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How Mobile Apps are Making Cities Safer for Women

How safe do you feel in the streets of Bogota, Jakarta or major cities in India such as Delhi and Chennai? That’s a question the Safetipin app has been asking users since it launched in 2013 following the highly publicized case of a young woman gang raped on a bus in Delhi. The app crowdsources information on how safe a city is based on nine parameters, including lighting availability, visibility and a person’s own feeling of safety. This data helps inform other users — women in particular — which areas in a city are safe for travel or walking, particularly at night, and which ones are best avoided. A new feature allows friends and family members to monitor one’s whereabouts. The app launched in Delhi, but has since expanded to other Indian cities, as well as overseas. In 2016, this included parts of Quezon City, a highly urbanized city in Metro Manila, with a population of nearly 3 million. The launch in the Philippines is part of a pilot project initiated by the Youth for Asia team of the Asian Development Bank’s NGO and Civil Society Center. The pilot, led by Lee Lambert and Shruti Mehta, mobilized close to 150 youths, mostly university students, to conduct safety audits in parts of Quezon City, such as in Katipunan, where there are several universities, including Ateneo De Manila University and University of the Philippines. The activity allowed the team to get a snapshot of how safe particular areas are in Quezon City for pedestrians and commuters based on close to 2,000 pieces of audited information. They found that not all locations have good lighting, some areas are not as accessible for transport, and half did not have any security presence. But gathering the data is just one part of the story. The long-term goal is for such information and ICT solutions to be more integrated into ADB projects, with youth as an important stakeholder in the process, Lambert and Shruti told Devex. The Safetipin in particular could be a useful tool for ADB’s gender, urban and transport sector and thematic groups, they said. Most projects have a preparatory stage, where the first 18 months to two years of the project include a lot of data collection, Lambert said. This data helps inform the basis for how much loan is needed, or what further technical assistance the government may need to accomplish its development plan. The idea is for such information on city safety to be included in that preparatory phase, he added. “For a long-term perspective, what we hope is that any project that has livable cities, smart cities, urban cities design, safety is an important component and youth an important stakeholder of those cities,” Mehta said. “So getting young people to provide data on the safety of cities that then governments can use to [make changes], that’s a model we want to see in the long term.” The Youth for Asia team has partnerships with several youth organizations in the region, such as the Global Shapers Community and AIESEC, one of the largest youth-run nonprofit organizations with presence in over 125 countries. The mobilization of large numbers of youth and the potential integration of Safetipin data in ADB projects would help set the stage for apps such as Safetipin to move the needle on safety in a large-scale setting. “If they have the resources then something gets done on the ground,” said Kriti Agarwal, program manager at Safetipin. “No other partner organization has reached the stage where we are budgeting and then presenting that [budget] proposal to the government.” Safetipin’s data, however, has been shared with and used by governments in places such as Delhi, where a campaign is ongoing to illuminate dark areas across the city. This is only one initiative against a set of parameters Safetipin looks at when gauging safety in the streets. The Youth for Asia team at ADB is working on a series of toolkits that could provide guidance to ADB’s sector and thematic groups and other interested organizations wishing to tap the youth and conduct their own safety audits in their respective cities. Their pilot, Lambert said, proves the model can be replicated. Articles Source....devex

Govt starts ‘dark spots’ illumination work

Fulfilling one of its major poll promises of illuminating dark spots as a step to ensure women’s security in the city, the Delhi government on Saturday launched a project to illuminate 7,438 dark sports falling in North and East MCD areas. The Delhi government has set a target to complete the project before March 31.    The work will be conducted by the Public Works Department of the Delhi Government and the NGO Safetipin has been asked to conduct an audit and report to the government. “We will consider the lighting of dark spots to be done only after the Safetipin audit endorses that the work has been satisfactorily done,” said Satyendar Jain, Minister for PWD in the Delhi government after inaugurating the project.    These dark spots were identified by the NGO and the report was submitted to the Delhi Police for their illumination. “PWD has already obtained No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from North and East MCDs for the dark spots falling in their respective jurisdictions,” added the minister. He further added that South MCD has not provided NOC, so the work of illuminating dark spots could not be taken up in South Delhi area.    “Earlier, PWD areas were illuminated and the audit was done by Saftipin, which reported to the department that dark spots had been illuminated. This time also the project will be considered complete after satisfaction of the NGO,” said Jain.    He also expressed hope that the South MCD will also expedite the process of granting a NOC to the PWD so that lighting of dark spots across Delhi could be completed at the earliest. The minister invited suggestions from all stakeholders on how the government could take further steps to make Delhi safe for women.     Responding on the issue of South MCD not giving the NOC to PWD, the spokesperson of the Corporation said: “We have identified 4,800 dark sports in our jurisdiction. These spots have been grouped ward-wise and work order has already been issued. The concerned Councilors of the wards have been given responsibility to verify the illumination by LED lights.”    He further added that South MCD is capable enough to take up the project on its own. “We have replaced 1.98 lakh streetlights with LED lights in our area and we shall complete this project as well,” he asserted. The project to replace street lights in South MCD with LED lights was started on December 25, 2014.     Download MySafetipin App

