Urbanization is one of the key processes of social change taking place today. In 2003, the world became more than 50% urban and this is growing each year. The growth of cities has provided opportunities for education, employment, and habitation for millions of people. At the same time, growing urbanization has also exacerbated existing problems as well as thrown up new problems. These include congestion, poverty, pollution and crime among others.
Urban spaces provide new opportunities for people to build their homes and lives while reinforcing existing inequalities and often creating new ones. Safety of citizens and freedom from crime and violence in cities has become a central concern with growing urbanization. Women and others such as elderly, migrants and people in low-income neighborhoods are particularly vulnerable and face safety as a major concern.
City governments and other stakeholders such as the police are responsible for providing infrastructure and services to make cities safer for everyone. Creating safe and inclusive public spaces has been recognized as important both through SDG11 as well as the New Urban Agenda. Well designed and well maintained public spaces are essential to the well-being of city inhabitants and promote sustainability as well as safety. This project ‘Using Data to build Safer Cities’ supported under the Cities Alliance Catalytic Fund has been carried out to provide reliable data to city governments to address this problem as well as suggest solutions to create safer and inclusive public spaces.
The project has been implemented in three cities across continents - Delhi (India), Bogota (Colombia) and Nairobi (Kenya). It has been carried out in partnership with Nairobi City County, District Secretary of Women, Bogota, and Government of National Capital Territory (NCT), Delhi The role of local government is crucial in addressing the safety concerns through urban management and governance. In each city, data was collected using the Safetipin apps and technology platform and shared with local stakeholders. The data has been collected with the aim of identifying key problem and areas for improvement.
This report shares the findings from the data collection in all three cities as well how the data has been used by the cities to create safer and more inclusive public spaces and streets. Some of the changes recommended include designing streets to reduce opportunities for crime, improved street lighting, reorganizing markets and bus terminals, addressing last mile connectivity and encouraging community participation in designing and managing streets and public spaces.
Safetipin is a technology platform which works to make communities and cities safer by providing safety-related information collected by users and by trained auditors. At the core of the app is the Safety Audit. A Safety Audit is a participatory tool for collecting and assessing information about perceptions of urban safety in public spaces.
The audit is based on nine parameters – Lighting, Openness, Visibility, Crowd, Security, Walkpath, Availability of Public Transport, Gender Diversity and Feeling. Each parameter is rated 0/1/2/3 with 0 being Poor rating and 3 being Good. All parameters except Feeling are completely objective and are rated on the basis of a well-defined rubric.
The app is available in the app stores for free and was used by trained volunteers in collaboration with NGO partners and City Government to conduct audits. The audits were conducted post-sunset till 10 pm at night.
Data was also collected using the Safetipin Nite app. This app (not available in app stores) collects photographs which are geotagged and have time stamps. Phones with this app installed were mounted on the windshield of cars. As the car moves, photographs are continuously taken of the footpath side of the road. In addition to taxis, smartphones were mounted on bicycles to capture the photographs of the cycle track in Bogota. The photographs were analyzed by a team of coders and reviewed on a daily basis to produce maps of the city.
Additional data indicating the issue (absence of streetlights, non-functioning streetlights, broken or no pavement, type of public transport) was also recorded for the parameters of Lighting, Walkpath, Visibility and Public Transport.
Delhi, or the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and Union Territory of India. It is also one of the five mega cities of India i.e. it has a population of more than 10 million. Having an average density of 225pph the city spans over 1483 square kilometers. As per Census of India 2011, it currently has a population of 16,349,831 which makes it the most populous urban agglomeration of India and the third largest urban area in the world. The United Nations World Cities Report 2016 says that an additional 9.6million people are expected to move to Delhi by 2030.
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