Finally, An App Helps You Totally Avoid “Sketchy” Poor People

August 7, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Having trouble reinforcing your closely held prejudiced beliefs? There’s an app for that! SketchFactor, which will be released Friday, helps users avoid “sketchy” (shady? dangerous? what?) areas of the city. Created by Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, the crowdsourced program will aggregate the collective feelings of people who own iPhones about “sketchy” neighborhoods. McGuire told Crain’s that the impetus for the app’s creation was wondering “How can we take large amounts of data and crowdsource opinions on certain areas.” What could go wrong?

Responding to the possibility that the app could be criticized as racist, McGuire said “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.” In that case, it’s hard to know who the app is intended for. But if SketchFactor’s goal actually has anything to do with reporting “sketchy” racism, it will be interesting to see in which part of the city people of color don’t feel at risk. (Image: SketchFactor)