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EyesOnPublicSpaces (Updated May 28)

Keeping in mind the vulnerabilities that women face while occupying public spaces in their day to day lives, Breakthrough seeks to increase women’s safety and security in public spaces in 4 pilot cities — Delhi, Dhaka, Islamabad, and Kathmandu — by employing user-generated report cards that that will gauge the safety quotient of a city from a woman’s perspective. The report cards would be used for advocacy by communities to influence local officials to make improvements in their areas to make women feel safer. These report cards would enable women to rank their sense of safety based on various parameters given and identify the improvements needed so that officials can be recognized for successes or held accountable.

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Provide a short description of your idea

With newspapers increasingly reporting cases of sexual assaults on women, it is critical to initiate a dialogue and engage the general public to prevent violence against women in public spaces. The global phenomenon of rapid urbanization has forced attention on the heightened vulnerabilities that women experience in public spaces in cities, and the lack of acknowledgment and responsiveness to the issue. Through EyesOnPublicSpaces, Breakthrough seeks to address the issue of safe public spaces for women by introducing Report Cards- a tool to gauge the safety quotient of a city from a woman’s perspective. A City Report Card (CRC) is a tool designed to gauge the saftey quotient of a city, particularly from a woman's perspective. The CRC will rate public spaces in terms of how safe it is for women. For instance, how safe are the streets after dark? Do they have adequate lighting, presence of people and police, etc. The CRC will employ a user-generated model to enable women to rank their sense of safety based on various parameters given and identify the improvements needed. In addition, we will also employ the services of research agencies to design and conduct studies to evaluate the safety quotient of a city for women. We will adopt a mixed model for data collection.

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

Breakthrough’s Board the Bus campaign which ran for a month in Delhi during the month of March 2014, was aimed at bringing into the limelight the need for women to occupy public transport in larger numbers and reclaiming that space as theirs. This four week long campaign made women across Delhi speak out about the difficulties they face while commuting using public transport and demand action to bring about change. From students to working professionals, women across sections promised to come out in large numbers and occupy public spaces and ‘board the bus’ to make their city safer for its women. With the ideas and suggestions that Breakthrough received from the women who participated in its Board the Bus campaign, the idea of developing safety report cards was generated. From installation of CCTV cameras in buses to having better lit roads and bus stops, Breakthrough received a number of suggestions from women which are easily do-able for concerned authorities. With the help of EyesOnPublicSpaces, Breakthrough aims at reaching out to women again but this time in four cities and encourage them to speak out, rate their cities, give suggestions for improvement and demand action from duty bearers to bring about change and make their cities safe for them. Taking the Board the Bus campaign further, scaling it up and actually bringing about action, these suggestions will be taken down on the report cards which will then be made into a formal report that will be submitted to the Govt. or concerned duty bearers. Their voices will thus be converted into action. A glimpse of the Board the Bus campaign and what women feel about their safety can be seen in this video.

Show us what implementation might look like.

The implementation of EyeOnPublicSpaces will be done in 3 phases: 1. Designing the Report Cards 2. Popularizing the Report Cards 3. Submitting data collected to respective duty bearers to initiate action Phase 1- Designing - Draw expertise from agencies like A.C Neilsen, Ernst and Young, McKinsey etc and work on developing surveys which can help Breakthrough in designing report cards. These surveys will be conducted in collaboration with agencies mentioned above and will help clearly articulate what is the information we want to collate i.e- bringing in a woman’s perspective to what a city with safe spaces for women should be like. These report cards will me made user friendly with the help of the technical expertise these agencies bring in and will be made available to its users and help them use it in the easiest possible manner. - Drawing insights from research studies conducted by agencies such as UN Women, ICRW etc as well as studies conducted by safe city projects, on what kind of questions to ask, making them as simple as possible. Clubbing together the responses received from the surveys conducted and with the help of research studies, Breakthrough will be able to design report cards which are easy to use with questions easy to understand and answer. Phase 2- Popularize the report cards - By collaborating with partner/ like minded NGOs in all the 4 cities which we plan to work in, Breakthrough plans to reach out to their networks as well, be it mainstream agencies and organizations or their non-profits supporters. These organizations would ideally be working on issues of violence against women, women’s empowerment; safe city issues etc and a collaborative effort will help popularize our report cards and reach out to a much wider audience and garner more suggestions from women across sections on how to make a city safe. - The method Breakthrough plans to adopt to reach out to as many people as possible involves using social media and mobile technology. Going hand in hand with the public surveys as well as secondary research, this usage of the Internet and mobile will make EyesOnPublicSpaces gain maximum mileage, and make the entire process of reporting fast and easy. Phase 3- Submitting data collected to respective duty bearers to initiate action - The data that will be collected with the help of report cards will then be made into a formal report which will be submitted along with suggestions to the Govt./ duty bearers/ concerned agencies who will then be held accountable for bringing about a change and taking necessary action to make their city safer for women. - Provisions will be made to update these reports and re-send them every two years to the Govt. or concerned agency and keep them abreast about latest developments and having greater knowledge about their city’s safety quotient and how hospitable their city is to its women.
EyesOnPublicSpaces will encourage users to rate various public spaces that women wish to occupy. From parks to malls to market places or transit systems, users may employ a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent) in rating public sites and facilities by these indices, compare and peruse ratings of multiple locations, and leave comments. To jump-start this process, partners in each city will administer surveys to average users of select systems.

