SketchFactor, the brainchild of co-founders Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, is a Manhattan-based navigation app that crowdsources user experiences along with publicly available data to rate the relative “sketchiness” of certain areas in major cities. The app will launch on iTunes on Friday, capping off a big week for the startup, which was named as a finalist in NYC BigApps, a city-sponsored competition that promotes technologies designed to improve quality of life issues in New York City and government transparency.
According to Ms. McGuire, a Los Angeles native who lives in the West Village, the impetus behind SketchFactor was her experience as a young woman navigating the streets of Washington, D.C., where she worked at a nonprofit.
“How can we take large amounts of data and crowdsource opinions on certain areas?” she wondered to herself. “I brought that idea to a Lean Startup event in D.C., it got a huge reception and suddenly I was on my way.”
When challenged with the obvious observation that people’s subjective impressions of whether a neighborhood is “sketchy” is probably going to just enable racists, the founders replied that they only wanted people to report “incidents, not feelings”. Problem solved.
There have been attempts to use police data to determine what’s going on in a neighborhood (most notably Chicagocrime.org, which morphed into Every Block and was then shut down after NBC acquired it). That would be an app I’d be willing to buy, but it would take work, and it’s not “social”, so a couple of 20-something douches couldn’t get any VC funding for it.
(Thanks to reader J for sending this in)