Media

Indian Women Lack Privilege to Roam Around City Spaces, Gurugram is No Exception

Cities are spaces to be explored and discovered. A flâneur is a person who walks the city for pleasure, a stroller, “a man who saunters around observing society”. In the 19th century, the flâneur was a romantic figure in many European cities. A few years ago, a British journalist chose to be a flâneur in Delhi and walked the city in concentric circles and wrote about his experiences in “Adventures in a Mega City”. When I read the book, I was struck by how it is near impossible for a woman to decide to do something similar in any Indian city. Unlike the flâneur, the flâneuse carries an element of transgression as she is not meant to be seen wandering the city. Being a wanderer requires walking around the city, often without any clear aim. Virginia Woolf called this “street haunting”. The privilege of moving around the city without purpose is a right largely given to men in Indian cities. Shilpa Phadke and her co-authors in the book “Why Loiter” speak about this poignantly. Their research shows that women are expected to occupy and use public spaces only when they have a purpose. Women, especially “respectable women”, always have a purpose to be in public spaces, either to go to work, college, market and other defined places. Women in public spaces are almost always moving and not standing in one place, but for some exceptions such as waiting for a school bus. This is what the authors term, the tyranny of purpose. After all, we can’t have women standing around by a paan wala or hanging around a tea stall just chatting with friend(s). In Gurugram, we see men hanging around in many public spaces, including at the numerous liquor vends that dot the city. In the past few years, some young women have challenged this by consciously hanging around in parks and streets. One such campaign by the group Blank Noise is Meet to Sleep, where women are encouraged to sleep in parks and take pictures and post on social media. How often have we seen them sleeping in public parks in all our cities? Across the border, young women in Pakistan have started a movement called Girls at Dhabas where women hang out in dhabas around the city and post pictures of it to create an awareness about the exclusive nature of public spaces in our cities. This exclusion of women stems from the notions of respectability and the constant fear of violence women face in all our cities. Gurugram is no exception to this. Incidents of sexual harassment, stalking and even more serious forms of sexual assault often force women to limit their movement around the city, especially after dark. Data shows that there were 159 and 156 cases of rape in Gurugram in 2016 and 2017, respectively. A cursory glance at this publication will show that cases of harassment and stalking are a regular feature. It is also very likely that cases of sexual harassment are under-reported and passed off as an occupational hazard of living in the city. There are almost no places where women can enjoy or streets where they can be flâneuses. Even Leisure Valley, a public park, is not a place where women could walk comfortably. The response to this social problem has been privatization of spaces where women are given the freedom to walk behind high, guarded walls. But there is nothing to discover in walking around a building in circles. The flâneuse is constantly discovering and stumbling upon the interesting and tucked-away beauty of cities. Cities can be beautiful, not only in the interaction with nature, but even in the built environment which is a testament to human creativity. Flânerie, when done by women, carries an element of disruption and in that, the city itself gets redefined. Article Source.... Hindustan Times

Taxi Firm to Trial UN Women SafetiPin Project

KANNY Taxi Services has volunteered to collect data on safety in public space at night to support UN Women and NCDC in addressing safety of women and girls in Port Moresby. Under the UN Women Safe Public Transport Project, ‘SafetiPin’, a social enterprise based in India, has been engaged to build capacity of local authorities to use smart phone solutions in making Port Moresby safe for women and others. The program is funded through the Australian Government. UN Women has trained five Kanny Taxi drivers on the importance of women’s safety in public places and how to use SafetiPin Nite application to collect data during the night. This is an application on a phone camera that is attached to a car windscreen to capture night -time images. There are five Kanny Taxi’s currently driving around, capturing thousands of images of the actual conditions of the streets of Port Moresby at night. These images will then be analysed by NCDC GIS division with support from SafetiPin using the nine parametres for a safety audit which includes whether or not there is street lighting, openness of line of sight, visibility (how many windows and entrances overlook a point), number of people on the street, presence of security, the condition of the footpath, the proximity of public transport, balance of usage by women and men, and the feeling of security or safety. The data collected will then inform the development of a Safety Map of Port Moresby to assist NCDC and other urban partners in making Port Moresby safer and more inclusive for women and everyone. The UN Women country representative Susan Ferguson commended the support of key partners in working together for a safer Port Moresby. “If women can’t move around safely, they can’t earn a living. We thank our partners, NCDC, Kanny Taxis, YWCA, Ginigoada and the Australian Government for this important contribution to making our city safer for women and girls,” she said. UN Women is committed to promoting safety of women and girls and ending harassment in public spaces. Article Source.....post courier

