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Safetipin: A new Mobile App for Women's Safety

New DELHI: In the wake of concerns being raised on security of women in cities, a researcher on women issues and a technology entrepreneur have joined hands to launch a mobile application, Safetipin, which provides safety-related information collected by users.Safetipin is a map-based mobile phone app, that crowdsources and maps information about safety in neighbourhood and cities.The app, which is available to Android and iPhone users, is free to use and is available on the App Store and Google Play.The app was launched today in the national capital, by its co-founders Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu.Speaking at the launch Basu said: "The app gives people a way to engage with their neighbourhood and communities on important issues."..Article Source....TOI

Map Places And Secure Your City With a ‘Safetipin’

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

How Safetipin is Making Cities Safer

There are certain neighbourhoods that you just can’t walk around in at night. It’s hard to explain, but the only thing you know is that being there leaves you with a creeping, niggling feeling. What makes people feel safe when they’re in a neighbourhood? The two founders of Safetipin, Ashish Basu and Kalpana Vishwanath, have narrowed safety down to nine factors: lighting, openness, visibility, people density, security, walk path, transportation in the area, and feeling. Safetipin crowdsources information on these nine factors in order to paint an accurate and transparent picture of cities.The first eight work as independent variables, or factors that are measured on their own in the physical world. The last, ‘feeling’, counts as a dependent variable and is observed in conjunction with the first eight. “To explain a tangible like ‘feeling’, you need backup data,” explains Ashish. “We use the preceding data to understand changes in it.” How Safetipin is making cities safer Once a certain number of these audits are conducted in an area, they are aggregated to create a ‘safety score’. Safety scores range from one to ten and are represented in that order by green, amber, or red pins. Audits can be shared on social networks and users can create ‘walls’ about certain areas that will then allow them to post info online like broken traffic lights and bad roads. These are all accessible on Safetipin’s app, which also provides access to information about amenities like 24-hour pharmacies and ATMs. Among other things, the app also acts as a GPS tracker. “It’s over-configured,” Ashish jokes. Article Source..... business-standard.com

Safetipin Makes The World Less Scary at Night

There are certain neighborhoods that you just can’t walk around in at night. It’s hard to explain, but the only thing you know is that being there leaves you with a creeping, niggling feeling. How do you report this feeling without sounding crazy? What makes people feel safe when they’re in a neighborhood? Wide streets? Bright lights? A certain number of cars? The two founders of Safetipin, Ashish Basu and Kalpana Vishwanath, have narrowed safety down to nine factors: lighting, openness, visibility, people density, security, walk path, transportation in the area, and feeling. Safetipin crowdsources information on these nine factors in order to paint an accurate and transparent picture of cities. The first eight work as independent variables, or factors that are measured on their own in the physical world. The last, “feeling”, counts as a dependent variable and is observed in conjunction with the first eight. “To explain a tangible like “feeling”, you need backup data,” explains Ashish. “We use the preceding data to understand changes in it.”Once a certain number of these audits are conducted in an area, they are aggregated to create a “safety score”. Safety scores range from one to ten and are represented in that order by green, amber, or red pins. Audits can be shared on social networks and users can create “walls” about certain areas that will then allow them to post info online like broken traffic lights and bad roads. These are all accessible on Safetipin’s app, which also provides access to information about amenities like 24-hour pharmacies and ATMs. Among other things, the app also acts as a GPS tracker. “It’s over-configured,” Ashish jokes. The app is available in English, Hindi, Bahasa, Spanish, and Mandarin and has had over 40,000 contributions. It eventually hopes to cover 100 cities across South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America and currently works in one city in each of these areas: Jakarta, Bogota, Nairobi, and Delhi.The difficult thing about crowdsourcing information is maintaining quantity and quality. In India, Safetipin has been launched in what is known as the country’s “rape capital”, Delhi. While that’s a horrible and degrading way to describe a city – as if rapes can be quantified and addressed in the same way that a certain number of startups can define a “startup capital” or a proliferation of food stalls can define a “street food capital” – the number of reported rapes in Delhi are more than anywhere else in the country. Reported cases doubled from 706 to 1,638 between 2012 and 2013. Last year saw 2,166 reported rape cases. However, it is important to remember that this does not necessarily mean that the number of rapes are increasing. In fact, it might actually be a positive thing – perhaps, more people are reporting rape cases than ever before. “More data is better data,” Ashish explains. “That was something important that we had to learn. You can’t have a sample size of two people telling you that an area is unsafe. You’re looking for more information.” Because it can be unattractive for a business to exist in an unsafe area, some people go so far as to lie on these services. In order to address this problem, Ashish explains that the amount of data that the app has is important. “If you look at it in pure mathematical terms, those who fabricate numbers will be outliers.” Of course, it’s not always easy to get these numbers. Particularly in apps that rely on social interaction like Safetipin, it can be difficult to motivate users to contribute. “The interesting trend was that many people would download the app but would then stop at one or two audits,” reminisces Ashish. “We tried everything from target groups to send out a rubric based set of questions. Eventually we found a bunch of volunteers who helped us crowdsource information.” With more contribution and change, however, the app has picked up. “That’s how behavior works on social networks,” says Ashish. “Once the ball gets rolling, it takes a lot to stop it.” Article Source....techinasia

