[Photo by Cliff Burns]
Start the wave of collective groaning and cringing because a judgmental neighborhood app called Sketch Factor has arrived. Unfortunately, this one actually is not trying to offend everyone, so predictably, it's doing just that. The app is meant to pinpoint a neighborhood's sketchiness, which is already a loaded term, based on the city's crime data and reports submitted by its users. In the app bio, the developers ask users to add their experiences to the map, floating questions such as "Want to avoid harrassment?" "Tired of being profiled?" and of course, "Ever experience something sketchy?"
Worst of all, the app was inspired by the developer's experience walking around D.C. when she worked for a nonprofit. From the press release, "Now, this is nowhere close to where the city was ten or even five years ago, but still, in DC it's common to walk down a well trafficked block followed by a completely desolate one. During my five years in DC, I frequently experienced this." The racist allegations that have followed the app's Friday release aren't lost on the developers and they've put a statement on their website that says, "Setting the record straight: SketchFactor is a tool for anyone, anywhere, at any time. We have a reporting mechanism for racial profiling, harassment, low lighting, desolate areas, weird stuff, you name it. When people actually download the app, they see that this is truly a tool for everyone." The app only launched on Friday, so time will tell whether D.C.'s "sketchiness" will fill in upon predictable neighborhood lines.
· Sketch Factor [Official Site]
· Smiling Young White People Make App for Avoiding Black Neighborhoods [ValleyWag]
· People Just Won't Give Up on Awful Neighborhood Apps [CityLab]