GPS Without Real-Time Tracking Useless: Experts

All public service vehicles in the country, including buses and taxis, were supposed to get GPS-based tracking devices and panic buttons by April 1. While the work is on in different states, experts believe that unless there is real-time tracking and monitoring of these vehicles, simply installing GPS devices would be an exercise in futility. Suren Uppal, a Supreme Court lawyer associated with NGO Rahat, said it has been more than five years since the Nirbhaya case shook the nation’s conscience but public transport is still not a safe option for women across the country. “The tragic episode was followed by public outcry but there has been no action and just mere words,” Uppal said. “Even if GPS is installed, there is no recognized government mechanism or backend system in place to track these vehicles or respond to emergency calls,” he said. Professor Sewa Ram of the transport planning department of School of Planning and Architecture said the country needs control rooms with a proper network for the effective use of GPS technology. Article Source...Times of India

Women, Wellbeing and the City

Urban wellbeing is a term that refers to people’s sense of wellness and happiness in the city. It is, of course, very difficult to measure and it is not a static concept. People also experience the city in diverse ways which affects their perception of wellbeing. So what does wellbeing mean to a woman or a girl living in a city? Discussions on wellbeing focus on a range of issues, including health and environmental factors. I believe that wellbeing must be seen within a larger context of social and cultural norms and realities. Wellbeing cannot be understood in isolation of these larger social understandings. How do we ensure that gender and women’s perspectives are part of the discussion on wellbeing, and that they are a key component of urban policies and practices? Women occupy urban spaces and engage with the urban fabric in ways that are different from men and often dictated by their gender identity. This means that their experience is shaped by their identity which includes their vulnerabilities, specifically to different forms of discrimination and violence, as well as their role as caregivers (often ascribed to them by social and cultural norms). It is important to mention that all women do not have the same experience with the city and we need to delve deeper into other factors such as age and income. Women as a group tend to have greater care responsibilities, and this has a great impact on their wellbeing. They often tend to be responsible for the health and wellbeing of the whole family, but their own wellbeing can suffer. The work of care is often invisible and requires women to spend a lot of energy. This can have an impact on their health. Wellbeing therefore is affected by inequality and discrimination as well as other factors such as health and environment. For women who live in slums or slum-like settlements, there are several factors which impinge on their physical and mental wellbeing. The availability and access to urban services place a major burden on them. For example, in places where water or toilets are not available within homes, women face an extraordinary burden. They are often the ones who have to collect water, and this has an impact on their health (often having to wake up very early to ensure water is collected, or carrying heavy loads). Having to use open spaces for toilet needs also makes them vulnerable to violence and danger. Violence significantly affects women’s choices and abilities to access opportunities that the city offers. It is not that there is more gender-based violence in cities but the process of urbanization can make women more vulnerable. For example, recent research confirms that women face multiple forms of violence and sexual harassment in cities such as catcalling, groping, stalking and more serious forms like rape and sexual assault. This everyday violence and harassment frames women’s experience of public spaces in the city. Women in cities around the world often lack equal access to public spaces due to fear and violence. They also face exclusion due to social and cultural norms. For example, the simple act of going for a walk is not always that simple. Women have to find places where they feel safe and times during which they feel safe. Furthermore, women’s mobility is hampered by violence and fear, as well as poor public transport services. Traditional transport planning often focuses on male patterns of travel, whereas research has shown that women’s travel patterns can be quite different due to their caregiving role. When we put gender at the center of urban wellbeing, it becomes evident that it is not just an individualized concept, but one that is related to social and cultural factors. Wellbeing becomes a concept that is linked to connections and sociality. Wellbeing comes from being part of a community and city and having a political voice. Cities need to be designed to accommodate the needs and patterns of a wide diversity of people to ensure the wellbeing of all. Therefore, urban policies need to be designed within this framework that recognizes people as living diverse social realities and addresses inequality and discrimination as key factors in creating wellbeing in people’s lives. Article Source.......newcities

