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.
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."
The founders are also bracing for potential complications from an app that asks anonymous users to judge a neighborhood’s sketchiness. After all, fear can be subjective. And the site could be vulnerable to criticisms regarding the degree to which race is used to profile a neighborhood.
"We understand that people will see this issue," Ms. McGuire said. "And even though Dan and I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people. As far as we’re concerned, racial profiling is ‘sketchy’ and we are trying to empower users to report incidents of racism against them and define their own experience of the streets."
Doublespeak of the day.