Safetipin app Launched, Lets Users Share Safety Details of City Locations

A new mobile application that lets users rate, share information on and discuss the security and safety of their neighbourhood, place of work and markets was launched in Delhi Wednesday. "Safetipin" is a map-based free application that lets users create circles of interests around their neighbourhood or office or anywhere else in the city. Any post through the app in any of these circles will show up on a wall tagged for that circle. "The particular circle can then be audited by the user who can tell others whether a stretch of road or a spot inside that circle has adequate street lighting or public transport or not so that others may avoid that route," said co-founder of the app, Ashish Basu. "The user can upload pictures and express how he/she is feeling while visiting any part of the city and that information would be shared with the respective circle. People can then comment on the post with their own inputs," he added. In addition, useful information like the closest pharmacy or police station can also be uploaded by the users. According to Basu, Safetipin provides a map to its users which shows areas of the city that are unsafe (in red), moderately safe (orange) and safe (green). Users can also record instances of harassment and security hazards, including broken street lights, open sewers etc. "The premise behind Safetipin is that citizen and community involvement in safety will create safer neighbourhoods and cities through reducing tolerance to violence against women," said co-founder Kalpana Viswanath. The application is available to Android and iPhone users. Article Source........Gadgets.ndtv.com

Mapping the City for Safety with Safetipin

New Delhi: Have you ever felt scared to go to a place you’ve never been before and wanted to tell the world how you felt once you were safely back home? There’s an app for that and it’s available on iOS and Android. Safetipin is a location-based mobile app which collects safety-related information from ordinary users and trained auditors and posts it for the benefit of others. The app banks on engaging citizens and their contributions to make cities safer. You can assign a score to the places you have visited on various parameters. The information gathered by the app can be used for advocacy, improving safety conditions and informing other users. Launched in November 2013, Safetipin is available on both Google Play and Apple’s App Store, and has clocked 18,000 downloads across the globe. “If you can measure safety, you can change behaviour. My belief is that if we can make a measure stick, it will help in changing behaviour. We work with the safety perception—the correlation between how you feel and what could be violations,” said Ashish Basu, founder, Active Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns and runs Safetipin. At the app’s core is an audit with nine parameters on safety perception: public transport, light, people, openness, visibility, gender diversity, walk path, security and feeling. “These parameters have been set in accordance with international standards. We have used the ones most relevant for India. Surveillance was left out, since not much is happening in India on that front,” said Kalpana Viswanath, co-founder. Each option is clear enough for the user to add precise information. For example, in the “people” option, you can select deserted, few people (less than 10), some crowd (more than 10 people) and crowded (many people within touching distance). Similarly, for the “feeling” option, there is frightening, uncomfortable, acceptable and comfortable. The user can upload a picture of the place and add comments with location. “Audits done after dark are the real measurement of safety. So, commissioned audits are done after dark till 10 pm,” said Basu. Audits by individual users range in single digits. To supplement this figure, the company commissions 1,000-2,000 audits by volunteers every month. Every audit shows up as a pin on the map and is denoted by three different colours depending on the input: Red is for unsafe, amber for less safe and green for safe. You can also create options of creating your own circles of safety for the areas you frequent. The app aims to generate scores for locations, based on which you can decide on the relative safety of a particular spot. A key feature of the app is “feeling”. A user who does not want to go through all the nine parameters can simply assign a “feeling” score. “Feelings are easier and faster to do. We get little under 2,000 entries for feelings in a month,” said Basu. There are options to record hazards and harassment. The hazard option lets you record infrastructure problems like bad roads, poor lighting, exposed wiring, sewage waste, poor public toilets, obstruction or encroachment and collapsing structures. Options like catcalls, comments, sexual invites and stalking fall under the harassment category. There are a total of nine such choices. The app also helps you find the nearest police station, hospital, transport and shops. Addresses, directions and emergency numbers are available under the directory feature. The Track Me feature gives the option to be tracked by family or friends when the app is allowed to access location. Similarly, in an emergency, the app can send an SOS text message with location to your emergency contact list. “We must clarify that we are not a purely emergency app. We are a prevention app,” said Basu. The safety information and analytics are provided to stakeholders such as the police and civic authorities. “Authorities can pick up one particular parameter to start work. We can provide data, information, best practices and analysis,” said Basu. The south-west district of Delhi Police has initiated “Project Salamat” with Safetipin to map areas under its jurisdiction and use data to engage with residents. Policing patterns in this area have already been changed to optimize resources. The company has tied up with non-governmental organizations such as Action India, Jagori and Literacy India to set up Safetipin choupals where safety data is collected from people in the locality and then put up for discussion to bring about changes. Currently, Safetipin is available in Delhi NCR, Gurgaon, Guwahati, Bangalore, Bogota (Colombia) and Jakarta (Indonesia). The founders plan to take it to Chennai, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune and Kolkata in the next two to three months. “Our focus will remain on Latin America, south-east Asia, south Asia and Africa. It is a location-based app and can be used anywhere in the world,” said Viswanath. The company is working on a lighter version of the app, a Windows app and a version with Hindi support. It is now available in English and Spanish. The new features that would be added in the near future include safety scores and safety routes. The safety score currently available on the app comes from both commissioned auditors and individual users. In future, this data will come only from commissioned sources to establish authenticity. The company’s revenue plan includes sharing safety scores with portals in areas of tourism, recreation and real estate. The company is running a pilot with a real estate portal to use the safety score for the properties and areas listed on the website. Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards. Article Source....Livemint

