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Introducing a New 911 Alternative

Over the summer, more Americans than ever began to consider systems of safety that do not immediately engage the police. Yet, in an emergency situation, 911 might still be the only number they think to call. That’s where Subdial comes in: Created and developed by Big Human Labs, this app makes it simple to access help from alternative community resources, based on the specific needs of the situation.

At Big Human, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe: in their city, in their home, in their skin. This summer, as we all watched tragic headlines and protests sweep the nation, a member of our team, Griselda Viteri, began to wonder: How could our company be part of the solution?

An activist who participated in the NYC protests throughout the spring and summer, Viteri saw people sharing community safety resources via Instagram and knew that while the information was hugely valuable, keeping track of it was overwhelming. She began to imagine an app that contained a collection of 911 alternatives, tailored geographically and tagged for specific situations, that would streamline and simplify the process.

"Not every situation requires a police presence,” says Viteri, “and my hope was to make it easier for people to find other kinds of help, depending on the specific needs."

Though she works in the finance department, Viteri was encouraged by her manager to pitch Big Human Labs, the arm of the company that develops in-house ideas into projects. Immediately, everyone was on board—and that is how Subdial began.

In a country where police are the first-responders for everything, an estimated 80% of 911 calls don’t require a police response, according to a 2020 study. We created this free, digital app to help people divest reliance on police departments, in an effort to more effectively solve harm in their own communities.

To do that, our team developed a searchable, straightforward platform that connects users with the help they actually need in emergency moments. On the Subdial app, you’ll find first responder resources for incidents involving mental health, domestic disturbances, non-urgent crimes, homelessness, and other scenarios, for cities across America.


Of course, we’re only Big Humans: to continue refining the app, we look to you, our community of users, for support. If you notice something that would make Subdial even better—or just want to share your thoughts—we hope you’ll be in touch. Now more than ever, it’s clear that we need to come together to solve problems. And only together will we begin to understand what safety systems serve everyone, and how to make it happen.

December 01, 2020TIL