Kalpana Viswanath, Co-founder, and CEO of Safetipin, a social enterprise using data and technology to support cities in their endeavor to become safer, more inclusive and smarter Safety of women and gender inclusion in cities has become an important concern around the world. Data shows that women are at risk of sexual harassment and violence in many, if not all, cities around the world, especially after dark. This prevents women and girls from participating in city life without fear and threat of violence. A study by Hollaback and Cornell University in 2014 interviewed over 16,000 women and reported that over 50% of the women in Europe and 75% of the women in the United States had faced their first incident of harassment before the age of 17. Over 81% of the women interviewed had experienced some form of sexual harassment. Other studies conducted in Delhi, Dar es Salaam and Rosario revealed that women had experienced some form of sexual violence in a city setting. In 2003, more than half of the world’s inhabitants became city dwellers. The Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations formulated in 2016 now have a stand-alone goal on inclusive urbanization and human settlements, with a specific target on gender inclusion: “universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities”. It is now being increasingly recognized that cities are spaces where people should have the right to access public spaces and that public spaces are a public good. This is supported by the targets of SDG5 which focuses on the elimination of “all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.” The New Urban Agenda adopted at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016 provides key principles for inclusive urbanisation, with an emphasis on gender inclusion. Using technology, tools can provide quick access, privacy as well as trigger responses. Over the years, there have been many initiatives aimed at making women feel safer and making cities and public spaces in particular more inclusive.Today, technology and the digital space is an important one, both in terms of finding solutions as well as reaching out to and connecting larger numbers of people, especially the young. Some interesting initiatives include online mapping of sexual harassment and unsafe spaces such as HarassMap in Egypt. Others are apps that seek to map the safety of public spaces. Safetipin, developed in India, is one example of an app which has converted the safety audit tool into a digital platform. It is interesting that many of these innovations have arisen in developing countries, and that they are now being used in many parts of the world. As we know, gender-based violence is not only a concern for developing countries. Mobile applications could be part of the solution. As mobile apps allow women to instantly access to the most current data, it is thus a tool that helps women to determine the safety of the area they are in. Using technology, tools can provide quick access, privacy as well as trigger responses. For example, after some incidents of violence in taxicabs, some countries have ordered the drivers to install panic buttons inside the vehicles for women to use. There are also many apps that include panic buttons and allow women to reach out to people or the police in a dangerous situation. Governments need to ensure that ICT policies aim to increase access for disadvantaged groups. But we know that the digital gender gap is still there, reaching 12% in 2016. This gender divide is higher in rural areas and also has an age dimension: among 15-24- year-olds, the gender gap is 2.9% in low- and middle-income countries. It grows among the 25-74-year-olds across all countries, but is higher for low- and middle-income countries (7.7%) compared to high-income countries (3.5%). When looking at the 75+ age group, the gender gap becomes significantly larger, with an average gap of 45.8% across all countries. It is obvious that there are several factors that play a role in the gender divide, and we need to have policies that can address these in a proactive manner. In an ever-increasingly connected world, the digital divide will affect people’s ability to access information and opportunities. Governments need to ensure that ICT policies aim to increase access for disadvantaged groups. The private sector, a major player in the digital revolution, also needs to formulate policies and practices that address this divide and find ways to reach the more underserved populations. We need to continuously collect gender-disaggregated data to understand the problem in order to find solutions. More technology has to be directed towards addressing problems that women face, both online and offline. The gender digital gap is at its lowest among the youth. Therefore, technology is a very effective way to reach young women as well as young men in the effort of building gender inclusive cities and boosting women’s empowerment. Equitable access has to be part of the agenda, not only for governments but also for the private sector, as it largely owns and determines the agendas of the tech world.

