Safety pins for Neighbourhoods


Recently, an initiative by The Hindu Downtown seeking to establish a connection with gated communities on the southern fringes of Chennai, took me to Padur.

On the way back, I could travel with other Downtown team members up to the Taramani MRTS station and beyond that, I had to be on my own.

After a long day, the last thing I wanted was getting stuck in traffic during the evening rush hour. So, I went in for the MRTS option, and my travel plan included a train ride to Chintadripet station, where I would take an auto or a cab to my home in Chetpet.

Minutes before the train pulled into the Chintadripet MRTS station,

I booked a cab on my mobile. Detraining, I headed to the entrance of the station and waited for the cab to arrive.

As streams of commuters were flowing into and out of the station and the facility was located on a busy road, I chose to wait for my cab at the entrance, instead of the foyer. I thought this would be safer.

Before long, I was proved wrong. There were catcalls and ribald comments from a few hangers-on near the station. As this section lacked sufficient illumination, these men felt emboldened to do what they did.

And then, the realisation that the cab would not arrive as soon as expected, and an error in the cab-hailing app had given me a false hope, made me extremely uncomfortable, and I sensed a knot forming in the pit of my stomach.

After almost 45 minutes of the ordeal, I hopped into my cab.

On the road, I felt disgust at what I had been subjected to and wanted to do something about it. The least I could do was warn other women of it.

A few days later, I returned to the station, this time, to pin the unsafe needle on certain sections of it on the Safetipin mobile app. For as long as the app runs in the smartphone of a passenger, she will receive an alert when she enters an unsafe location.

Available on Android and iOS platforms, Safetipin allows a person to mark a location safe or unsafe, and also to find the safest route to a destination based on safety scores of the areas on that route.

It also enables friends and family to keep track her/ his journey.

The Safetipin app was created and launched by Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu in 2013.

The safety score of a location is calculated based on many parameters, which include light (streetlights or other lights), open (blind corners and no clear sightline), visibility (no windows and entrances or shops or houses overlook this point); crowd (no one in sight); security (no guards or police visible in the surrounding areas), path (no walking path available), transport (no Metro station or bus stop or autorickshaw stand within a 10 minutes’ walk), space (no one in sight or only men) and feeling (will never return without sufficient escort).

I, subsequently, went on to use the app to check the other features in it. When I entered an unsafe stretch on Chennai Bypass road (near Porur), my app sent an alert message.

However, when I tried inviting my father to track my journey using the ‘Stay With Me’ option, the alert failed to reach him.

I later learnt that the family member must download the app, though I was asked to key in the email address and phone number.

While on another trip, I availed of this option; but my friend, who was assigned to track me, did not receive the alert from the app.

Article Source........The Hindu