WalkSafe has had more than 300,000 downloads in one week, becoming the No 1 free app on the Apple iOS and entering the Top 10 on the Android downloads chart. Previously, the app has only had about 2,000 downloads.
Emma Kay, the co-founder of the app, said her own experiences of harassment had inspired the project.
“It was something that I definitely felt very strongly about,” she said. “There have been instances in the past of myself, dating back from a young age – I’m talking schoolgirl age – where you felt nervous, you’ve been scared.
“I’ve been followed, I’ve had someone, a stranger in the street put his hand up my skirt, I’ve been in those sorts of situations and it does start young.”
Features of the app include a map of reported incidents nearby that make users aware of potential danger zones, and the ability for users to check in with others while out, and being able to send an automatic notification to friends when they have reached their destination.
Hollie Guard is another women’s safety app which has had an increase in downloads recently. The app was created in memory of Hollie Gazzard, a 20-year-old woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2014. The app has now had more than 200,000 downloads, with a surge after reports of Everard’s disappearance.
Poppy Fletcher, who works for the app, said: “While we hope that our users are never in a position to have to use the app’s features, we want as many people [as possible] to download the app so that they may have the peace of mind of having a personal safety device in their pocket.”
Women’s safety apps aimed at students are also in development. Where You At, developed by students Olivia Leigh and Tamzin Lent, is due to launch this year at freshers’ weeks at universities. Its aim is to “reduce fear, vulnerability and assault in nightclubs”, and works by developing a floor plan of venues and allowing users to locate their friends within a crowd through Bluetooth.
Leigh said: “After years of feeling vulnerable and anxious in clubs when constantly losing our friends, we decided to create a safety solution which uses indoor mapping, works without signal, and allows us to SOS friends we trust.
“We know that students are feeling incredibly nervous about returning to busy venues, particularly among the large crowds predicted. There is a new cohort of 18-year-old freshers who have not legally been allowed to attend non-socially distanced nightlife, who have not been in crowds since their penultimate year in school and are terrified.”
The Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, is accused of kidnapping and murdering 33-year-old Everard, who was last seen in public walking from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on 3 March. He is due to go on trial in the autumn.