Safetipin participated in UN WOMEN National Consultation on Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces

On 24th October 2017, UN WOMEN held a one day National Consultation on ‘Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces’. The organization invited NGOs from across the country working on the topic of Safe Cities. In tandem with the government initiative of making 100 cities smart in India; the stakeholders through their program interventions are auditing the capacities of cities to transform itself within the government’s timeline and as per its expectations. Centre for Social Research (CSR) was one of the invitees to the Consultation. The agenda of the UN WOMEN hosted National Consultation was to brainstorm on certain aspects that define the extent smartness and safety. These parameters considered urban planning / public space designs, public infrastructure, public transport, law enforcement, access to education, civic awareness and participation. Apart from CSR, participants represented other esteemed civil society organizations of Breakthrough, Pravah, Safetipin, She Says, Gaon Connection etc. Along with the team of UN WOMEN India, Ms. Sanya Seth, Ms. Anju Dubey Pandey and Ms. Krati Singh; Ms. Pam Rajput presided over the Consultation for the day. UN WOMEN identifies the issue of Safe Cities as critical one considering the increasing crimes against women that happen in the public place domain. “Women and girls experience multiple and different forms of violence and harassment in public spaces; staring and leering to stalking and sexual assault are common phenomenon of their everyday life. Studies show that almost 60 percent women reported feeling unsafe in public spaces. The lack of safety has far reaching consequences for women and girls. Evidence indicates that harassment of girls in their neighborhoods, or while they are on their way to school, results in their dropping out of school. Experiences of violence in everyday settings lead to feelings of despair and fear. It is not only the actual experience of violence, but also the fear of it that impede women’s and girls’ equal ‘right to the city’. Women and girls often take ‘precautionary’ steps in their daily lives to protect themselves from violence; avoiding dark areas, keeping away from places, or dressing conservatively – these underline the reality that curtails their mobility.” In line with the aforementioned statement of purpose, CSR participated in the Consultation as Expert on Police Training for Safe Cities. On the topic of law enforcement, CSR with other representative organizations suggested that there is a requirement for data on crimes against women that can influence gender budgeting for public infrastructure to make cities safer. Other feedback points that were given to UN WOMEN included increased female police officials, boosting reaction time of the police to reported crimes, holistic crisis centres for victims, establishment of womens’ courts, implementation of laws for women and their monitoring mechanism and fine-tuning National Policy for Women. Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) in the 6th year of its association with Centre for Social Research (CSR) has partnered on projects related to Water Conservation and Gender Mainstreaming projects, Safe Cities Project and Gender Sensitization of multiple stakeholders. As part of the Safe Cities Project last year, we undertook trainings of the Police Officials in the states of Karnataka and Jammu Kashmir. This year (2017), CSR completed police trainings in the state of Manipur and Pondicherry.   Aericle Source....Gender Matters

#MeToo throws Light on Cities' Unsafe Spaces

With the #MeToo campaign on social media leading to strong calls for action against sexual harassment by sharing their own experiences, data collected through the "Safetipin" application shows 37% of unsafe locations reported by women in Delhi have poor visibility at night. Real-time data collected by Safetipin, which allows women to report unsafe spaces, points to a major problem with public spaces with poor visibility adding to the prospects of abuse and harassment. In contrast in Mumbai and Bengaluru, 40% and 35% of the city's locations reported by women have been positively rated in terms of visibility. However, in Bengaluru out of 1,881 bus stops audited, 25% scored poorly in terms of safety. The reports seem to tally with the tweets and posts on social media that show that besides incestuous abuse and harassment by colleagues, public spaces and transport are a major challenge as far as harassment goes. While the ministry of women and child development has no recent government study to bank on to assess the magnitude of the problem, it is planning to commission one on sexual harassment to establish concerns and look at measures to tackle it. For now what is available are some past studies and safety audit reports that reflect the magnitude of the problem as reflected by the #MeToo. Real-time data collected through the Safetipin application which allows women to report unsafe spaces how they feel about certain spaces shows that in the national capital, 37% of locations reported by women on the application does not offer any visibility at night.   Safetipin co-founder and women's rights activist Kalpana Viswanath told TOI that there are an estimated 80,000 users and their responses are audited and assessed from time to time to understand problems on the ground. The parameters involved include visibility, lighting, openness, the presence of security, walk path, availability of transport, the presence of people and women and how one feels in a space. Studies by voluntary organisation Jagori and UN Women on a sample of 5,010 respondents in 2010 reflected that 95% reported to have faced some form of sexual harassment in public spaces. The most common spaces were the street (69%), public transport (51%), waiting for public transport (41%) and markets (49%). Article Source....Times of India  