Breakthrough is considering some of following indices for ranking. There will be more.
  • Street lighting  
  • Access to public toilets
  • Police presence and time taken to respond
  • How well used are the facilities provided?
  • Public convenience  (eg: presence of public toilets, proper bus stops etc)
  • Quality of feeder services (i.e. Connecting services between public transport systems)
Breakthrough’s plan of action
With the help of strategic partnerships, EyesOnPublicSpaces will put pressure on the duty bearers to bring about change. By partnering with traditional and new media organisations, corporates, travel advisory portals as well as advocacy efforts targeting local government, local influencers as well as resident welfare associations, EyesOnPublicSpaces  seeks to begin a discussion on what women perceive as a safe city and also push for social change.

On an annual basis,  EyesOnPublicSpaces will recognize those public spaces with the highest ratings, and make sure that the information is globally available. We believe this will foment competition among cities to not only make their public spaces safer, but also to increase the perception of safety for residents and those considering a visit. This is also because this model is easily replicable and other cities/organisations can also conduct such audits.

EyesOnPublicSpaces will at once empower and inform women vis-à-vis security in public spaces and facilities such as public toilets, bus stops, trains, and metro stations etc. It will also provide a handy source of information to officials responsible for those spaces.  For example: Having a rating scale for the safety quotient of a city on a portal like Trip Advisor will provide people wanting to visit the city a clear idea about safe and unsafe places in advance. This can be put under a city’s “Hospitality Quotient” and the place with the most negatively rated report card can be shared with the the travel and tourism ministry or in other words the responsible duty bearer. This then can act as a mechanism to put pressure on authorities to make public spaces safer for women and making this a top priority for the development of a city and its infrastructure.
Linking of report cards with local police stations are can also be adopted as a technique to put pressure on local bodies to bring about the required changes in the infrastructure of a city in order to make it safe for its women and cater to their needs.

Breakthrough will gather data for   EyesOnPublicSpaces in two ways:
•     Online - users will submit fun, eye-catching and easy to navigate,  EyesOnPublicSpaces report cards which will be accessible via mobile technology (smart phone) and online as a website. These report cards will then be sent across to the designated duty bearer and a demand for action for the creation of safer spaces for women will be put forward. EyesOnPublicSpaces aims at putting pressure on authorities to view safety of public places from a woman’s point of view and thus bringing in greater gender sensitivity. Submission of report cards via non smart phones can also be be done by SMS.

•     Offline - Breakthrough's community volunteers will conduct public surveys with women about their perception about public spaces. The manual filling up of report cards through ‘safety audits’ can also be conducted with the help of agencies for these services.
For example: A Mumbai based NGO Akshara in collaboration with AC Neilsen conducted several safety audits in municipal wards in their city to identify locations which are violence prone and unsafe for women. 

Explain your idea in one sentence.

EyesOnPublicSpaces aims to promote safety and security for women by enabling women to rank their perception of safety, empowering communities to advocate for improvements of public spaces, and assessing what works to make public places safe for women,

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Sexual harassment and assault of women in public places globally — from cat calling, groping, gang rape, and other forms of violence — severely impacts their security, mobility, and agency. It impedes women from operating or patronizing businesses, traveling locally or internationally, and participating in political or social activities. Mobility of women is the first casualty of lack of safety in public spaces. Women in India face glaring restrictions in terms of their mobility. Some may be forbidden from leaving their house without being accompanied by a male relative, others face a curfew on their movements. A woman is unable to realize her full potential when her access to mobility becomes limited. Women’s access to education, to work, to greater equality can only be achieved with safe freedom of movement and visibility in public spaces. Literature from around the world has underscored that the fear of gender-based violence and crime in public spaces affects women and girls’ daily routine, mobility, lifestyle, and the way they experience the public realm. Studies have highlighted that women’s perception of safety, many times, results from fear of violence, and more particularly fear of rape. Through EyesOnPublicSpaces, women will not only receive first-hand and updated perspectives on security in select systems, but also gain solidarity and support from their communities who will advocate with and for them. It will empower women to occupy public places confidently while informing and pressuring local authorities to make improvements to spaces that users deem unsafe.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

