App review: Safetipin, a safety app handy for women in urban jungles

An app to crowd-source information about neighbourhoods, plans to make cities safer for people

shivangi-narayan

Shivangi Narayan | December 7, 2013



The App?
‘Safetipin’ is a safety app, which aims to provide safety-related information about different areas in a city crowd-sourced by users. In the pilot version, the app has information about 2,000 points in the city (currently only Delhi) and also has mapped data on bus stops, police stations, and other public data already available on the internet.
 
Developed by
Developed by women’s safety expert Kalpana Viswanath with Ashish Basu, former president of NIIT, with support from NGO ‘Jagori’, UK Aid and Ford Foundation.
 
Idea behind the App
Safetipin works on the concept of ‘safety audits’. A user can rate a neighbourhood on the basis of nine parameters. These parameters are (a) street lighting, (b) open spaces (can you see at a distance?), (c) Availability of public transport, (d) visibility (how visible are you to people?) (e) crowd density, (f) gender diversity of the crowd, (g) pedestrian-friendliness , (h) presence of visible security, and (i) how do you ‘feel’ (safe/unsafe) in the area?
If a user does not want to conduct an entire safety audit, he or she can also record a single incident of hazard (open drains/dark alleys/street lights not present) or record an incident of harassment in a neighbourhood.
Data present could be used to gain more information about places in the city. In addition, the moment an audit is done the app rates a neighbourhood for safety on a scale of 1-9, with one being unsafe and nine being the safest. These rates appear as coloured pins on a map of the city on the app: 1-3 are coloured red; 4-6 are coloured orange and 7-9 are coloured green.
As more data is collected through safety audits, the app creators are keen to develop a correlation between a specific parameter on the safety audit and feeling of safety in an area. “In future, we’d like to know what (parameter) exactly makes you feel safe in a particular place,” said Vishwanath.  
As Safetipin also collects information regarding civic issues, it is not just an app for safety. Residents can use it to collect data of what’s not working in their area and in turn pressure the civic authorities to amend the same. “It is also to involve communities in the process of making areas safe in a city, which is an important thing,” she said.

Operation
The app has a simple graphic user interface. The main page has four buttons; menu, wall, record and ‘feeling’. Users can conduct a safety audit by clicking on the menu button. The ‘wall’ feature can be personalised by the users. They can select their circles of interest, parts of the city where they want more information such as near their home or workplace which will be fed to their a wall as and when it is updated.
Record button is to record single cases of harassment or other issues faced by users in case they do not want to conduct a full safety audits.
The feeling button is an interesting feature, which allows you to record your perception of a place irrespective of any other rating.
 
Target group
Though women form the biggest chunk of the target group for Safetipin, the app can be used by parents, travellers, residents of a neighbourhood and anyone who wants to have ground-level information about places in their city.
 
Available at
The app is available for free download at the Apple App store and Google’s Android App store.
 
User feedback
The app was provided to students in Delhi colleges with the preliminary data of 2,000 safety audits. It has been well received; however, till the app collects sufficient amount of data through crowd sourcing its use is limited to people who live in the areas where safety audits are already done.

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