Safe Return Home Service diversified to protect night-time commuters in Seodaemun-gu
Safe Return Home Service diversified to protect night-time commuters in Seodaemun-gu
  • Huh Ryun-jung
  • 승인 2016.04.11 11:17
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Seodaemun-gu Office has recently implemented new systems for its Safe Return Home Service. The office initiated the Branch Bus Safe Return Home Service and Community Night Patrol in March 2015 and this January respectively.
The Safe Return Home Service was introduced in 2013 to create a safe neighborhood for women in Seodaemun-gu. The program started with the goal of preventing crimes in alleys and keeping roads safe at night. Since then, the district office has offered various services such as the scout service, where women can request bodyguards when they return home late at night.
In addition to implementing the scout service for women, Seodaemun-gu Office became the first district in the country to launch the Branch Bus Safe Return Home Service. After a trial period in December 2015 on branch buses number 3 and 7, the service was expanded to other community shuttle buses in Seodaemun-gu.
By using a Bluetooth device installed inside the district branch buses, the service sends text messages to the bus rider’s guardian as soon as she gets on and off the bus at night. Then text messages about the time of arrival or departure of the user are sent to a maximum of 10 people depending on the number of phone numbers that the user had registered.
Any branch bus rider with a smartphone can use the service by downloading the Safety Service application, registering the phone numbers of the user’s guardians, and turning on one’s Bluetooth and location services on one’s smartphone.
“A lot of women use branch buses at night,” said Park Ki-seon from the Women and Family Department of Seodaemun-gu Office. “Meanwhile, the branch buses pass through narrow alleys, which can be dangerous at night. Therefore, we initiated the service to prevent nighttime crimes targeted at women.”
The Branch Bus Safe Return Home Service is in line with the Community Night Patrol service that was launched in March 2015. This year, 56 volunteers and 56 senior citizens volunteered to be Community Night Patrol members whose roles are to patrol entertainment districts and alleys from 7 to 10 p.m. In groups of two, each team patrols a dong that they are assigned to, which is the smallest administrative unit of a city. During their patrol, the guards report emergency situations to a local police station or call 119.
“The Community Night Patrol has actually prevented crimes from aggravating,” said Lim Kyung-a from Seodaemun-gu Office. “While 545 community patrols took place on average last year, an average of four incidents were reported per month. The incidents included minor fights and crimes such as theft and assault.”
Although the Safe Return Home Service has helped to prevent nighttime crimes and stopped them from progressing to a serious level, not many students are aware of the services. Still, most of them remarked that the programs could improve safety in the area.
“I have never heard of Community Night Patrol,” said Choi Da-un, a junior majoring in English Education. “Still, I think the system would benefit students who leave school late at night. I was sometimes worried in the winter when returning home after a team project that ended late.”
Meanwhile, some students argued that the Branch Bus Safe Return Home Service is unnecessary.
“I welcome the introduction of the service and it might increase safety at night,” said Lee Hyun-min, a junior majoring in Consumer Studies. “However, I would use my phone to tell my parents when I get on and off the bus instead of relying on the Branch Bus Safe Return Home smartphone application to get myself home safely.”
The Seodaemun-gu Office admitted that there are improvements to be made to the Safe Return Home Service. In fact, the Branch Bus Safe Return Home Service currently does not send the location of the user’s arrival or departure during bus ride.
“We plan to install Bluetooth devices at bus stops to resolve this limitation,” Park said. “Also, we will make improvements whenever residents file complaints about the system.”
Currently, the Seodaemun-gu Office is trying to raise awareness of the Safe Return Home Service through press release, television programs, blogs and posters on branch buses.

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