An app that enables people to organise themselves and act in order to prevent and stop criminal activity is growing in popularity in Sweden.
The Trygve digital neighbourhood watch app, developed by former students at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, allows users to report a problem and promptly elicit the help of other users in the area.
"The goal is to make neighbourhoods safer worldwide," said Per Källgården, founder of United Eyes, the company behind the app.
"So far we have about 10,000 users in Sweden. If the growth in downloads continues, we'll have another 100,000 users in six months."
People can report anything from lost dogs and missing children to armed robberies, typically receiving a response within two minutes, Källgården said.
The app, which will soon be launched in Germany, quickly gained support not only among ordinary citizens but also among housing associations and even police departments.
When a young mother in Stockholm recently lost track of her four-year-old daughter on a playground, she was able to organise a search party within minutes. Her daughter was found in less than half an hour.
In another case, residents were alerted to the presence of a suspicious man on someone’s yard. Through Trygve, people were able to follow the man from their windows until police arrived. They soon found out the man was responsible for car break-ins and an attempted home burglary.
The free-of-charge app has an inbuilt location feature and allows the users to pay extra to connect to their home security systems.
Källgården stumbled on the idea because his wife felt uneasy about walking from the metro station alone at night. "It is a major social problem that people do not feel secure in their surroundings," he said.
However, the app has proved that people are actually ready and willing to help strangers.
"I think that society is changing fundamentally," said Källgården. "We want to take advantage of that potential. It's important that people feel secure when they know they have people around them whom they can turn to."