CIVIC

SafeTrek Works to Improve Public Safety in St. Louis and Across U.S.

Image courtesy of SafeTrek

You’re told to trust your intuition if you feel unsafe—but when the cause of that unsafe feeling can’t be pinpointed, you may feel it’s premature to call for help. Take walking to you car alone, for example; there may not be any visible signs of danger, but something might not feel right. That’s where St. Louis-based personal safety app SafeTrek comes in.

SafeTrek gives users a “hold until safe” feature that lets them continuously press a button on their phone’s screen and release if they need immediate emergency assistance. That technology is now available for free for one year to MetroLink and MetroBus commuters thanks to nonprofit Citizens for Modern Transit.

“We started SafeTrek four years ago as a mobile application to replace the college blue lights,” says cofounder Nick Droege, explaining the problem became clear while in college when he and others realized no one would stand at the public safety pole and wait for help should someone be chasing them.

But why not just call 911? “There’s a reason why when you call 911 the dispatchers have to run through a series of questions,” Droege says, explaining that cell phone location tracking on a 911 call isn’t always as precise as people may think. “But the reality of it is with tech today we can get everything we need at the push of a button, and most of that data already exists.” He compared it to how precise your location is when you order a ride or food delivery using your phone. When a user lets go of the “hold until safe” button, their exact location is sent to the police. “Our new mission is, If we were to build the new 911, what would we have to do?

Since public transit safety is a frequent topic in St. Louis, Citizens for Modern Transit is offering this technology to its users to help protect current riders and grow confidence and trust in the transit system. “[It’s] just about providing a safety option for people who ride transit,” Droege says. “I think many people who have ridden public transit, not just here in St. Louis,…have been in situations where they felt uncomfortable.”

SafeTrek is available for iPhone and Android devices. And while the team is headquartered in Downtown St. Louis’ T-Rex building, the technology works across the United States. SafeTrek is traditionally available for $29.99 per year or $2.99 per month, although through this partnership with Citizens for Modern Transit many St. Louisans may access it for free.

MetroLink and MetroBus riders who would like to access this service for free for one year may do so at safetrekapp.com/cmt now. Users must have previously registered their commute with Citizens for Modern Transit; learn more about that process at cmt-stl.org.