App aims to make 'Hey Sexy' a sound of old New York

NEW YORK, April 24 Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:14pm EDT

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NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Exasperated by the wolf whistles and cat calls that seem to be the universal welcome for women passing construction sites? New York City is creating an app for that.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, said on Tuesday that $20,000 in city funding has been approved for development of a mobile-phone application to fight sexual harassment on the streets and subways.

It will be developed by the creators of hollabacknyc.com, a website that asks people to use camera phones to take a photo or video of their harasser and post it online. The new app is expected to work in a similar fashion but could also alert authorities to particularly egregious offenders.

"Harassers out there take note - We're going to know who you are, where you are, what you said and how many times you said it," Quinn told reporters.

"The days of thinking you can make life uncomfortable for women and girls are going to be over through old-fashioned girl power and 21st Century technology."

Research to develop the app is still underway but it will likely feed information into a collection center, Quinn said.

Review of the data may lead to sensitivity training for workers in particularly offending professions or for residents of badly behaved neighborhoods, she said. The most offensive data may be funneled to the New York City Police Department.

"Sometimes catcalling can be harassment or aggravated harassment," Quinn said. "It's a complete violation of someone's right to exist freely and safely in this city and it is also a terrible message to young boys that this is the way grown men conduct themselves." (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and David Brunnstrom)

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