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Decoding Public Spaces using Safetipin Site App

Decoding Public Spaces using Safetipin Site App

Over the last six years, Safetipin has been using its apps to conduct safety audits in public places and citywide mapping around the world. The collected data in the form of audit pins and images are coded to create spatial data layers on physical infrastructure and social environment in a city. The aim is to create a database that complements the official statistics collected by urban local bodies and inspire action to address the issue of making cities safer, especially for women. As Safetipin data is evidence-backed and quantitative in nature (audit parameters are rated on a well-defined rubric), this could be used to measure, compare, or validate the official findings. With data in over 40 cities in India and outside, Safetipin data has been used by city authorities in Delhi, Bengaluru, Panchkula as well as in Bogota, Port Moresby and Hanoi. The data has been used to improve lighting, cycling and public transport network at the city level.

As we moved to local area planning and interventions, there was a need to dig deeper and understand safety and mobility related problems specific to a public space, street, or neighbourhood. This led to development of ‘Safetipin Site’ as in-depth spatial data gathering tool. It is a web application designed to collect information on selected public places or public services through a detailed questionnaire, pictures, and spatial data. For example, condition of public toilets, bus terminals, safety audits inside the buses, last mile connectivity around metro/train station or bus stop etc. This type of data gathering process helps in making effective decisions to address citizens’ concerns and experiences in using the public place.

The application was first used in Durban, South Africa in collaboration with Soul City Institute supported the Womanity Foundation. The application was used to understand women safety issues in public transport. Taxis are the primary mode of transport within the city followed by buses and trains. Major taxi ranks (designated place where taxis are parked and hired) within two areas were selected to collect information on existing lighting and walking infrastructure as well as availability of facilities for women commuters and staff, if any. Additional information on sexual harassment and crimes against women is also being captured. In Delhi, India the app is being used to assess last mile connectivity around metro stations that includes detailed evaluation of metro station along with the nearest bus stop, para-transit stand, cycle stand and parking.

To collect data at a specific public place using Safetipin Site, the first step is to build a set of questions to inspect or assess the place on a range of parameters. This can include objective as well as open ended questions that could help us in problem identification. The application’s questionnaire can be customized based on type of public place, geography, time etc.  Once the questionnaire is finalised, it is uploaded and hosted on Safetipin server. As these questionnaires require basic observational and analytical skills, surveyors are recruited and trained to feed data and images using the web application. Post-data collection, this geotagged information can be accessed as a shapefile or excel file by the project partners. This data can easily be integrated with existing city databases on GIS or multi-modal apps. In-depth analytical reports are also prepared to provide key recommendations and suggestions for improvement.

Improving safety in urban spaces is also linked to usability of spaces. City administrations are increasingly concerned about walkability, accessibility, and functionality of public spaces. The Safetipin Site app can be customized for each project to collect additional information required by governments. This tool can be used both to diagnose safety issues and monitor public spaces, particularly those where interventions have taken place. Furthermore, Safetipin Site can be used to monitor and evaluate the effects of certain projects or changes that the city has instituted or experienced as in the case of ongoing pandemic.

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