Pocket aids keep you safe in dark alleys, at late hours

Last May, activist and lawyer Kirthi Jayakumar, woke up in the morning to 31 missed calls and 16 text messages on her cell phone. "After a year-and-a-half of being trapped in an abusive marriage, my friend in London had escaped her home, and was trying to reach everyone she knew in India, all night," says Jayakumar, who runs civilian peace-building and gender sensitisation NGO, The Red Elephant Foundation. The incident immediately brought to the activist's notice the absence of effective tools to help a person in danger in ways that were quick, efficient and self-reliant. Thus was born the idea for an app that could systematically deliver various kinds of assistance to a survivor of gender-based violence. The app 'Saahas' was launched in June this year. Cashing in on the versatility of smart phone applications, app makers have for a while now, exploited the freedom to transmit GPS-identified locations to offer wide-ranging SOS and emergency contact services for women. But now, the time is to fine-tune these services, believe activists. "I wanted to create an app that could tell where to get help when in danger, and also enable bystander intervention," says Jayakumar. "We work on educating bystanders, so that they can identify signs in an individual to know when they are facing violence. For a survivor to speak up is an act of courage. But for a bystander, to intervene is both an act of courage and knowledge," she adds. Saahas has had 719 downloads so far, of which 62% have been in India. It has nine verticals, including police and ambulance helplines, consulates and embassies helplines, medical and legal help, and child and refugee-specific support. While new ways of addressing old challenges is the key, equally essential is to operate existing mechanisms with better efficiency, believes city-based women's rights NGO Aware, which has partnered with popular safety audit and tracking app, Safetipin, in a new campaign. Aware's collaboration with Safetipin is part of its campaign 'Safe Cities', which in turn is a spillover of its 'nomorenirbhaya' campaign. While Safetipin was launched in 2013, Aware found that the app's reach in Chennai was still limited to a few users."We had already planned to conduct safety audits in the city, but realised that the app would make it easier to record the data and generate a comprehensive report," says Sandhiyan Thilagavathy, founder, Aware. Safetipin allows the user to measure and record the safety standard of a location, by conducting a safety audit of the area, based on nine parameters that the app enlists — from lighting in the area and visibility, to walk paths, security and gender diversity. It also has a personal safety tracker feature. "Based on the reports generated from our audits, we will be able to follow up with the respective authorities to introduce changes; for instance, if an area doesn't have sufficient lighting, we will submit a petition to the municipal corporation, or in case of inadequate security, we will touch base with the concerned police station and ask officials to conduct regular patrolling during late hours. In order to get a clear picture of the situation, we conduct the audits only post 6pm," says Thilagavathy.   She acknowledges that mobilising the public to consistently use the app and conduct safety audits in their neighbourhoods, schools and colleges isn't easy. "We are working towards building the strength of our volunteers, who will reach out to their respective communities to educate people on the app," says Thilagavathy. Aware plans to connect with residential associations and the Shrimathi Devkunvar Nanalal Bhatt Vaishnav College for Women in Chromepet to educate residents and students about the app and mobilise volunteers. Article Source.... Times of India  

Rate the City Safe

Namma Chennai has always been considered safe when compared to other metropolitan cities of India, but is it for real? As part of the 70th Independence Day celebrations of India, the non-profit ogranisation AWARE is teaming up with the mobile and web app Safetipin, to rate how safe the city is. Sandhiyan, the founder of the NGO AWARE, which works for gender equality, child rights and women safety has organised a new initiative as a part of their #nomorenirbhaya campaign. To analyse the safety of each neighbourhood in the city, the NGO invites female and male volunteers to come out at nights as small groups and rate the area. The rating will be based on the nine parameters (eight objective elements and one subjective element) set by Safetipin.   To analyse the safety of each neighbourhood in the city, the NGO invites female and male volunteers to come out at nights as small groups and rate the area. The rating will be based on the nine parameters (eight objective elements and one subjective element) set by Safetipin.   “We share the data with the government officials and Public Works Department. Streets with improper lighting or less security is identified and given due attention. Since we involve the public in this and it is an evidence-based data, the government officials trust it too. We give a safety score to each city thereby helping the government to provide better facilities to the public,” Sonali reveals.   Ensuring that the women who participate in the audits are safe and protected, Janani, a volunteer at AWARE says, “We educate the participants with a 20-minute presentation before they head out. We also organise free self-defense sessions called Empower, to protect themselves in case of emergencies — and since they head out in small groups in their own/familiar areas, they are absolutely safe!”   Adding to the statement Sonali says, “Safetipin also has the option of the safest route and the GPS continuously keeps tracking the movement of those who are part of the audit. You can track your team members easily. No one is allowed to walk solo; therefore the safety of the women is guaranteed.” With the pilot audit beginning in Chromepet on August 15, the participants who are residents of the area or those who are very familiar with the area will walk to assess if the area is intimidating or not. It is an open invite to all Chennaiites. The main objective is to share the results obtained to the stakeholders and thereby make the city safer.   “We need to make this movement big so that by 2020, we become the safest and most gender-empowered city to set an example,” concludes Sandhiyan.Is the street you live in, safe at daylight and dark? How about that road you walk to get to your street? Or that kurukku sandhu that gets you to your home faster?There are bigger plans, to tackle intimidating spaces. Help rebuild the pride saying that namma Chennai is safe! Article Source......deccanchronicle  