Making Cities Safe for Women

WHEN Shiba Kurian alighted from Chennai’s city train, the evening office-returning crowd was thick and jostling. Having booked a ride-hail cab, she walked out to the entrance. Instead of the cab for which she had to wait an hour, ribald comments and derisive laughter came her way from a group of roadside Romeos.   Kurian, a journalist, did not take it lying down. She went the next day to the train station and pinned it an unsafe place in her GPS-enabled mobile application called Safetipin. Henceforth, every time women using this smartphone application are around this station, it would ping them an alert.   “Safety is a social issue. A city becomes safe not so much by policing and closed-circuit television (CCTV), but by people especially women being able to use all public places without fear, which then empowers them by facilitating access to social and economic opportunities,” Kalpana Viswanath, who co-founded the Safetipin application told IPS at the ninth session of the World Urban Forum that ended recently in Kuala Lumpur.   Cities face unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges, with six out of every ten people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. According to UN-Habitat, more than 90 per cent of this growth will take place in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population now lives in cities. Given this growth, urban areas are central to economic opportunities and growth and women cannot be left out of it.   But, today, women and girls across many countries find it challenging to move out safely in cities and realise their potential.   A participatory study by global NGO Plan International for its programme “Because I am a Girl” involving more than 1,000 adolescent girls from five cities across the world reveals that fear of sexual violence is creating “no-go areas” for girls.   The Safetipin mobile application, which is free, has been downloaded 85,000 times across 20 countries, most of it in Indian cities, Manila, Nairobi, Jakarta and Bogota.   Easy to use, it has a set of nine parameters that represents how safe a person feels after dark and helps users audit public spaces like Kurian did.   Parameters include how lighted or not a place is and how open or hemmed in and are objects and people clearly visible. The fourth parameter is a check on people being around or is it deserted; are other women using the space and if a security guard or police is around. The next parameter checks if public transport is readily available. But the most important of all is how the user feels about the place.   The application also directs users to the safest route evaluated on the basis of users’ crowd-sourced data. It displays colour-coded alternate routes and once a route is chosen a Google map opens up. Pick-a-pic is another feature showing two images side by side for users to decide which to go with. If the users are in a new or unsafe place, an alert notification pops up on the screen.   Besides the crowd-sourced data from users, Safetipin integrates a second application that captures night photographs of a city, mounted on a vehicle. These real-time photographs, crowd-sourced data and Google’s big data analysed together, present robust, confirmative technical data that is helping city governments to take remedial action for unsafe spots.   In Delhi, the data and photographs identified 7,800 dark public places that the government had to take note of and fix street lights. In Bogota, Safetipin in partnership with the municipality mapped the 230km of bicycle road. Based on the findings, CCTV cameras, bicycle docks and lights were fixed on the track to improve women bikers’ safety.   “Each month, five million people move to cities in developing countries. By 2030 nearly 1.5 billion adolescent girls will live in cities, but too often they are under-represented in urban safety policies,” according to Plan International.   “Girls in cities contend with both increased risks and increased opportunities. They face sexual harassment, exploitation and insecurity, yet they are also more likely to be educated, politically active and less likely to be married at an early age,” Alana Livesey, Plan’s global manager for its “Safe Cities for Girls” programme told IPS at the WUF9.   Using innovative and participatory tools, Plan’s programme has been able to increase girls’ safety and inclusion in cities.   In Hanoi, a third of adolescent girls in the Plan International survey said they could not access emergency service, notably the police. Lan and Linh (last names not mentioned for protective reasons) two of the young leaders from Hanoi attending the Kuala Lumpur Forum said they undertook group walks at night in dark areas to map risks and raise community awareness about girls’ right to safe public spaces.   “Nearly 10,000 girls use public buses every day in Hanoi,” 13-year-old Lin told IPS. They have distributed leaflets and comic books to more than 8,000 public transport drivers and ticketing staff to drive home the message that safety of girls is their responsibility too. The girls’ campaign has succeeded in getting the government to fix cameras in buses and issue official guidelines against over-crowding.   While there is momentum in addressing women’s safety in public transport in India (and other developing countries), “urban transport investments are largely gender blind, with a limited understanding of the interrelationships between gender and transport inequities”,’ a policy brief by the New-York based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said.   “Sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women and girls’ safety, comfort, convenience and affordability in urban transport,” it cautions.--IPS Article Source....nst.com

Ladies, here are Four Apps that will Help you Stay Healthy and Safe

Modern women face a number of issues owing to their hectic professional life, be it irregular menstrual cycles, skincare issues, or lifestyle diseases. However, a number of start-ups cater to women and help them balance their personal and professional lives. Maya App (Plackal Tech) The app enables women to keep track of their menstrual and physiological health. The Bengaluru-based based start-up, founded by John Paul in 2012, uses data analytics and machine learning to provide insights to women about their health, and is being used by six million women around the globe. Safetipin This app was created and launched by Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu in 2013 with the purpose of providing safety to people, especially women when they are out alone. Safetipin is an application which works by asking users for a “safety audit”. This involves taking photographs of blocks they pass by and rating how safe they feel: from 1 (poor in safety perception) to 5 (excellent). SafetiPin provides night-time GIS data and tools for safer and inclusive cities. Available on Android and iOS platforms, Safetipin allows a person to mark a location safe or unsafe, and also helps to find the safest route to a destination based on safety scores of the areas on that route. As long as the app runs in the smartphone of a person, alerts are sent when they enter an unsafe location. It also enables friends and family to keep track of the journey. BookMyBai The app helps families hire reliable and trusted domestic help who can help with daily chores. The company has helped thousands of women get a part-time job (1 hour to 10 hours). These women, in turn, make Rs 4000 to Rs 12,000 per month. Advancells Started by serial entrepreneur Vipul Jain in 2013, the Noida-based start-up provides stem cell therapies in India. Advancells is offering stem cell treatment for anti-ageing solutions for skin, weakness, fatigue and hair loss. Article Source....hindustan Times

International Women’s Day 2018: These apps can ease your commute

The safety of women has been accorded the highest priority in the recent past, owing to an increase in the crimes against women. Women of the millennial are now moving outside their homes, be it for higher education, employment or post marriage. Travelling alone can be quite daunting, particularly at odd hours. While the government bodies and law agencies aim to improve vigilance, there are technology players alongside who are also coming up with tech-based solutions and wearable devices that can ensure women safety. This Women's Day, here are some corporates and start-ups that have pledged to make travel a lot safer for women by offering shared mobility and smart navigation solutions: Uber: Uber, an on-demand ride-sharing company, has leveraged technology to improve the safety of women riders and women driver-partners-before, during and after every ride. Integration with Delhi Police's HIMMAT app and Kolkata Police's BONDHU app, the riders can now connect with the Police directly in case of an emergency. New technology has enabled Uber to build safety into its service from beginning to end: before a rider even gets into the car, throughout the journey and after they have reached their destination. Moreover, the in-app emergency button is another effective measure towards ensuring rider safety, by providing rapid response to Uber riders. Uber's specially-trained incident response teams are available around the clock to handle any urgent concerns that arise during a trip. Shuttl: Shuttl, a smart bus-based mobility solution is built to take the pain away from your daily commute and reduce congestion on roads. Shuttl's SAFE solution includes several features, like face recognition software, GPS tracked and geo-fenced routes. The Shuttl buses are equipped with a physical and app-based SOS and panic button and unlike other shared mobility platforms. Shuttl's Home Check feature initiates a confirmation call that ensures that the passengers have safely reached their destination. Smart Navigation solutions Google maps: Google Maps is known as one of the best navigation apps present, also, it has been the sole leader for a long time. This application provides various information like expected time of arrival (ETA), real-time traffic, nearest hotels, police stations, petrol pumps and so on, along with best routes for travel. With Google maps, women can keep track of their own location and know exactly where they are heading. Safetipin: Safetipin, a crowdsourcing app, enables the user to check the safety of a particular place. There are various parameters on which the safety of a place is calculated like lighting, whether the location is deserted, are many women seen on the road, how is the walking path, how close can public transport be found. The app has other notable features which allow a friend or family member to track your location. This is beneficial for women who are going to a place for the first time or women traveling alone at odd hours during work. The user can also upload pictures and share their experience while visiting a particular part of the city which can be beneficial for other future visitors. With this application, women can record instances of harassment and security hazards, including broken street lights, open sewers and so on. Article Source.....deccanchronicle

‘सेफ्टी पिन’ एप के जरिए महिलाएं बता सकेंगी हम शहर में कौन सी जगहों पर अनसेफ महसूस करती हैं

इंटरनेशनल वुमेंस डे पर आज पंचकूला नगर निगम ‘सेफ्टी पिन’ नाम से मोबाइल एप लाॅन्च करने जा रहा है। इस एप के जरिये महिलाओं के लिए पंचकूला को सेफ सिटी बनाने के प्रयास होंगे। ऐसा शहर जिसमें महिलाएं या लड़कियां रात के समय भी पूरी तरह सेफ महसूस करते हुए घूम सकें। एप को टूल की तरह इस्तेमाल करते हुए महिलाओं से शहर में अनसेफ जगह की फीडबैक ली जाएगी और इसमें सुधार कराया जाएगा। उत्तर भारत में पंचकूला पहला ऐसा शहर है, जिसमें सिटी को महिलाओं के लिए सेफ बनाने की दिशा में इस तरह का प्रयास किया जाएगा। इसमें सिटीजंस सेफ्टी संबंधी मामलों में सुझाव दे सकेंगे। इस एप को चलाने में कुछ संगठनों की मदद ली जा रही है। इनमें सेफ्टी पिन की कल्पना, वर्ल्ड रिसोर्स इंस्टीट्यूट-इंडिया की सारिका भट्‌ट, रोड सेफ्टी एंड सस्टेनेबल ट्रांसपोर्ट कंसल्टेंट नवदीप असीजा शामिल हैं। यह एप दो तरह से डाटा कलेक्शन का काम करेगी। पहले चरण में सेफ्टी पिन एप से जुड़े संगठनों के प्रतिनिधि शहरभर में घूमकर अनसेफ स्पॉट का पता लगाएंगे। दूसरे चरण में शहर के लोग इस संबंध में एप पर फीडबैक दे सकेंगे। नवदीप असीजा के मुताबिक शहर में घूमकर अनसेफ गली-मुहल्ले, सेक्टर्स को देखा जाएगा। एक हफ्ता टैक्सी में रात को भी घूमेंगे। ऐसी जगह को देखा जाएगा जहां रात को अंधेरा पसरा रहता है। किन स्थानों पर झाड़ियां ज्यादा हैं। कहां पर टॉयलेट्स सुनसान जगह पर हैं या किन में लाइट नहीं है। डिवाइडिंग रोड्स की मॉनिटरिंग टैक्सी और इंटरनल रोड्स को मैनुअली चेक किया जाएगा। महिलाओं से भी अनसेफ स्थानों के बारे में फीडबैक ली जाएगी। डाटा एनालिसिस के बाद रिपोर्ट तैयार की जाएगी। यह रिपोर्ट निगम अफसरों को सौंपी जाएगी। निगम अफसरों को ऐसी जगहों पर रात को पुलिस या वेंडर्स की तैनाती, लाइटिंग व्यवस्था के सुझाव दिए जाएंगे। अफसरों को यह रिपोर्ट इस महीने के अंत तक सौंप दी जाएगी। असीजा ने कहा कि लोगों को आए सुझावों पर निगम द्वारा की गई कार्रवाई के बारे में भी वापस उन्हें जानकारी दी जाएगी। छेड़छाड़ संबंधी जानकारी दे सकेंगे... नगर निगम कमिश्नर राजेश जोगपाल ने कहा कि पंचकूला में महिलाओं के लिए सेफ पब्लिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर बनाने के लिए प्रयास किए जा रहे हैं। सेफ्टी पिन मोबाइल एप इस दिशा में एक कदम है। टीम सार्वजनिक स्थानों पर घूमकर अनसेफ जगह की जानकारी देगी, जिसमें जरूरत के मुताबिक सुधार कराया जाएगा। इन पब्लिक लोकेशंस का नौ पैरामीटर्स-लाइटिंग, ओपननेस, वॉक पथ, सिक्योरिटी, पब्लिक ट्रांसपोर्ट, क्राउड, जेंडर डाइवर्सिटी, विजिबिलिटी और फीलिंग के आधार पर ऑडिट कर रिपोर्ट तैयार की जाएगी। लोग इस मोबाइल एप पर महिलाओं से छेड़छाड़ संबंधी मामलों की जानकारी देने के साथ मैसेज, अलर्ट भेज सकेंगे। इमरजेंसी में पुलिस, एंबुलेंस से संपर्क एप में वन स्टॉप इमरजेंसी फीचर भी होगा। सिटीजंस इसके माध्यम से कोई इमरजेंसी होने पर पुलिस, एंबुलेंस, फायर डिपार्टमेंट आदि से संपर्क कर सकेंगे। इसमें पुलिस, एंबुलेंस को जीपीएस के जरिये यूजर की लोकेशन का आसानी से पता चल सकेगा। एप में सभी पब्लिक सर्विसेज के नंबर्स डिस्प्ले होंगे। इसमें लोग सेफ रूट्स की जानकारी ले सकेंगे। इसमें स्टे विद मी फीचर भी होगा जो यूजर की तरफ से एक्टिवेट करने पर उसके फ्रेंड्स और फैमिली उसकी जर्नी को मोबाइल पर ही मॉनिटर कर सकेंगे। एप से यूजर को नोटिफिकेशन के जरिये नए एरिया या अनसेफ एरिया की भी जानकारी मिल जाएगी। Article Source......Dainik Bhaskar

