Nearly every woman knows that uncomfortable feeling of being out alone in the dark late at night. The innovative WayGuard app accompanies women safely on their way home.
Around 90 percent of women sometimes feel uncomfortable if they are on their way home alone late at night, have to go through an underpass or are on their own in a forest. This is shown by a representative survey carried out by AXA of 500 Swiss aged between 15 and 40.
Women feel particularly uneasy if a stranger is behind them and it’s dark. More than 50 percent of women then reach for their phones, many walk quicker or hold a sharp-pointed item in their hand such as a key in order to feel safer.
With good reason: 40 percent of the women surveyed have actually had negative experiences while out on their own, being either hassled, harassed or molested. Walking is only one aspect: around 75 percent of the women surveyed also felt uneasy on public transport.
AXA’s innovation team is now launching a new service that can accompany women all the way to their front door. The WayGuard companion app offers a 24-hour service that can be used in a variety of situations. If the app is activated, it is there in the background during the whole journey so that women feel safe and can call for help in an emergency.
The app was developed by AXA Germany in 2016 with the support of the Cologne Police and has aroused considerable interest: in Germany, WayGuard already has more than 300,000 registered users. AXA is now offering this free and unique service in Switzerland too.
“As part of the AXA Group, we are linked around the world with innovation teams. We would also like to offer our Swiss customers innovative services that have proved successful in other countries”, says Claudia Bienentreu, Head of Open Innovation at AXA Switzerland.
The app identifies the user’s precise location and transmits this in real time and in encrypted form to a control center which organizes professional help effectively whenever required. If there is an actual emergency, WayGuard solves a crucial problem: many people in an emergency situation find it hard to describe their precise location. Using the GPS data transmitted in the emergency call, the control center can quickly coordinate help. In a critical case, the emergency call goes to the local police department which can provide immediate assistance, as it has precise details of the location.
If required, the user can also use the app to connect to their own companion from among their family or friends who can see the precise location via the app. The user can also chat or telephone with their companion. Furthermore, the professional control center is contactable 24/7 and is therefore a secure backup if private companions are busy or don’t want to be disturbed.
All companions are notified when the user arrives safely at their destination. Because as the representative survey shows, friends and acquaintances are also sometimes worried about their loved ones being out on their own. Almost 90 percent of the men and women surveyed said they had been worried about friends or family, mainly a girlfriend, friend or partner.
The app also contains specific tips for women who go out on their own, such as how they can properly plan their journey home or deter anyone who is being forceful.
The WayGuard companion app for iPhone and Android is now available to download for free from the App Store and Play Store and can be used by all interested parties, i.e. men, older people or teenagers and their parents.
The app is only available in German at the moment. Depending on the success in German-speaking Switzerland, AXA is also considering French and Italian versions.
As the AXA study shows, it’s not only women who feel uneasy when they’re out on their own, but men too. More than three-quarters of the men surveyed aged between 15 and 40 sometimes feel unsafe when they’re going home alone after an evening out. The specific reasons given are strangers walking behind them, groups of strangers as well as unlit streets. Almost one-third had actually already had negative experiences. The WayGuard companion app is available to all interested parties, including men, older people or teenagers and their parents.
Representative online survey of 500 people in German-speaking Switzerland aged between 15 and 40 carried out by AXA Switzerland between October 9 and 14, 2019 on perceived safety in public spaces.