These 7 Apps Are All That A Working Woman Needs In Her Life

Women are multi-taskers! We have some much going on in our minds that at times it is difficult to keep pace with all our thoughts. Thanks to the interesting world of apps, today many of our monotonous tasks and reminders can be effectively taken care of.Are you still struggling with all your day-to-day activities? Pass on the load to these super-efficient apps and spare yourself some much needed me-time. myPill Is it a task to stay on time with that birth control pill? Download myPill and ensure that you are protected all the time. Like a personal assistant, the app reminds you when to take the pill, tracks symptoms, suggests other forms of contraception, and also updates you on when to schedule a check-up with your gynecologist.     Safetipin In a line - this is your personal guardian cum bodyguard. Its GIS mapping service contains a location based tracking feature that enables you to track the location of your loved ones. Along with incorporating GPS tracking, it also stores emergency contact numbers and directions to safe locations. The app also suggests the SafetyScore of a place. So if you are venturing into a new location check the SafetyScore of that place vis-à-vis that of any other known place.    Hair Color Booth Love to get experimental with your hair color but always scared about how you will look post the experiment. Don’t worry the Hair Color Booth app lets you find out exactly how you will look with purple hair or with little blue streaks here and there. Choose from a mammoth range of color options to create that one unique combination.    HTW – Heel the World This is a one-of-a-kind fun platform for all the lovely women! A huge network of women are already using this platform to share and overcome hurdles that women typically face on a day-to-day basis like adjusting to new cities, jobs etc. due to career transitions. So, why not you? This forum also helps fellow women on issues related to relationships, career choices, finance related decisions etc. An exclusive app for the Indian women, this platform works in the form of communities where you can be a part of the travellers, foodies, mothers, artists, new in town, or pet lovers community to connect and mingle with like-minded women. No wonder it is said that only a woman understands what another woman wants! Period Tracker Are you unable to keep a track of your menstruation dates, thanks to your busy schedule? Outsource the task to the awesome Period Tracker and you will never be caught unawares on this front. It’s very simple! Just press a button on the onset of your cycle, Period Tracker will log the date and calculate an average from your last 3 months cycle to predict the start date of your next cycle. What's more? It also keeps a tab on symptoms such as bloating, acne, backaches, cramps, and not to forget, your mood swings.   Pose A one-stop destination to celebrate everything fashionable! Join this creative gang to learn about the latest in the fashion world and get access to the latest fashion inspirations that are one-of-a-kind. You can do a lot with this app - follow top bloggers and brands, keep a tab of what your favorite celebrities are wearing, catch on that vintage dress that you have been eyeing for long, straight from the stylish wardrobes of designers spread across the length and breadth of our country. You can also find like-minded stylists, share, and learn many fashion tips as you browse along.   Beautylish Get access to the latest beauty looks and make-up trends, pick up essential make-up and styling tips, and last but not the least, shop for some really amazing beauty products – all this on one amazing app.      Which of these apps did you find most useful? Tell us through the comments section below.  Article Source.....Polka Cafe

