Unfortunately nearly every woman knows that uncomfortable feeling of being out alone in the dark late at night. The innovative WayGuard app gives women a virtual companion to accompany them on their way home, giving them a feeling of being safe and raising the alarm in an emergency.
Nearly all women know that uncomfortable feeling of being out in the dark on their way home at night, having to go through an underpass or jogging on their own in a forest. It’s an almost automatic reaction that they hold their door key between their fingers as a precaution, start walking faster or pretend to be talking on the phone. This fear is not unfounded. According to a representative survey carried out by AXA in 2019, around 40 percent of 500 Swiss questioned had already had negative experiences when they were out on their own.
To make women feel safe when they’re out on their own, AXA Switzerland’s innovation team launched a new app in fall 2019 that can be used as a companion to accompany you to your front door. The WayGuard companion app offers a 24-hour service that can be used in a variety of situations. When the app is activated, it is there in the background for the whole journey so that users feel safe and can call for help in serious cases. Users can be accompanied virtually or by phone by friends, family members or specially trained WayGuard professionals. The app informs the companions of the current location and lets them know when the user has arrived at their destination.
The app was developed by AXA Germany in 2016 with the support of the Cologne Police and has since aroused considerable interest: In Switzerland, it’s currently used by more than 26,000 people. Overall, there are now almost 400,000 users, most of whom are in Germany. “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.
As well as the innovative companion service, WayGuard contains specific tips on how to behave in situations where people are out on their own and perhaps feel unsafe, such as how to properly plan the route home or deter someone who is being forceful. The tips were created in conjunction with a team of experts from the Cologne police.
The AXA study also shows that it’s not only women who sometimes feel uneasy when they’re out on their own, but men too. The reasons men gave when questioned were strangers walking behind them, groups of strangers as well as unlit streets. Almost one-third had actually already had negative experiences. At the moment, 17 percent of all WayGuard users in Switzerland are men.
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.
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.