Making the Case for Road Safety: A Tale of Three Cities

According to the World Health Organization, global road deaths equaled 1.25 million in 2015 – more than the number of people killed annually in homicides. Road safety advocates are striving to cut the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes in half by 2020. To reach that ambitious target, ITDP has been working in Brazil, China, and Mexico using the latest ideas to place people ahead of cars and make roads safer for everyone.   The modern road-safety movement began with Ralph Nader’s 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed, which called out car manufacturers for failing to include seat belts and other safety features in vehicles. Next came the drunk-driving campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s, led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Personal stories of losing children transformed the conversation around road safety, and the organization became one of the most effective and recognizable advocacy charities in the United States. A new revolution is happening around road safety as streets are redesigned and re-engineered to place people—not cars—at the core of their use.   Three exciting ITDP projects are spearheading the efforts of this revolution: supporting Vision Zero in Mexico City, taking a child-friendly approach to design in Changsha, China, and changing the way citizens interact with their streets in São Paulo, Brazil.   In 2015, Mexico City became the first city in a low or middle-income country to adopt Vision Zero. This approach to road safety proposes that collisions are not “accidents” but preventable incidents that can be avoided by systemic action. Sweden launched the concept in the 1990s and watched its traffic deaths drop from 7 per 100,000 to less than 3 per 100,000 in 2014. The approach has been successfully adopted in cities throughout Western Europe too, and more recently in North America. Before Vision Zero policies were implemented, traffic collisions in Mexico City killed around 1,000 people per year—almost three people a day—more than half of them pedestrians or cyclists. To address this challenge, ITDP worked with a coalition of stakeholders to support Vision Zero adoption. As a result, the city set an ambitious target of reducing fatalities by 35 percent through a combination of law enforcement, street design, and sustainable mobility. What’s more, after only seven months of implementation, the policies have led to an 18 percent decrease in road deaths overall.   Despite this initial success, Vision Zero in Mexico City is at a critical juncture. ITDP is working with the FIA Foundation to address data gaps, vulnerable areas such as school zones, and most importantly, the upcoming mayoral elections. As Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera turns his focus to the national stage in 2018, Mexico City will be left without its original Vision Zero champion. ITDP will address this gap directly and work during the campaign to put people-centered street design—and the lives saved through Vision Zero policies—on candidates’ agendas.   ITDP is taking a different approach to road safety in Changsha, a city in central China. A startling statistic – according to China’s Department of Transportation Statistics, more than 18,500 children under 14 years old die in traffic every year – led ITDP to work with the City of Changsha to adopt road-safety measures under the Child-Friendly City initiative. These include street design improvements in school zones and road-safety measures incorporated into the city’s long-term development plan for 2050. So far the city has implemented recommended designs in pilot schools, such as improving the walking space around the school and creating waiting areas for parents picking up their kids. The city has committed funding to make additional improvements to sidewalks, intersections, traffic management, and public spaces around schools throughout the city that will put children firmly at the center of street design strategies.   Finally, in early 2017, ITDP’s efforts to promote Zone 40s, or areas of reduced speed and people-centered street design, in São Paulo looked like it had hit a wall. Mayor João Doria took office in January 2017 after explicitly running—and winning on a campaign aimed at increasing speed limits on key expressways with a slogan of “Speed up São Paulo”. One of the administration’s first actions reinstated faster speeds on the expressways in São Paulo and changed the data source for road safety. The situation looked bleak. However, ITDP and a consortium of partners, including the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety, the World Resource Institute, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and the Global Designing Cities Initiative, didn’t give up. Through strategic engagement and education on the benefits of street redesigns for Zone 40s in the neighborhoods of São Miguel Paulista and Santana, the City embraced the people-centered street redesigns, and has made a commitment to scale up of the efforts throughout the city. This is good news for the citizens of São Paulo as early tests of street redesigns show dramatic improvements to the comfort and enjoyment of pedestrians using the temporarily redesigned streets.   These exciting examples from around the world are just a few of the ways that ITDP is helping cities rethink the way they design their urban environment. As 2018 unfolds, ITDP will move forward with these projects and many more through our field offices. After nearly a century of building for cars, it’s time for cities to put people first.   Article Source........ITDP

Crowd-Sourced Data and a Mobile Phone Application Are Making Cities Safer for Women