7 Best Women Safety Apps - Safetipin

Women safety has become the utmost priority of the Indian government considering the increasing cases of crime against women. There are various safety apps present on the play store designed for the protection and security of women. Therefore on this International Women’s day, we combined a list of best 7 safety apps for women, which will ensure that they are not alone anywhere they go. The basics of most apps are similar — a user-decided list of emergency contacts to alert, and transmission of GPS-determined location — but the newer ones are easier to use, almost intuitive.   Safetipin Safetipin is one of the good options when it comes to safety apps for women. The app is designed keeping in mind the concept of personal safety. It incorporates all the essential features such as GPS tracking, emergency contact numbers, directions to safe locations etc. The app also pins the safe areas along with their safety scores to go at the time of any problem. It also enables the users to pin unsafe areas and help others.  Safetipin is available in Hindi, Bahasa, and Spanish, besides English.   Raksha The Raksha app is designed to ensure that women stay safe always. The app comes equipped with a button, which will send alerts to your loved ones with your location in a situation of distress. You can select the contacts, which will be able to see your location. Moreover, if the app is switched off and is not working then also you will be able to send alerts by simply pressing the volume key for three seconds. The app also has SOS functionality and can also send SMS if stuck in a non-internet area.   Himmat The Himaat app is a free safety app recommend for women by the Delhi Police. In order to use the app, the user has to register at the Delhi Police website. Once the registration is complete the user will receive an OTP, which has to be entered at the time of completing the app configuration. In a problematic situation if the user raises the SOS alert from the app, the location information, and audio video will be directly transmitted to the Delhi Police control room following which the police will reach the location.   Women safety The next on our list is the Women Safety app that will inform and update your dear ones if you are stuck in an unsafe place. It will send all the details related to your location with just a tap of a button. The app will send an SMS to a preconfigured number along with your location and a link of Google Maps. The app will also click two pictures with the front and rear camera, which are directly uploaded to the server. The Women safety app comprises of three coloured buttons based on the seriousness of a situation. So, you can tap the one you want depending on your situation.   Smart24x7 The Smart24x7 app is supported by the various states' police just to ensure the safety of women and senior citizens. The app sends panic alerts to emergency contacts in a problematic situation. It also records voices and also takes photographs during the panic situation and transfers these to the police as well. It also has call center support, which will track down the primary movements of the user. Users just need to press the panic button and select the type of service required and then finally click on submit.   Shake 2 Safety The Shake2Safety app is the easiest to use. The user just needs to shake their smartphone or just press the power button four times to send an SOS text or call to the registered numbers. It works with the locked screen on and even without an internet connection. Moreover, the users will also have the ability to activate or deactivate the option of shaking the device to send an alert. The app can also be used in case of an accident, harassment, robbery or any natural calamities.   bSafe app   The bSafe app ensures the safety and security of women. It allows contacts follow you through a live GPS trail and also set a timed alarm which goes off if you haven’t ‘checked in’. Moreover, it will also make your phone ring with a fake call and also notifies the emergency contacts with the location, video and even siren.   Article Source........ economic times      