EyesOnPublicSpaces will benefit families, women, local residents, business owners, students, travelers, planners, and policymakers — in short, everyone. Women will have an opportunity to make their voices heard as well as obtain perspectives of other women regarding safety and security. EyesOnPublicSpaces will also aggregate first-hand perspectives and experiences in a manner useful to citizen activists pushing for safety improvements and/or organizing to claim or “take back” public transit. The data compiled by EyesOnPublicSpaces will also help measure “what works” to make systems safer and build global standards for use by city planners and government officials in designing renovations and amenities. The strongest gauge of EyesOnPublicSpaces' success will be its popularity and usage. We will monitor this regularly by examining numbers and quality of ratings and posts; hits and page views; user feedback; and incorporation by citizen activists, policymakers, and planners. Per Breakthrough’s modus operandi, EyesOnPublicSpaces will always be in a Beta phase, as we will use this information to continuously tweak and improve the service. In the long term, we will know EyesOnPublicSpaces is successful if it effects improvements in actual and perceived public safety.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

Breakthrough is well equipped to lead a team of partners in implementing EyesOnPublicSpaces. We are a non-profit organization that applies social entrepreneurship and culture change to address the pandemic of violence against women. To achieve significant reductions in this violence, we seek to transform culture itself. Since our founding fifteen years ago, we have harnessed the power of arts, culture, media, and technology to stand for human rights while cultivating strong partnerships throughout South Asia. Our campaigns and accompanying videos, games for change, community theater, workshops, and ample use of the latest media forms have inspired hundreds of millions to rethink and take action around violence against women. In India, we have trained more than 100,000 volunteer “Rights Advocates” who are committed ambassadors for human rights — they will be invaluable in implementing the field aspects of EyesOnPublicSpaces. In addition to an extremely passionate group of volunteers, Breakthrough has considerable experience in using digital technology, especially trans-media games, to address human rights issues. We have also cultivated a broad array of partners and Idea-creators in the arts, celebrity, business, technology, government, and NGO spaces. Partners include actors Sir Patrick Stewart, Amitabh Bachchan, and Irrfan Khan; companies such as Google, Oglivy and Mather, and Vodaphone; and NGOs including BRAC (Dhaka and Islamabad), Saathi (Kathmandu), UNICEF (Delhi), and UN Women’s Safe and Friendly Cities for All Campaign. All of these entities and more will be invaluable in publicizing and disseminating EyesOnPublicSpaces. Breakthrough is well branded in India, where we are best known for our Bell Bajao campaign. Hindi for “ring the bell,” Bell Bajao consisted of compelling 30-second video spots broadcast on Indian television, supplemented by field activities in urban neighborhoods and rural villages. According to an independent external evaluation, whose results were verified by the United Nations, Bell Bajao reached 135 million Indians and registered real changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around violence against women. Bell Bajao proved so popular that it was adapted and implemented in Pakistan, and — by popular demand — Breakthrough has disseminated our methodology to partners in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Where should this idea be implemented?

Not many days ago, newspapers in India carried a news story about a woman police constable who was molested in a moving bus. She not only got the molester thrown out of the bus, she also got him arrested. And all this, without any help or intervention from the bus conductor, driver or her co-passengers. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. It won’t be a gross generalization if we say public spaces are extremely unsafe for women in the Indian subcontinent. For instance, a baseline study done by the Centre for Equity and Inclusion in 2010 found that 95% of women surveyed in Delhi, reported restricted mobility due to fear of being harassed by men. The most unsafe places according to women in Delhi were identified as streets, markets, parks, bus stops, railway stations, alcohol shops, public toilets (CEQUIN (Centre for Equity and Inclusion) 2009. “Perceptions and experience of Gendered Violence in Public Spaces in Delhi”. Baseline report). The situation in Dhaka is no different. Protibadi, a project to develop mobile phone based application to combat harassment in public spaces, had an online survey conducted to determine safety perceptions and experiences of women. of the 121 respondents, 51 were women. All of them reported to have undergone sexual harassment in public spaces. One female respondent wrote: “You will hardly find any Bangladeshi girl who traveled on the streets and has not experienced sexual harassment. Some women are brave enough to talk about it, while others remain silent for many reasons.” With the light thrown in by the studies mentioned above, Breakthrough will pilot EyesOnPublicSpaces in Dhaka, Delhi, Kathmandu, and Islamabad — cities where Breakthrough and partners are well-known and where mobile device ownership is growing. Based on steady monitoring of the project’s success, we will tweak and improve EyesOnPublicSpaceswith an eye towards an eventual global reach.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

Breakthrough has ample experience developing, testing, and launching products that fuse cutting-edge pop culture, smart social media, and on-the-ground community engagement. To inform the design of EyesOnPublicSpaces, Breakthrough and partners will convene focus groups to respond to a range of messages, safety indices, aesthetics, and rating systems. Given the considerable specialized and technical expertise required for this project, Breakthrough will partner with experts for digital design, public relations, and monitoring and evaluation. This will allow Breakthrough to tap the best talent. Our directors and managers will work hand-in-hand with these experts to ensure that their work reflects Breakthrough’s identity, branding, and message consistency. Breakthrough will continually tweak and improve the service based on monitoring, evaluation, and user feedback during the implementation phase of EyesOnPublicSpaces. Breakthrough's community volunteers will conduct public surveys with women about their perception about public spaces. The manual filling up of report cards through ‘safety audits’ can also be conducted with the help of agencies for these services. The idea is not to only audit the area but to change it. In a particular place if someone feels there is a lack of police presence, Breakthrough would lobby to get the police station activated. The report cards would strictly be about harassment in public places and creation of safer spaces for women. For example: A Mumbai based NGO Akshara in collaboration with AC Neilsen conducted several safety audits in municipal wards in their city to identify locations which are violence prone and unsafe for women. Close to 100 interviews were conducted and several safety walks were taken with local women to determine unsafe areas. The collaboration with the Municipality and actions taken by local women they believed would lead to a safer environment for the women. In 2013, Akshara developed HarassMap, a crowd-sourced mapping programme that would enable Mumbaikars to report incidents of sexual harassment and chart out the city’s unsafe localities.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

Smita takes the bus to work every day from Patel Nagar to Nehru Place in Delhi. On her way back, the bus stop is usually dark and she doesn't feel too safe. Smita shares this information in a report card on EyesOnPublic Spaces mobile app along with improvements she thinks the government and community need to make to the bus stops to make her feel more secure. Arjun, Varun, Meghana and Ishita are Breakthrough's on-the ground community volunteers. They make frequent visits to bus stops in various neighborhoods in Delhi to collect information through quick surveys from women who use public transportation. These mini surveys of 4-5 questions will help gather feedback from women who do not have access to the mobile app. The collected information in the form of report cards is used by the community members to advocate with the local authorities to take adequate measures to improve the security around the area in question which would include not just the bus stop but other public spaces like, areas outside stations, restrooms, markets, parks etc. A few months later, Smita uses her mobile app to give feedback again and report on the changes made. Arjun, Ishita, Varun and Meghana also conduct another round of mini-surveys to find out if the women think that transit facilities have improved.

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea have the potential to impact the lives of low-income women and girls living in urban areas?

Yes, the idea clearly targets low-income women and girls living in urban areas. - 60%

The idea targets women and girls but isn’t necessarily focused on those living in low-income urban areas. - 40%

The idea targets people living in low-income urban areas but doesn’t seem to benefit women and girls specifically. - 0%

2. Does this idea describe a set of next steps and a timeline to accomplish them?

The idea clearly outlines next steps, the resources and team needed to execute them and a timeline to accomplish this. - 60%

The idea gives a broad explanation of what it hopes to accomplish but there is no clear timeline or activities to reach its desired goal. - 40%

The idea has not clearly articulated what the next steps are. - 0%

3. How feasible would it be to implement a pilot of this idea in the next 12-18 months?

Very feasible – the next steps described in the contribution seem achievable in this time period. - 60%

A pilot appears feasible but more work needs to be done to figure out how it would be executed. - 20%

The idea is not ready to be piloted yet – the concept needs several more months of user feedback and prototyping to be ready for a pilot. - 20%

4. Does this idea bring a new and fresh approach to the city or region in which it’s set?

Yes, this idea appears to be new and innovative! I’m not aware of other ideas in this city or region that address this need using a similar approach. - 60%

There are other initiatives doing similar work in this area – but this idea targets a new group or has an updated approach. - 20%

I can think of many initiatives addressing the same need using a similar approach in the same region. - 20%

5. How scalable is this idea across regions and cultures?

This is an idea that could help women and girls in many different cities. I can see it being implemented across multiple regions and cultures. - 100%

Maybe but I’d imagine it would need very significant changes. - 0%

The idea is really only suited for one specific region / population. - 0%

6. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

I love this idea! - 60%

I liked it but preferred others. - 20%

It didn't get me so excited. - 20%


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Such an innovative idea, the "Report Card"
I like how you visualize the "Board The Bus" campaign
Practical ideas that really work!

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