that gave us these conclusions:
Here is a visual display of the activity:
Ultimately our goal is to increase community involvement and transparency so that students feel safe on campus and can comfortably disclose their experiences.