App Helps Keep Women Safe in Cities Worldwide

NEW DELHI — For women travelling on their own who are unsure of areas to avoid at night, or parents who want to track their daughters to ensure they return from school safely, a map-based mobile safety app may be the answer. Safetipin, designed by the charity Jagori, uses crowdsourcing to rate the safety of areas in News Delhi based on factors such as lighting, population density, transport and gender diversity. It also acts as a personal GPS tracker, allowing users to be tracked and loved ones to be traced. The app is one of the thousands of projects being rolled out in cities across the world as part of a United Nations (UN) initiative to stem cases of rape, sexual harassment and molestation in urban areas. From New Delhi to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Quito in Ecuador, a small but growing number of municipalities, charities, companies and community groups are joining the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative. “Unsafe public spaces limit women’s and girl’s life choices. This daily reality limits their freedom to participate in education, work and recreation, and in political life,” said Ms Laxmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women. “In many cities, adolescent girls are afraid to walk on their own on the streets in their neighbourhoods when they go to school because they experience various forms of sexual harassment, such as cat-calling, stalking, whistling and touching.” One in three women globally have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, said UN Women. While many countries have in recent years strengthened laws and improved infrastructure to curb sex crimes, efforts have lacked a coordinated, focused approach and are rarely assessed for their effectiveness, say experts. A burgeoning metropolis of 25 million, New Delhi and its environs have gained notoriety for sexual violence after a young woman was gang-raped on an unlicensed bus in December 2012. The attack and the victim’s death from her injuries sparked widespread protests and an increasing awareness of the problem. As a result, more women are reporting abuses, say charities and the police. There were 2,166 reported rapes last year in the city, a rise of 32 per cent from 1,636 in 2013, police data showed. “There are areas where I feel safe, like around busy markets where there are lots of restaurants, but there are many areas where it’s really scary,” said Ms Reshmi, 22, a student in South Delhi...Article Source.

From Delhi to Port Moresby, the Safetipin app Aims at Making Women Feel Safer

Going out for dinner and not sure which area would be safer at night for a woman travelling on her own? Want to track your daughter to ensure she gets back from college safely? A map-based mobile safety app may be your answer. Safetipin, designed by the charity Jagori uses crowd sourcing to rate the safety of areas in Delhi based on factors including lighting, population density, transport and gender diversity. It also acts as a personal GPS tracker, allowing users to be tracked or to trace a loved one. Safetipin is one of thousands of projects being rolled out in cities across the world as part of a United Nations initiative to stem cases of rape, sexual harassment and molestation in urban areas. From New Delhi in India to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Quito in Ecuador, a small but growing number of municipalities, charities, companies and community groups are joining U.N. Women’s “Safe Cities Global Initiative”. “Unsafe public spaces limit women’s and girl’s life choices. This daily reality limits their freedom to participate in education, work, recreation, and in political life,” said Laxmi Puri, deputy executive director of U.N. Women. “In many cities, adolescent girls are afraid to walk on their own when they go to school on the streets in their own neighbourhoods because they experience various forms of sexual harassment, such as cat-calling, stalking, whistling, touching.” One in three women globally have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, according to U.N. Women. While many countries have in recent years strengthened laws and improved infrastructure to curb sex crimes, efforts have lacked a coordinated, focused approach – and are rarely assessed for their effectiveness, experts say. RAPE CITY TO SAFE CITY? A burgeoning metropolis of 25 million, Delhi and its environs gained notoriety for sexual violence after a young woman was gang-rapped on an unlicensed bus in December 2012. The attack, and the victim’s death from her injuries sparked widespread protests and increasing awareness of the problem. As a result more women are reporting abuses, say charities and the police. There were 2,166 reported rapes in 2014 in the city against 1,636 in 2013 – a rise of 32 percent – according to police data. “There are areas where I feel safe like around busy markets where there are lots of restaurants, but there are many areas where it’s really scary,” said Reshmi, 22, a student, outside Green Park metro station in South Delhi. New Delhi is now one of 25 cities including Port Moresby, Quito, Kigali and Cairo to have joined the safe cities project. Some of the initiatives so far include boosting street lighting, installing toilets, setting up helplines and strengthening laws on sexual harassment. Each city first does a “scoping” survey on perceptions and attitudes towards sexual violence which is used to develop city-specific programmes that are evaluated every five years. In Delhi, for example, the first study done in 2012 found that 90 percent of women had experienced sexual violence in public spaces and only 5 percent felt safe in the city. Using these findings, authorities, charities and others can work out specific initiatives to address women’s safety. As well as the introduction of mobile apps like Safetipin, programmes that encourage men and boys to think about sexist behaviour are also being carried out. At the same time, the authorities are installing CCTV cameras in buses and police stations. They have also ordered taxi firms to have GPS systems in their cabs, and set up fast-track courts for sexual violence, amongst other measures. UPGRADED MARKETS, SAFETY AUDITS Other cities are also taking up the challenge. For example, in Cairo, the ministry of urban planning has adopted women’s safety audits to guide their development plans. In Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, authorities have upgraded a market where more than 80 percent of the vendors are women. They have build new infrastructure, including bathrooms and showers, renovated market stalls, provided access to potable water and established a vendors association. Municipal officials however admit that ending sexual violence is not just about creating infrastructure, but also about sustained public campaigns that dispel sexism and challenge gender stereotypes. “In the city of Kigali, every new paved road is accompanied by public lighting. This has contributed to a safer environment in which women can work in the evening and night hours,” said Hope Tumukunde, vice mayor of Rwanda’s capital, at conference on safe cities in Delhi last week. “But we are also using artists to deliver strong messages against sexual harassment through a popular singing competition. Such strong messages can go a long way towards changing sexist attitudes and it will ensure more prevention than retribution.” Article Source.......Tech.firstpost.com

Uber Expands SafetiPin Partnership to 4 More Indian Cities

Taxi hailing platform Uber is expanding its partnership with SafetiPin, a map-based mobile safety app, to reach up to 50 cities globally, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Noida. Earlier this year, Uber had partnered SafetiPin to run a pilot to generate safety scores for various locations in Delhi. The pilot was then extended to other global markets, including Bogota, Colombia and Nairobi, Kenya. "Uber is unveiling a global partnership with SafetiPin that will expand its reach to up to 50 cities, including cities in Africa, South America and Asia," Uber said in a statement. This new partnership begins September 21, with Bengaluru, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Noida, it added. Uber said the pilots in Delhi and the other two cities were still ongoing but did not share any details. Last year, the cab-booking platform had drawn flak following public outrage after one of its drivers allegedly raped a 26-year-old executive in Delhi-NCR. The company has, since then, undertaken a number of initiatives, including partnership with background-screening firm First Advantage and introduction of a panic button. Under its partnership with SafetiPin, Uber connects its network of driver-partners who can choose to assist SafetiPin in mapping the safety parameters of a city while driving. Driver-partners are equipped with an outward-facing mobile device that records photos and GPS information for SafetiPin. Article Source......gadgets.ndtv.com  

This app is like the Pinterest of personal safety apps

In a article published by The Huffington Post , Safetipin has been mentioned as one of the most relevant Safety Apps . This was in reference to a article "7 Apps And Devices That Help Indian Women Be Safer". Further author  elaborated that "there are literally dozens of apps out there released after the Nirybhaya rape incident in 2012, but many of them haven’t seen an update for over a year. To keep this roundup relevant, we’ve narrowed it down to apps that have been updated in the last 3 months" The author narrowed down 6 other apps along with Safetipin among the most relevant Safety apps that helps Indian Women be Safer. For Safetipin here is what author has to say "This app is like the Pinterest of personal safety apps - apart from GPS tracking and alarm features, the user community updates and informs you on how safe an area is. The directory option helps you find emergency location numbers."