When Shiba Kurian alighted from Chennai’s city train, the evening office-returning crowd was thick and jostling. Having booked a ride-hail cab she walked out to the entrance. Instead of the cab for which she had to wait an hour, ribald comments and derisive laughter came her way from a group of roadside Romeos. Kurian a journalist did not take it lying down. She went the next day to the train station and pinned it an unsafe place in her GPS-enabled mobile application called Safetipin. Henceforth every time women using this smartphone application are around this station it would ping them an alert. “Safety is a social issue. A city becomes safe not so much by policing and closed-circuit television (CCTV), but by people especially women being able to use all public places without fear, which then empowers them by facilitating access to social and economic opportunities,” Kalpana Viswanath who co-founded the Safetipin application told IPS at the ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9, February 7 -13) that ended last week in Kuala Lumpur.   On the theme ‘Cities 2030-Cities For All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda,’ WUF9 was organized by UN Habitat and attended by 22,000 participants from 165 countries. The global community committed to localize and scale up implementation with the Kuala Lumpur Declaration which calls for urban centres where no-one and no place is left behind. This was the first Forum to convene since the New Urban Agenda (NUA) was adopted at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016. The NUA aligns with SDG 11 on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Gender equality (SDG 5) is among its various other aims.   Cities face unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges, with six out of every ten people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. According to UN-Habitat, more than 90% of this growth will take place in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population now lives in cities. Given this growth, urban areas are central to economic opportunities and growth and women cannot be left out of it.   But today women and girls across many countries find it challenging to move out safely in cities and realize their potential.   Unsafe streets and public transport stunt women’s economic growth A participatory study by global NGO Plan International for its programme ‘Because I am a Girl’ involving over 1,000 adolescent girls from 5 cities across the world reveals that fear of sexual violence is creating ‘no-go areas’ for girls. Only 3.3% of girls in Delhi reported always feeling safe when using public transport while 45% of girls in Kampala faced with sexual harassment in public transport. In Lima, a miniscule 2.2% of girls reported always feeling safe when walking in public spaces, this earlier study finds.   Easy to use, it has a set of nine parameters that represent how safe a person feels after dark and helps users audit public spaces like Kurian did. Parameters include how lighted or not a place is and how open or hemmed in and are objects and people clearly visible. The fourth parameter is a check on people being around or is it deserted; are other women using the space and if a security guard or police is around. The next parameters checks if public transport is readily available. But the most important of all is how the user feels about the place. The application also directs users to the safest route evaluated on the basis of users’ crowd-sourced data. It displays colour-coded alternate routes and once a route is chosen a Google maps opens up. Pick-a-pic is another feature showing two images side by side for users to decide which to go with. If the users are in a new or unsafe place, an alert notification pops up on the screen. Viswanath said she invariably activates Safetipin’s geo-tagged ‘Stay with me’ feature to her husband’s phone when returning late from the airport in her hometown Delhi, who can then monitor real-time her cab’s movement.   