Delhi government to light up 7483 dark spots identified by SafetiPin by March 2017

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s Public Works Department (PWD) has announced plans to illuminate over 7,000 dark spots across the Capital before the beginning of the next fiscal. Aimed at increasing the safety of female citizens and in pursuance of one of AAP’s most significant electoral promises, PWD Minister Satyendar Jain inaugurated the installation of lights to illuminate 7,483 dark spots identified by NGO SafetiPin, which is intended to be completed by March 31, 2017. A senior Delhi government official said that while the initial phase of the project would largely benefit areas under the jurisdiction of the north and east civic bodies, more spots would be covered by an audit by the NGO concluded that the first phase had been successful. Women’s safety “The dark spots were identified by the NGO. It shared the data with the Delhi Police. Work on the dark spots has been initiated after the PWD obtained the no-objection certificate from the north and east civic bodies,” said a Delhi government official.   The NGO’s report, which was based on the perception of safety in relation to nine different parameters including lighting, the state of walk paths and presence of people — specifically women — on the streets, found prominent stretches in central and south Delhi to be “unsafe”. The “unsafe” stretches included: Man Singh Road, Pandara Road, Bhishma Pitamah Marg, Moolchand Flyover and the Vasant Kunj-Mehrauli Road. While north Delhi also scored higher in some parameters, west Delhi scored the lowest in all parameters except gender usage, which south Delhi scored low in. “We hope that the South MCD will also expedite the process of granting NOC to the PWD so that lighting of dark spots across Delhi can be completed at the earliest,” Mr. Jain said. He added that the government had, and would continue to seek, suggestions from stakeholders on how to make Delhi safe for women. Source...The Hindu

Safetipin Data Collection along cycle tracks in Bogota

Safetipin Data Collection along cycle tracks in Bogota  

Can We Crowdsource To Make The City Safer? This App Shows How

Back in the day, the word ‘crowdsourcing’ was coined (apparently while a story idea was being pitched to an editor at Wired Magazine) to explain the phenomenon of outsourcing work to an internet-using ‘crowd’. Although the word itself was used to describe businesses employing the practice, over the years it has evolved and adapted itself to various uses. Since the idea was based on sourcing work to a ‘crowd’, it is no surprise that the ‘crowd’ itself takes the tool in its own hand at times. Wikipedia, a widely used online resource, is for instance a creation almost in its entirety, by netizens. Safetipin is another such initiative, which uses crowdsourcing to generate safety information on a city. Delhi, for instance, tops the list of mega cities in this country for nearly all major crimes – whether it’s murder, rape, or abduction. While the government and police fail to deal with it, it isn’t surprising that citizens have taken initiatives to make the city safe for themselves. And they are using the power of crowdsourcing to achieve this. Safetipin uses nine parameters such as lighting, transportation, gender diversity, even the ‘feeling’ of safety, to generate a safety score for an area using a set of four apps. These apps help perform audits using each of these parameters. So, if you’re walking down an empty lane and the street-light isn’t functioning, you can set a score for both people density and streetlights in the area using these apps. To ensure that this data is also available to app users travelling to an area that has not been audited by individual users, Safetipin also facilitates audits through community volunteers. The safety information is then used to urge the administration to improve infrastructure in their area. So far, Safetipin has conducted audits in partnership with NGOs and their volunteers to mobilise women to conduct audits in a region of Delhi. They have also done audits in Karnal in Haryana with the assistance of the Karnal Police. “Audit training sessions were held for both male and female police officers, and local volunteers. Together they conducted around 600 manual audits covering the entire city,” says Kriti Agarwal, who works on data analysis at Safetipin. Similarly, female architects from the New Delhi Municipal Council conducted audits around metro stations in the NDMC zone “to improve last mile connectivity.” The one concern one may have with the apps is whether they might promote people taking precautionary measures, which can put a woman’s autonomy at stake. However, co-founder Kalpana Vishwanath says that although the apps were envisaged to help individual women make safer decisions, the larger goal is to “share the data so as to get stakeholders to improve urban environments.” In Badarpur, for instance, Agarwal told YKA, an audit was done by women from the local community facilitated by Safetipin and another NGO. This move resulted in local authorities improving lighting in the area. This also happened in Sunder Nagar. In the age of smartphones, crowdsourcing data could be an effective tool in solving a problem and this is rising trend around the world. Producing impact, however, is not always easy. According to Vishwanath, while authorities are responsive when comprehensive data is shared with them, it takes time to get public authorities to respond. The worldwide use of the app also remains a hurdle as organised audits have been done only in and around Delhi. However, with Delhi’s crime rate, this is probably an important first step. Furthermore, when the power is with the people, one can at least hope for change. Download Personal Safety App Women Safety App Family Tracker App

