The Story Behind the App: Red Zone Map

Annie Millar

We rely on phone applications, or apps, on a daily basis. Without them, our smart phones would simply be used to make calls, something that seems ancient now. There are apps for everything imaginable, including social media, calendars, maps, and fitness trackers. Due to their prevalence in our lives, we tend to overlook the process behind their creation. We overlook the labor, time, and manpower required to execute the apps we take advantage of.

To understand what creating an app entails, I spoke to Theodore (Ted) Farnsworth about his app, Red Zone Map (Red Zone). Red Zone is a mapping technology designed to create safer routes when traveling. As the founder and CEO, Ted Farnsworth began his journey in January of 2015. While traveling from Jerusalem, he recognized how widespread crime was. When traveling through an area where mass murders were occurring less than 25 miles away, if a traveler managed to venture through the wrong town in the wrong country, there could be dire consequences. Although we may not see the type of genocide that occurs in foreign countries, crime is still prevalent here in the United States.

With offices in Tel Aviv, New York City, India, Silicon Valley, and Miami, Red Zone has grown massively from that starting point in a car traveling from Jerusalem. Beginning as a self-funded corporation, Red Zone now has an executive team, as well as 160 employees worldwide.

Understanding how the app functions is key to understanding what makes this technology extremely useful and unique. The app works similar to social media outlets, utilizing crowd sourcing to acquire data. This data is then utilized to help pinpoint where certain criminal activities are taking place, such as shootings, assaults, and robberies. The app then delivers this information directly to your phone in the form of an interactive map, allowing you to see when and where recent criminal activity occurred. So, what exactly makes this app different? It is the first to utilize crowdsourcing to create a worldwide crime database. A database of this magnitude simply does not exist within any government, any entity, or any other app. Even the national Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database is incomplete, only encompassing fifty to fifty-five percent of all available criminal records in the United States.[1]

With a seemingly barren intellectual property market for this technology, Mr. Farnsworth ran with his idea, and he did so with an eye to marketing. The goal was to appeal to the market in order to keep installation costs low, and he did just that. Every time a user downloads an app, the company producing the app is charged an install fee, also known as cost per install (CPI).[2] It is key for mobile app marketers to know their CPI to track revenue.[3] The average CPI for iPhone users in the United States comes in at over two dollars.[4] Red Zone’s CPI comes in at a shocking 0.43 cents per install, all because of marketing.

Mr. Farnsworth is a man who understands the market. As a successful businessman for over thirty years, he knows what works. It is all about getting a direct response, a call to action. In order to get that direct response it is important to appeal to human nature. When an app is able to appeal to human nature in a way that creates a natural response, that app will be successful. Once the market is captured, it is essential to keep that market loyal.

Within the next month, there will be a completely new Red Zone platform. I was given a chance to look at the new interface and explore for myself. The app will be much more than just a map, moving more towards the media spectrum. The app will include real-time stories from across the world. It will appeal to each individual user by allowing them to choose what types of crime to look out for, such as robberies or sexual assaults. The app will work to help keep users in the know about what is happening around them. Mr. Farnsworth is “totally happy with where we’re going,” and users will be too.

 

[1] The Myth of the National Criminal Database. HireRight, (Jan. 27, 2014) http://www.hireright.com/blog/2014/01/the-myth-of-the-national-criminal-database/.

[2] Artyom Dogtiev, What is the average cost per install for different types of apps?, Soko Media Ltd., (Mar.14, 2016) http://www.mobyaffiliates.com/blog/average-cost-per-install-apps/.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.