OPINION: Inappropriate response to serious problem

EVER been so tanked you can't find your car?

Hell, maybe you're not entirely sure if you came by car or even if you actually own one.

Don't worry. There's an app for that.

Ever been so drunk that you're not sure you can find your way to the next pub?

Perhaps you're struggling just finding your way to the nearest exit, or still stuck in the toilets, trying to crack the lock on the toilet stall door? Don't worry. There's an app for that.

Ever been so blind that everything you know to be smart and sane, everything ever instilled in you by parents, every grain of common sense has vanished and now you are walking home alone through a deserted industrial estate?

Don't worry. There's an app for that.

Turns out the good folk at the Newcastle City Council have you covered.

As reported recently on radio, "Getting around safely in Newcastle after the sun goes down is about to get a little easier".

Now that's a headline for the next City of Newcastle tourism campaign!

According to the council's Liveable City director Frank Cordingley, the app Newcastle After Dark "helps people find out where they are and how to get where they want to go".

Last I checked, we already have that covered.

It's called a map. On the off-chance that you have neither a Universal Business Directory, global positioning system (GPS) technology nor access to Google Maps, it's comforting to know that the Newcastle City Council has got your back.

The app will tell you which is the safest route to take on your way home - or on your way to the next pub.

The council has even placed "walk smart" stickers on sign posts and footpaths.

I'm all for the promotion of personal safety but have to seriously question the "smarts" in a smartphone app that does little more than tell you to "stay in the light", before directing you to the nearest watering hole.

If getting around safely in Newcastle after the sun goes down is a problem, then fix it.

Newcastle knows that reducing the supply and availability of alcohol is the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related violence.

It knows from first-hand experience - 3am closing times introduced in Newcastle led to a 35 per cent reduction in after-dark assaults.

The truth is, the After Dark app doesn't even qualify as a band-aid solution.

Chances are, if you're too drunk to find your car, you'll probably struggle to operate your smartphone . . . that is if you haven't already dropped it in the toilet.

Michael Thorn is the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education

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