Using Safetipin to Build Safer and Inclusive Public spaces

Using Safetipin to Build Safer and Inclusive Public spaces


Safetipin is a mobile app and technology platform that collects and disseminates information and data about safety issues in a city. Data is generated through our two apps - My Safetipin which is a platform for citizen engagement and user generated data. The second app Safetipin Nite collects pictures of the city through a vehicle. We use the tool of the safety audit which identifies specific parameters that make a city feel unsafe for women and girls in particular.

Background and Objective

Situation Before the Initiative Began: Safety in public spaces in cities is a big problem in cities around the world, particularly developing countries and in India where this initiative began. Women are particularly vulnerable to violence and fear and this prevents their equal participation in urban life. Crime rates have been rising. Establishment of Priorities: The priority was to enhance women's mobility and participation in cities through addressing the factors that caused insecurity and fear. There was growing evidence through research, as well as media and cases of the nature and extent of urban violence that women faced. We consulted with NGO's in India as well as with global experts on violence and insecurity in cities, particularly for women. Based on all this evidence, the initiative focussed on women's right to the city with the belief that addressing vulnerable groups will enhance safety for all. Formulation of Objectives And Strategies: The main objective of the initiative was to enhance urban safety with a focus on women and girls. We built a technology platform using an app for citizens to engage with in order to make it participatory as well as widely available. The tool uses the methodology of the safety audit as a way of assessing public spaces from the point of view of users in order to generate data that is shared with urban stakeholders to prioritise actions to make cities safer. We work with several city authorities and governments in India as well as in developing countries. Mobilisation of Resources: We got our initial financial support from DFID to help us develop the app, test it , conduct some pilots and then work towards scaling up. DFID supported for almost three years to take forward the initiative. We have also received support from foundations including Ford Foundation, The Asia Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Since 2015, we have also received support from the UN. We were awarded a grant from Cities Alliance as part of the Catalytic Fund to give data and technical support to New Delhi, Nairobi and Bogota city governments. UN Women has supported us in several cities to give technical support to city governments including New Delhi and Bhopal in India, and Manila. We have worked closely with women's groups in 10 Indian cities to strengthen their work on reducing violence through our app and technical support. We supported them financially in this endeavour. Currently we are working directly with city governments to provide them with technology support. We have a partnership with Uber globally to help us collect data about public spaces through our app Safetipin Nite which takes Night time pictures of the city for us to analyse.

Actions and Implementation

The initiative is focused on collecting data for two purposes - to help individual citizens make safer decision and secondly city governments and authorities to help them improve urban safety. We have two apps and a technology platform for data analysis and data visualisation. We use these to provide data and technical support on using the data to urban stakeholders , government and civil society. Initially we began data collection only through crowd d sourcing but soon realised that we we needed to supplement this with more robust data and therefore we built our Safetipin Nite app. Through these two methods we have collected data in 30 cities in India and globally.We have over 70,000 downloads of the app and constantly interact with users. Further we have worked closely with university students and youth to collect data in many cities including NewDelhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune in India and Nairobi, Jakarta and Manila. We work very closely with NGO's and women's groups who work at the grassroot level in low income neighborhoods . Through these effort we are able to ensure that the most vulnerable groups also have access to the technology and are able to share their voices and concerns. We have conducted over 100 sessions in low income neighborhoods with women and youth in partnership with NGO's. the data collected has been used by them for advocacy to improve their neighborhoods and address safety concerns. Young women especially have participated in large numbers. The data has been used to effect several kinds of responses. In Delhi it has led to improvement of dark spots around the city; in Bhopal it led to addressing safety and infrastructure along the bus corridor; in Bogota, the city administration have placed CCTV cameras at vulnerable spots pointed out by the Safetipin data. We assess performance through measuring usage of our app which are available through app analytics. this we measure on a weekly basis. We also assess through how urban stakeholders use the data for advocacy of programming. This is a measurement of our outreach, partnership building and usefulness of data for improving conditions of safety.