Safer City Project prepares to launch SafetiPin App

The Safer City Pilot Project for Belmopan is preparing to launch its new SafetiPin Application, to help increase citizen security in the nation’s capital. The Ministry of National Security spearheads the project, with funding from the Evidence-based Information Management on Citizen Security in Central America and the Dominican Republic (InfoSegura) Project. Project Liaison Officer, Cuffa Ramirez, explained today Saturday that the project will launch the app on Monday August 1, at which time it will be free to download on the App Store and Google Play Store, for the residents of Belmopan. Ramirez explained that through the app’s global positioning system, when residents encounter something in their neighborhoods which can be viewed as unsafe, they will be able to pinpoint that location. She said that with this type of information being reported, it can be passed on to the relevant authorities to have the issues addressed. “The app is based on perceptions, and deals with a broad range of safety issues.” Ramirez said. “So if you see a dark street, or an over grown lot, or some hazardous infrastructure, you can pin that.” The project will draw on the support of several stakeholders in the city of Belmopan, such as the Belmopan City Council, Belize Electricity Limited, Belize Water Services, and the Belmopan branch of the Belize Police Department. The success of the launch is expected to guide the project into phase two.......source...reporter   Personal Safety App Women Safety App GPS Tracker App Family Locator App Family Tracking App  

Women safety in Smart Cities

The rapid pace and nature of urbanization throughout the world has thrown up new challenges for governments, and their populations. Urban spaces provide new opportunities for people to build their homes and lives, but also pose many problems for their citizens. Women face the fear of sexual violence as a constant threat to their ability to move around, to work and their general well-being. There is increasing concern about women’s safety in cities over the past few years. The fear of violence in public spaces affects the everyday lives of women as it restricts their movement and freedom to exert their right as citizens of the city—freedom to move, study, work, and leisure. Smart cities have become the buzzword today. There is great variation in what is being seen as a smart city. In some cities, it means a focus on technology whereas in others there is a clear vision of the changes it will bring about. Smart agenda include looking at a range of aspects of cities including water, electricity, sanitation, housing, health, education and safety. One aspect of smart cities is in seeking new solutions to these problems which build on technological innovations and improve governance. Smart cities should build on the idea that technology must enrich society and the lives of people in ways that are practical. One of the areas where technological innovations have come up in the past few years has been in addressing women’s safety in cities. Post the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, we have seen many mobile apps in the market. How effective are these in addressing enhanced gender safety in cities is a question that comes to mind. Many of them are emergency apps which support women in situations of danger or crisis by providing link to the police and others who can help them. Further there are now people building wearable devices that provide the same services. These apps aim to equip women to deal with dangerous situations. It is essential to create a dialogue between smarter and safer cities. Safety cannot only be about CCTV cameras and greater surveillance. It must focus on how people can feel safer and how they are able to feel more ownership and engagement with urban processes. Citizen participation in governance is often mentioned in smart city documents and this must be realised as a two-way process of engagement. Keeping this in mind, Safetipin, a mobile application which collects information about public spaces was developed. At the core of Safetipin is the safety audit that measures nine parameters, including lighting, the state of the walk path, as well as the presence of people and specifically women on the streets, the availability of police, public transport and ‘eyes on the street’. Each audit appears as a pin on the map and is used to compute the safety score of an area. Safetipin App has been designed both as a tool in the hands of individual women who can access information about safety in the city and as a method of collecting data on a large scale for city authorities to use for better planning and governance. An individual user can conduct a safety audit, pin places where she feels unsafe or has faced any form of harassment. She is also able to see all the information that has been uploaded by others and make informed decisions about moving around the city safely. Women (and men) can see the safety score of any place in the city and can also use it when they visit new cities. For the city authority, Safetipin provides large-scale data and a platform for interaction with citizens on their safety concerns. In order to help city governments, Safetipin data is shared with recommendations. Thus the app is able to show dark areas, unsafe areas, deserted areas and how these can be improved. They are able to respond and citizens can give feedback. It thus is a tool to create safer and more inclusive public spaces in cities. Technology is one important aspect of smart cities, and it is important to create and share technologies that address the needs of the most vulnerable people in cities. Cities are economic, social and political spaces for people to claim their rights and citizenship. It must be seen as a living organism and the discourse of the smart city needs to engage with citizenship along with services and infrastructures. If smart cities are defined merely by technology and infrastructure, it will remain an alien idea. It is by seeing it within the context of living in a city and the citizen that we can humanise the concept. Along with smart cities, we also need safe, caring and shared cities where more people feel a sense of ownership. Kalpana Viswanath is co-founder, Safetipin. She has led research studies on violence against women in public spaces in the city.   Download .......... My Safetipin App

"Safetipin" features as one of the innovative initiatives for safer cities for all.

Target 11.7 of the SDG on cities aims to “provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.” Public spaces are critical in cities because they are the places where exchanges happen and society mixes. However, many cities around the world lack adequate and safe public space, restricting the opportunities of many, including women. Learn from four cities around the globe that have tried to provide safer cities for all.   In Delhi, parents also insist that their daughters return home before sunset. Fear of sexual assault is as real as in Brazil. Safetipin has been working to combat that. The organization uses a map-based mobile phone app that crowds sources data from users and trained auditors to enable cities to become safer. Input from users about what they see or feel are quantified through specific indicators, like lighting or visibility, into safety audits and safety scores for hundred of ‘pins’ or locations across the city. In addition to providing safety information, My Safetipin gathers big data that will inform urban stakeholders like the police, urban planning departments, and policymakers in their endeavors to improve safety conditions. Mukta Naik takes the example of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Public Works Department which are successfully leveraging this data to improve lighting in different parts of the city.   These articles presented initiatives from around the world to provide safer cities to all. Check out more of the discussion on innovations for greater equitability on URB.im and contribute to the debate. Source....HuffingtonPost   Download from google Play Store -------   Mysafetipin App    

Read how Safetipin can Empower, Enable and Engage you in Making your City Safer

There’s now an app that can measure how safe an area is, based on crowdsourced data.Kalpana Vishwanath and Ashish Basu are the co-founders of Safetipin, an app they created with the intention of making public spaces safer for women. First created and launched in India, the idea took its origin from the fear that women and girls experience before traveling to or through certain areas which were known to be unsafe. In India, the debate on sexual violence and how to curb it rages on. Recent years have seen governments pass stricter, more stringent laws and increase security forces, and even pass a law making it compulsory for public buses to install a panic button.   Safetipin crowdsources information based on nine factors in order to measure how safe the area in question is. These factors are lighting, openness, visibility, people density, security, walk path, transportation in the area, gender, and feeling.   In partnership with Uber, Safetipin is planning to expand to 50 cities across Africa, Asia, and South America. These safety scores are useful to the police and other law enforcement agencies in determining whether security in the locality needs to be upped. They can help the police make unsafe areas safer, fix broken amenities, and repair roads. The scores also have the potential of determining the real estate value of the area, as well as increasing or decreasing the business of hotels and restaurants. The co-founders of the app aim to empower its users with knowledge that can enable them to make informed decisions and get from A to B safely. Article Source........global citizen   Download............My Safetipin App  

