Safety & News Deserts: What GeoSure Does to Fill the Void in the Data Landscape

Apr 18, 2024

We started GeoSure to solve a couple gnawing problems: when we considered the communities and neighborhoods we lived and worked in, we realized there was a lack of information on a local level about how secure they were. There were “safety deserts,” in other words – thousands of places world-wide where there was a dearth of this critical information.  And the data that was available – such as websites, blogs, government travel advisories – was generic, awkward and time consuming to access. It also wasn’t deep enough, focusing on the national level, without any sensitivity to how safety concerns change from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood. People didn’t really have the information and data they needed to confidently navigate their surroundings. They didn’t know where it was safe to let loose and explore, and where they should be a little more vigilant, a little more aware. 

We created GeoSure with the mission of providing that data in real-time, so that our users can better navigate the neighborhoods they live in and visit; so that they get insights into health and medical infrastructure, their physical and political security, and their safety as members of vulnerable communities. Today we serve over 400,000 locations – and over 20 million users - around the world with this critical information. 

This data, by the way, was already there, but it was “unstructured” – scattered across thousands of reports, records and databases. We built a platform to pull it together, organize it, analyze it, score it, and make it available in real time on a hyper-local basis.

With this over-riding focus on the vitality and robustness of local communities, and on solving the problem of safety deserts, we have watched with despair that the news outlets that Americans have traditionally rely on – and are central to a well-functioning democracy – are going the way of the dodo.  

On average 2.5 local papers close every week, which creates another kind of desert -  a “news deserts” — counties, towns and villages – even cities  where there are no local newspapers. “More than half of all U.S. counties now have limited access to reliable local news and information,” Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism reports; meanwhile at least 228 counties stand on the outskirts of a “news desert,” with their local papers likely to fold in the near future.

This is troubling news in and of itself: the fact that so many Americans rely on newspapers like these — and see them as some of the only remaining sources of trustworthy news they have access to — should only amplify the concern. 

Of course GeoSure can't repopulate news deserts. That was never part of the plan.  But our mission can help alleviate some of the strain this lack of trustworthy news outlets is putting on Americans. We are bringing objective, reliable data to every corner of the country — insights and analysis about safety and security you can put your faith in.  

This kind of information is key to the health and vibrancy of local communities.  Small businesses flourish when people feel safe and secure enough to go out, whether to shop, socialize, or attend at local government meetings.    

Call it idealistic, but maybe it’s through these kinds of interactions that some faith can be restored in the political institutions that people have been abandoning; the quickest way to start trusting something is by acquainting yourself with it. The more people are engaged with local politics, the less likely they are to be skeptical or suspicious of them. 

GeoSure -directly fosters relationships between individuals and their community by encouraging them to give us feedback on the information we provide; they start to look at their surroundings in a new way, contemplating how safe they are at any given moment. The same way they feel better about their local government by participating in it, their confidence and sense of reassurance is deepened when they look at the world through the lens GeoSure provides.  

This is part of our plan.  In fact it’s central to our mission. We want to be a driver of local engagement: we want people to feel as safe and comfortable as possible interacting with the world around them. Because only then can they truly become members of their community. And when people feel fully integrated into their communities – when their active, happy members of their neighborhoods – they feel that much more protective of the place where they live. Which ultimately makes them that much safer. That feeling of confidence becomes contagious – so pass it on.