A Gender Smart Investment for Women and Girls

While women and girls are increasingly able to realize their rights and contribute to society, they continue to face enormous challenges and disadvantages across Asia. Today data shows that no country can get ahead if it leaves women and girls behind. In the words of former World Bank President Robert Zoellick: “Gender equality is smart economics.” Beyond smart economics, progress on the new Sustainable Development Goals – at the heart of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held last month – will not be possible without gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the fourth annual Young Lotus Circle Soirée at the Sun Klein Gallery in New York City, hosted by The Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle, a community of individuals, foundations, and corporations who raise private capital to rapidly respond to threats and challenges facing women in Asia. The event highlighted individual stories of women and girls whose lives were changed by The Asia Foundation’s work. Young Lotus Circle co-founder and advisor Lin Nie Jamison spoke about the importance of providing opportunities for women and girls in Asia to be able to make the critical decisions that affect their lives, and examples of impact she has seen over many years. “The Women’s Empowerment Program connects our resources with women in Asia to improve their lives. Just by being here this evening you have set in motion virtuous cycles,” she told the packed room. For example, in India, where domestic violence has become a source of national outrage, Lotus Circle funds were used to support SafetiPin, a mobile app which allows users to conduct “safety audits” in their cities and shine a virtual spotlight on unsafe areas for women. In Bangladesh, Lotus Circle funds are supporting women entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses by developing e-commerce websites that increase their access to information, innovative technologies, and external markets. And in Vietnam, Lotus Circle funding has allowed more than 200 girls in the Mekong Delta region to overcome substantial barriers to continue their education.   The Asia Foundation’s trustee emerita and long-time Lotus Circle advisor Gina Lin Chu also spoke at the Soirée. It is through Gina’s vision and commitment that The Asia Foundation’s gender smart initiative, which invests in opportunities for staff to obtain specialized skills in gender integration and women’s empowerment, is made possible. Through this initiative, our Women’s Empowerment team facilitates collaborative gender trainings to build our staff capacity to promote gender equality across all Asia Foundation programs. To date we have conducted trainings in six countries, most recently in Bangladesh in March. The trainings have an impact in three ways. First, it builds a gender lens among staff and a new understanding of how gender norms affect us all in many aspects of our lives. By identifying a few staff in each field office with expertise in gender to be part of a “gender committee,” to co-facilitate the training together, we focus on transferring knowing and skills and building local capacity. Second, it impacts our office environment, as the training facilitates discussions about our institutional commitment to gender equality and our organizational gender policy, which affects how we work together. Third, by using a gender analysis framework to critically analyze our programs and develop gender action plans, we ensure our programs identify the specific needs of women, men, boys, and girls and promote gender equality holistically. That evening, the enormous support and commitment to investing in women and girls across Asia were palpable. The passion of Lin Nie Jamison, Gina Lin Chu, and members of the Young Lotus Circle in the public, private, and non-profit sectors is deeply inspiring and makes the work we do at The Asia Foundation possible. Looking ahead, on May 11 The Asia Foundation will host its sixth annual Lotus Leadership Awards Gala and will honor First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani, named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people for her steadfast commitment to advancing women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan. Carnegie Corporation will be also be honored for its partnership with The Asia Foundation to improve access to university and advanced level education for Afghan women. Vartan Gregorian will accept the Lotus Leadership Award for Carnegie. Watch this space for a one-on-one interview with Gregorian in the weeks ahead. Article Source..........Asia Foundation

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 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 work every 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 auto rickshaws, 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.   ‘I was robbed while on a morning walk in Sec 15’ Shalini Baweja, a 38-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Sector 15 part -1, goes formorning walk in the area every day around7am.  According to her, on January 19, while she was walking, two men on motorbike approached her and asked for the way to a golf course in the area. “While I was talking to them, one of them got down from the bike and snatched my gold chain,” said Baweja. “They then threatened me that if I shout for help, they will shoot me. One of them had a gun. The pillion rider then asked the driver to flee the spot,” she said. Baweja said there was no one on the stretch in the morning so she did not raise the alarm. She said since the incident, she has changed her morning walk route as well as the timings. In another case, An 80-year-old resident of Sector 15 part 2, Namisha Patel said two men cheated her and fled with her diamond ring worth Rs 2 lakh in October. She said the incident took place at a garden close to her house in the posh Sector 15 (part 1). According to the police, Patel had gone to the garden for morning walk when a man approached her, acting as an acquaintance. “He resembled a neighbour and so I thought it was him. He said he had started a new transport business and touched my feet for blessings saying it was his birthday that day,” Patel said. “Then suddenly he pulled out my ring and fled. His accomplice was waiting for him on a scooter. I returned home immediately and informed my family. The police was informed and a constable from the Civil Lines police station came and took down my complaint,” she said. The police said they are investigating the case. ‘My parents do not allow me to hire auto at night’ Priya Kumar, a 21-year-old resident of the city, uses the metro to go to work in Delhi every day. She generally finishes her work around 9 pm and takes the metro to return home. Kumar said she reaches Gurgaon around 10:30 pm and her parents make sure that someone goes to pick her up from the Sikanderpur Metro station as the area around it is not safe. “My parents do not allow me to hire an autorickshaw to reach home from the station,” said Kumar. “There have been many incidents when I was followed by drunken men who passed lewd comments at me. I cannot shout back or raise my voice as there is no police presence in the area at night,” she said. Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road (MG Road), on which the station is located, is infamous for incidents of crime against women. The area around the Metro station is not properly lit and sees a comparatively lower footfall after 8 at night. Located on the mall mile of the city, the station is close to shopping complexes which have a number of clubs and bars. Many incidents involving drunken men have been reported from the area. The police have taken several initiatives to check such incidents, including the ‘Romeo Free Gurgaon’ campaign. Though policemen are deployed on MG Road, they cannot cover the entire stretch. Personnel are generally deployed towards the MG Road metro station as it sees a higher footfall and is close to the malls. “There are several police jeeps in the area but they are mostly deployed towards the MG Road station. The area around Sikanderpur Metro station is deserted after 10 pm. I feel very scared in the area,” Kumar said. Article Source.... Hindustan Times                