In Gurgaon, going to office is a risky business

Counted among one of the fastest growing corporate hubs in the country, Gurgaon is home to more than 250 Fortune500 companies. But it seems that the city has been unable to provide a safe environment to its large number of office goers, especially women. A safety audit conducted recently by social enterprise Safetipin has found that all major corporate or commercial hubs in Gurgaon score low on safety parameters. In the survey, the hubs were rated on nine parameters- lighting, openness, visibility, crowd, security, footpaths, transport, gender usage and feeling of safety. Areas with average scores below 1 out of 5 have been rated ‘poor’, those with scores between 1 and 3.4 have been rated ‘average’ and the ones with scores above 3.4 have been rated ‘good’. Interestingly, among the six commercial hubs-- MG Road, Golf Course Road, Sector 34, Sector 44, Cyber City and Udyog Vihar-- only MG Road has scored above 3 out of 5. Golf Course Road, which has several offices, hotels and posh condominiums, was ranked one of the lowest with a score of only 1.6 out of 5. Safetipin has rated the area ‘average’. The safety scenario of the area is important as at least 15 projects have been planned here, including expansion of Golf Course Road to make it a 16-lane expressway and southward extension of the Rapid Metro from the Sikanderpur station to Sector 56.Commuters passing through the area and corporate employees working here said though it is being developed rapidly, safety has not been given due importance. They said there is the very little police presence in the area most of the times.“Thousands of people come to this area every day but it has no streetlights, sign boards or footpaths, making commuting very difficult. Also, policemen are rarely seen patrolling the area,” said Ankita Singh, whose office is in the area. Similarly, the DLF Cyber City road, a 2-km long circular loop which has more than 10 buildings, has scored only 2.3 out of 5, which is ‘average’. The buildings house hundreds of corporate offices where over three lakh employees come to workevery day. Most of those working in the area agreed with the survey results. According to them, the place is plagued by several problems like lack of footpaths, police presence and streetlights. Women working in the area say a lot of stretches there are dark and they feel unsafe at night.“There is a wine shop very close to my office and a lot of people park their vehicles there at night,” said Yashika Batla, an employee of a Gurgaon-based MNC who lives in Delhi. Udyog Vihar, which has several companies in and around it, has also scored low in the audit. It has been given a score of only 2.9 out of 5, which is also ‘average’. Office-goers complain that public transport facilities and last-mile connectivity in the area are very poor.“The area is lined up with big and small firms, but there is no last-mile connectivity in Udyog Vihar. It is difficult to find an autorickshaws in the area, especially at night. Also bus services are not available here,” said Ridhima Singh, employee of an MNC in the area.Similarly, Sector 44, which has several offices, hotels and even a cultural hub, Epicentre, has not scored high. The sector has scored 1.5, performing badly on four parameters of security, transport, lighting and gender usage. Sector 34, which has the office of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, has also fared badly in the survey, scoring an average of 2.1.“There are a lot of dark stretches around Sector 34. Another major problem faced by us is frequent waterlogging,” said Anuraga Basu, a resident of Sector 34. Pooja Misra, an employee of a private firm in Sector 44, said, “The area is crowded all the time but we rarely see police patrolling the roads.”Surprisingly, MG Road is among the top scorers in the commercial area category, with an average score of 3.4.The road, with nine malls on each side and a metro station, is infamous for poor safety, with several incidents of drunken brawls being reported from here in the past. Residents of the area said though the area is well-lit and has many options for last-mile connectivity like autorickshaws, buses and metro, it is unsafe at night.“My parents do not allow me to travel alone on MG Road after 9pm. There are several bars and clubs and there have been cases where drunken men have created a nuisance on the road,” said Harshita Pande, a resident of the city. Even four Metro stations-- Huda City Centre, Iffco Chowk, MG Road, and Sikanderpur-- in the city have not passed the safety test.No Metro station, other than the one on MG Road, scored an average of more than 2 out of 5 in the Safetipin audit.Iffco Chowk Metro station scored the lowest with an average score of only 1.5, followed by the Huda City Centre station with an average score of 1.7. According to metro commuters, there are many dark and deserted stretches around these stations and this makes them unsafe. Also, the last-mile connectivity is poor and police presence is very low. “There is very little security around metro stations. CISF officials keep a strict vigil inside the stations but as one steps out, there is no security at all. Last-mile connectivity is also a problem,” said Nikita Sharma, a college student. The police, meanwhile, said they are taking several initiatives to make the city safer.“The police have taken serious initiatives like ‘Romeo Free Gurgaon’ and community policing. We will make more efforts to ensure that the residents of Gurgaon feel safe on roads,” said Balbir Singh, deputy commissioner of police (crime), Gurgaon..Article Source..Hindu Stan Times Article Source..Hindustan Times