Sketch Factor App Allows Users to Define Sketchy Areas in Towns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 6's Justin Finch has the details on an iPhone app called Sketch Factor that lets users report "sketchy" activity to help better alert users of areas in cities to avoid. (Published Monday, Aug 18, 2014)

    A new iPhone app is giving users an eyeful with a map of South Florida like most have never seen before. All across the app, called “Sketch Factor” are furrowed faces representing a crime or other conduct that may be concerning.

    Sketch Factor’s developers said they built the new app to give users a heads-up of potentially unsafe or “sketchy” areas. It allows users to post problems, crimes, or other issues, in the crowd-sourced application.

    Sketch Factor would also allow users to plug in their travel routes and the app will help them steer clear of so-called “sketchy” areas. The developers said they have more than 60,000 users who have contributed to the maps.

    “I would definitely use it, it would be super helpful,” said Chris Gonzalez of Miami.

    A user in Miami, near Northwest 103rd Street and 7th Avenue wrote that she was followed by a man at a gas station who later snatched her purse as she got inside of her car.

    But critics claim the app also gives posters a space to be cruel and insensitive, even racist. Some point to people not reporting incidents at all, instead, mocking different neighborhoods. A poster in Oakland Park wrote they saw “feral cats urinating in cars due to people who refuse to stop feeding them.” Others zeroed in on homeless people in neighborhoods.

    Developers of the app said they would remove offensive posts and warn users about what will be acceptable.

    “Any racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise discriminatory posts will be deleted. One exception: if the user is referring to an incident where they were the target of a discriminatory experience, by all means, share the nitty gritty detail,” the website states.

    Controversy aside, smartphone users in South Florida said if the app keeps someone safe, it’s worth a download.

    “If it’s a crime, you should report it, no matter what crime it is,” Billy Felix of Miami said. “If it’s a car accident or someone got hurt or something, you should report it.”

    The developers said they are currently working on a version of the app for Android smartphones.

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