Outcomes and Impacts

The financial resources till date have primarily been grants or payment for services. We are currently working with several city administrations and are looking to cost our services to ensure sustainability. We have collaborations with several Indian city administrations including Delhi, Bhopal, Guwahati and are in conversation with several other smart cities. We are providing a solution that smart cities can use to address both safety and security as well as expanding public spaces. We are also collaborating with UN Women, UN Habitat and UNICEF to provide technical expertise to cities. We believe this will be a sustainable model of working. The primary focus of the initiative is gender and social inclusion and safety in public spaces in cities. We have ensured that women and girls remain at the centre of all the work done and their voices are given prominence. The solution we are offering addresses both SDG 5 as well as SDG 11 in terms of making public spaces safer, enhancing mobility of women and others. The parameters that the technology measures through its apps are working towards supporting cities with an efficient and ongoing method of data collection that is able to both get citizen voices through crowdsourcing as well as use technology to collect reliable city wide data based on photographs. We believe that this methodology can be used to measure many different parameters in public spaces and is a very low cost solution for cities. Making cities safer and accessible for all improves its walkability and bikeability and there fore improve pollution and congestion that plague most of the cities in the developing world. The move towards non- motorised transport is promoted by improving safety as well.

Gender and Social Inclusivity

We began the initiative in Delhi and have subsequently transferred it to other cities in India as well as to Bogota, Colombia and Nairobi, Kenya. In this effort we had the support of UN Habitat Safer Cities program. In both of these cities, the data has been used in innovative ways by the local government. In Nairobi, the City County has used the data collected in Eastleigh neighborhood as an opportunity to engage with the local community and understand their safety and public space concerns in order to plan the space better. They used the input from Safetipin and community meetings to redesign the market and the street, including improvement of lighting. In Bogota, the methodology of Safetipin NIte using moving cars, was transferred to bicycles in order to audit the bike path across the city. This was then used to determine how to make the path safer, as well where to install CCTV cameras. It is also being used in Quezon City, Manila in partnership with ABD, UN Women and the Quezon administration. We have a collaboration with Uber globally who help us collect data through using SafetipinNite on their taxis.

Innovative Initiative

Safetipin is an innovative one-of-a-kind technology and the entire 3.5 years has been a learning process. We built an app to collect data primariy through crowdsourcing, but learnt very early on that crowdsourcing is limited. Also when we approached city governments we found they didn't find it robust enough. Our response was to build a second app with a novel method of data collection using photographs. When we approached city administrations with both sets of data, they were more willing to use it, as it was both robust and had voices of people. We were challenged initially on how to reach the benefits of Safetipin to people and neighborhoods that are low income in order to bridge the digital divide. We came up with a couple of methods combining online as well as offline methods of data collection and community interactions and working directly with NGO's in order to have an impact in low income neighborhoods. It was a very interesting approach as we found that people in low income neighborhoods learnt the technology very fast and understood its benefit and potential. This was very heartening and we have expanded to many more neighborhoods. One of the problems with any smart phone technology is the usage and availability of networks (2G, 3G or 4G) which can be quite a challenge in many places. Sometimes it is expensive for people to use. This feedback prompted us to find a solution for the usage of some features of My Safetipin app on an offline mode. This has greatly benefited users.

Resources devoted to delivery

Pocket aids keep you safe in dark alleys, at late hours http://timesofi ndia.indiatime ennai/pocketaids- keep-you -safe-in-darkalleys- at-latehours/ articles how/6014960 6.cms Saranya Chakrapani Times of India - 21-08-2017 - Rate the city safe ccanchronicle .com/lifestyle/ viral-and-tren Priyanka Shankar Deccan Chronicle - 03-08-17 - Not sure which streets are safe? This app will guide you https://www.r ation/173220- safetipin-appphilippines- an ti-harassmentapp Rambo Talabong Rappler - 17-06-2017 - Need to make public transport in Delhi women-friendly: Study http://www.hin dustantimes.c om/delhi-new s/need-to-ma ke-public-tran sport-in-delhiwomen- friendl y-study/story- Eq8h997zRiq 8XTdIr7dQ0H .html Sweta Goswami Hindustan Times - 14-06-2017 - How mobile apps are making cities safer for women https://www.d ws/how-mobil e-apps-are-m aking-cities-s afer-for-wome n-89768 Jenny Lei Ravelo Devex - 15-03-2017 - (Re)centering street harassment – an appraisal of safe cities global initiative in Delhi, India (Re)centering street harassment – an appraisal of safe cities global initiative in Delhi, India Shweta M. Adur, Shreyasi Jha Journal of Gender Studies 1465-3869 20-12-2016 9 Apps to make women feel safer http://techcircl m/2016/10/14 /apps-to-mak Shruti Jain Techcircle - 14-10-16 -


This practice has been supported by the Smart Cities mission that has been launched in India and currently there are 98 smart cities in the list. Safetipin can support several of the features that are being developed by smart cities including safety, walkability, preserving and developing open spaces, promoting mixed use of land, improving last and first mile connectivity. Safetipin specifically addresses all these urban challenges and aims to provide data for cities to use in order to prioritise as well as plan better.


Asia and the Pacific



Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable