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Creating safer zones with SafetiPin

The map-based application, aiming to enhance advocacy about women and community safety, is available on all Android devices and iPhones

Tanima Banerjee 

Women's security has been much discussed in India. After the success of Channel V's security app VithU, Safetipin, which engages the community on and in the area, was introduced.

People can comment on posts and pictures, deem a certain area as safe, moderately safe or unsafe, define circles of interest, which could be places a person visits most, trace nearest hospitals, police stations and other landmarks in those circles, and discuss safety-related issues.

The map-based application, aiming to enhance advocacy about women and community safety, is available on all devices and It works through GPS/3G/Wifi, mapping information and analysing the safety of a neighbourhood or city. It helps you know what areas can be avoided at a certain time, and what are the safer ways to travel to a place. You can immediately know the security levels of your place, and can engage with living in the neighbourhood. You can discuss issues on walls tagged for a certain area and record how safe you are feeling while visiting a place and initiate further responses from others, or report an incident of harassment and upload pictures.

As an experiment, I used 'audit', that allowed me to review my locality in terms of security. I posted about the damaged streetlights in my colony. In a couple of minutes, a neighbour of mine responded and echoed similar concerns. Soon, we involved more locals in this discussion. Like a team, everyone communicated with messages to the secretary of the area. In 24 hours, our street lights were repaired.

Though the app beefs the safety of citizens and increases awareness on security, its biggest strength of community participation can also be a weakness. The app's success depends on an individual's interest in interacting and in building a safer environment. It often hangs if the net connection isn't fast, and needs to have a neater interface. There are no easy shortcuts to post if one is feeling safe or not unlike the power button in the app. However, this app can be useful for the police, non-government organisations and the government.

First Published: Sun, November 24 2013. 23:15 IST