Young working women in the 25- 40 age group are the largest users of the application. It’s when they start living independently that safety becomes a huge concern for women, according to Viswanath. When in a new city, these women check out safety of hotels and paying-guest accommodation neighborhoods.   “Interestingly, while younger women of 18 to 20 years old as long as they are living with their parents are not too concerned about their own safety, their parents download the application to monitor their safety,” she added.   Besides the crowd-sourced data from users, Safetipin integrates a second application that captures night photographs of a city, mounted on a vehicle. These real-time photographs, crowd-sourced data and Google’s big data analysed together, present robust, confirmative technical data that is helping city governments to take remedial action for unsafe spots.   In Delhi, the data and photographs indentified 7800 dark public places that the government had to take note of and fix street lights. In Bogota, Safetipin in partnership with the municipality mapped the 230 kilometres of bicycle road. Based on the findings, CCTV cameras, bicycle docks and lights were fixed on the track to improve women bikers’ safety.   Adolescent girls are making cities safer for themselves “Each month, 5 million people move to cities in developing countries. By 2030 nearly 1.5 billion adolescent girls will live in cities, but too often they are under-represented in urban safety policies,” according to Plan International. “Girls in cities contend with both increased risks and increased opportunities. They face sexual harassment, exploitation and insecurity, yet they are also more likely to be educated, politically active and less likely to be married at an early age,” Alana Livesey, Plan’s global manager for its ‘Safe Cities for Girls’ programme told IPS at the WUF9.   Using innovative and participatory tools, Plan’s programme has been able to increase girls’ safety and inclusion in cities.   In Hanoi, a third of adolescent girls in the Plan International survey said they could not access emergency service, notably the police. Lan and Linh (last names not mentioned for protective reasons) two of the young leaders from Hanoi attending the Kuala Lumpur Forum said they undertook group walks at night in dark areas to map risks and raise community awareness about girls’ right to safe public spaces.   “Nearly 10,000 girls use public buses everyday in Hanoi,” 13-year-old Lin told IPS. They have distributed leaflets and comic books to over 8000 public transport drivers and ticketing staff to drive home the message that safety of girls is their responsibility too. The girls’ campaign has succeeded in getting the government to fix cameras in buses and issue official guidelines against over-crowding.   While there is momentum in addressing women’s safety in public transport in India (and other developing countries), ‘urban transport investments are largely gender blind, with a limited understanding of the interrelationships between gender and transport inequities,’ a policy brief by the New-York based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said.   ‘Sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women and girls’ safety, comfort, convenience and affordability in urban transport,’ it cautions.  Article Source.........ipsnews.net