The city is often touted as the safest metropolis, but a number of residents will tell you there are parts of Chennai where one would definitely feel unsafe.
So which are the ‘good’ neighbourhoods, and which are the ‘bad’? And what can be done about them?
To conduct a safety audit of the city, and physically map spaces on a safety scale, city-based NGO, Prajnya, has tied up with ‘Safetipin’, a mobile and online platform that collects information about safety in cities by engaging individuals.
“So far, we have conducted 358 audits in the city, primarily in parts of Royapettah, Tambaram, Shenoy Nagar/Anna Nagar, Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur. We are hoping to reach 1,500 audits in the next six weeks but urgently need volunteers to help,” said Anupama Srinivasan, programme director, Prajnya.
Once this number is reached, ‘Safetipin’ will be formally launched in Chennai so that users will have a database to begin with, she said.
How this works is simple: between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., volunteers with a smartphone that has the ‘Safetipin’ app go to a location in the city, pin the spot on a map using GPS and then rate the spot.
The parameters for rating include lighting, security, access to public transport and people around, and also a subjective ‘feeling’ of the place. Based on the audit, the location is given either a green (safe), amber (less safe) or red (unsafe) rating.
The idea behind the initiative is two-fold. The primary aim is for residents, especially women and visitors to the city, to be able to see which locations are considered ‘unsafe’.
Another aim is to collect the data and give it to civic authorities so they can remedy the situation — improve streetlighting in an area, for instance.
Soon, said Kalpana Viswanath, co-founder of ‘Safetipin’, the audits per location will be aggregated and each neighbourhood will be given a rating. “The initiative is present in seven cities as of now, and has two international partnerships in Jakarta and Bogota,” she said. Ms. Viswanath said that while this is not an emergency app, it does have a tracking feature — if two people have the app on their phones, one can track the other’s progress on a journey from one point to another in the city, for instance.
For 25-year-old Bezaleel Azariah, a volunteer who has completed 99 audits in Tambaram, the focus is on making the city safer.
“It’s not just for women — it’s for men too. The audit takes just five minutes but it is an important and useful tool for cities,” he said.
Article Source...The Hindu