Smartphone Apps That Can Add to Your Sense of Security

Women safety remains a major concern in India, with gender crimes increasing by the day. Instances of eve-teasing, stalking and even rape are on the rise in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Calcutta. And this has created a sense of urgency among people. The software industry has responded to the crisis by putting out a slew of women safety apps, which can be easily installed in smartphones and can send quick distress signals to law enforcement agencies should the need arise. Here’s a look at some top performers in this area.   My SafetiPin is a personal safety app which guides users around cities based on a safety score of its areas. The app has a robust personal safety tracker feature to act as your personal guardian. The SafetiPin GPS navigation app lets you track a person who has turned his/her “Track Me” button on. You will receive an alert and can choose to invite friends or family to track you. It uses your phone’s GPS locator to record information about your location and uses GPS tracking to connect you with friends and family whenever you feel unsafe. The user’s movement can be traced in real time on a map – which means that a crisis call can be responded to without any time lost. Users can also find the safest route around a city using this app. You can view alternate routes from one place to another, and select one that’s deemed the safest as per the app. The safety ratings are based on research and are statistically validated. The app also allows users to pin unsafe areas in order to help others.   Raksha: Women Safety Alert -The Raksha app is designed to ensure that women stay safe in all situations outdoors. This app comes equipped with a button, which, once pressed, sends alerts to your friends and family along with your location. Users can of course nominate and authorize the person, or a group of people, receiving the distress call. You can also send location alert to others without switching on the Raksha app — simply by pressing the volume button on your phone. In most safety apps, users are only allowed to nominate and send distress messages to any five people. But in this one, multiple contacts can be added to your personal list. There’s a also a quick dial option to reach the local police. The best part is that even if the app is switched off and is not working, you’d still be able to send alerts by simply pressing the volume key of your phone for three seconds. The app also has SOS functionality and can send SMSes in case the user doesn’t have internet access.    Himmat -  This is a free app recommend for women by the Delhi Police. In order to use this app, the user has to register on the official Delhi Police website. Once the registration is finally complete, the user will receive a one-time password or an OTP, which is required to configure the app on your smartphone. In case of an emergency, users who have this app installed on their phone can send an alert simply by shaking the phone, or alternatively by pressing its power button/soft button. As soon as the button is pressed, the app transmits an SOS alert, including the data about the phone’s present location, to the Delhi Police control room. An SMS alert will also be sent through the app to five of the users nominated friends or relatives. On top of that, an automatic message will be posted through the app on the user’s Facebook and Twitter timelines. The app also has “Safety Tips” module, offering a first-aid guide.   Nirbhaya: Be Fearless - This one is an android-based application which can send distress calls or emergency messages to a specified contact or group. The app sends an alarm by way of an SMS, with a location tag of the user, to the configured group through the GPS system. The user can also shake her device to send an emergency message even if the phone is locked — the message is delivered directly to the group of contacts as assigned to the SOS key. The users can also mark their current location or any other on the map as safe or unsafe — with the option of writing more elaborate comments on specific areas. Correct location, information and communication with and from the app are dependent upon the basic hardware/software requirements, which include an active data/SMS plans, minimum talk time and active GPS functionality.   VithU  -  VithU App is a Channel V initiative to curb problems related to women safety in Indian cities. VithU is an emergency app that, at the click of the power button of your smartphone twice, begins sending out alert messages every two minutes to your contacts that you feed into the app as designated receivers or guardians. The default message says: “I am in danger. I need help. Please follow my location.” The app lets a potential victim skip through the number-punching, and lets her push the phone’s power button twice to instantly send an SOS alert to contacts. The receiver gets a link to your updated location every two minutes. The app also offers updates on reported crimes in Indian cities, and has a user-friendly “Tips Feed” section for safety tips in emergency situations. Article Source -