HELLO! Dear followers!
We at Neon Shields been up to some truly AWESOME stuff- and by awesome I really mean productive…
We gathered nine people in three groups of three, each of them in varying situations at night: partiers, workers, and commuters (with a good sprinkling of variety among them, meaning they weren’t all out for 100% work, play, travel, but enough we could get reliable answers and data- oh data, how I love thee, my fickle anchor…), each of them possessing varying degrees of paranoia at night:
Those heroic persons who feel 100% safe at any given moment- including flying solo in the night (oh, how the world needs her confidence! Perhaps she’s Batman- er, woman. Batwoman- she comes!)
Such fearless people were also balanced out by the sensibly fearful and those with a level of fear to rival my Garp level paranoia (to those who haven’t read the marvelous novel ‘World According to Garp’, it’s simply my saying: I go slightly beyond sensical into irrational at times), and those that would make the tin-hatted squadrons shake their heads in disbelief.
We asked each of our groups the same core questions, which were: gender, mode of transport, why they were out at night, what makes them feel unsafe, what makes them feel safe, how those things made them feel safe, how those items (be they a physical item or something as simple as a crowd or a cop) may be improved, and what items they wanted.
I created a chart with examples from each of the three interview samples (click here to see) to give all of y’all a good idea of what we’ve gotten- and what looks like a good amount of cross-over between ideas from our three different fields. Didn’t click the link? No worries, here’s the cross over between ALL of the interviews, not just the selected examples:
NUMBER ONE: People feel the most unsafe when there’s not a lot of light and they’re alone.
NUMBER TWO: People feel safest with other people: crowds, shops, etc.
NUMBER THREE: The people we interviewed- ranging from college students to career workers- generally agreed that they didn’t want to hurt people and—
NUMBER FOUR- –people would prefer to run than to fight when alone at night.
These ideas are all starting to crossover- how nifty! So we started looking around at things that a) flashed b) made a LOT of noise and c) would preferably not hurt the attacker too badly.
To start us off, I found the very flashlight(s) mentioned in one of our interviews (utilized by police to disorient their attackers), which were being handily reviewed by the wonderful brains at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Technology Review. The flashlight, to my link-weary brethren (and shield-maidens), is made of LED’s that essentially make the person on the receiving end feel nauseous enough to keel over then and there (I really feel quite awful for whoever was tested on- I hope they were reimbursed handsomely. I’m reminded of how cops and military folks go through some crazy training, which will usually mean the things they carry are used on them- well, except the guns).
Such a device would be particularly useful at night- a flashlight doesn’t have much use during the day, but that’s not what we’re here for is it? The flashlight would also be effective only if used against someone facing you- so following or moving directly towards you- is a definite possible limitation (how long does it take for you to turn around? How long would it take for someone to come up behind you in that time, or get close enough to use a knife or pull you somewhere out of the way?).
The flashlight is also going to be part of a standard police kit, and likely not readily available for civilian use. As seen above, tasers are painful and debilitating- it’s understandable to want something that wouldn’t require you to a) get that close to your attacker and b) have to tase someone. Don’t think it’s super painful? Go click on the link attached to ‘crazy training’ again to get a healthy respect for the folks in the military- Air Force in that particular video, I believe- and your attacker, or you if you lose control of your chosen mode of self defense.
So- the flashlight would need to be civilian available, portable, easily accessible, and not require magic batteries you have to order from Avalon for the price of your leg and grandchildren.
We have criteria- which is as good as an idea.
A sound device- wonderful idea, but we are presented with the car alarm response issue: when people hear something loud, obnoxious and abrasive at late night/early morning, their first response tends to be: whoever that is better turn it off RIGHT NOW, not ‘oh no, someone’s breaking into my neighbors car, I should go check!’. And so we’re presented with a good piece of information: a sound device would need to be a recording of some kind and able to project that recording quite loudly- possibly while flashing or alerting the police or local police/neighborhood service to your location.
A recording of a woman (or child), shrieking HELP! at an ear piercing level will get people moving fairly quickly (is this ethical if you’re a man? Not a child? Not even actually in physical danger? Do ethics matter if you’re afraid for your well being? Stay tuned for future discussions- or post below! We’d love to hear from you.).
To wrap this VERY long post up: we have our work cut out for us. We know what we want to do, we have resources, we have parameters, and now we begin the prowl for- wait for it- a design. We’ll be sure to keep our beautiful audience updated as to our goings on, but until then…
Have a wonderful day, stay safe,
I met Batwoman and she’d probably prefer I gave credit where it’s due, so here’s my sources:
Bear .gif credit: here
Thinking .gif credit: ta-da!