A few weeks ago, we got a call from the Police saying that the DCP South-West, Suman Goyal, wanted to talk to us about SafetiPin mobile safety app and could we be there for a meeting. Given that we are always willing to talk to anyone who will listen, actually getting a cold call (because that is what it was) from the police was a novelty.
One of the features of SafetiPin mobile safety app is the ability to do safety audits on a smartphone. The audits show up as pins on a map and have a score. The pins are colored to represent the extent of safety at that point – green is safe, amber less so, and red unsafe.
Anyway, we landed up at the office of the DCP Police. We were told that madam was finishing off a meeting and would be ready in a while. We were ushered in after about 5 minutes. The room was full of police officials. We thought we would get a chance to speak after that meeting was over – but it turned out they were all there to discuss SafetiPin safety app.
The DCP had read about SafetiPin in the paper, had downloaded it, used it, and fully understood how it worked. We did not have to give an overview to SafetiPin safety app – she did – explaining it to her colleagues. She just wanted to have a discussion on how we could collaborate. She was interested in much more than what the police could do; she was interested in what the police could facilitate. After months of listening to service providers explaining to us that their jurisdiction was limited, here was someone who wanted to see if she could do something beyond it.
She had a very simple articulation of what she wanted to do. She wanted to convert red pins to green ones. I have been using that quote ever since – if we could all just convert red pins to green ones, safety in our city would improve immeasurably.
We offered to do safety audits ourselves to move things along and did. Her idea was to have a full program to convert red to green pins. A few days later we get a call from her office saying that they would organize a presentation to the residents of Dwarka (which is in the jurisdiction of South-West Delhi, and we had done audits there), on a Sunday (which was two days away) and could we come and make a presentation.
The venue was finalized on Saturday evening. When we landed up on Sunday, there was again the full contingent of police officials, a tent had been set up, and more than 100 resident association members were in attendance. And thus was born project SALAMAT – an initiative by the South-West Delhi police and SafetiPin, to improve safety in the area.
The residents had many complaints – a lot of them being about lighting. But there was not a single voice raised in complaint about the police officials. Many of the residents knew their police officials by name and shared stories about how helpful they were. It was an amazing experience – the police get a lot of bad press, but not here.
It’s been a week since the meeting. We are doing a few more safety audits as well to make sure the entire area is covered properly. And Dwarka is a newly developed area with many challenges. And there is the matter of jurisdiction. The police cannot improve lighting. But if one group decides to lead a change, it is very likely to happen.
Watch this space for more updates as project SALAMAT develops.