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Open Safety Audit Mapping (OSAM): Participatory Urbanism for a Safer City

OSAM is a collaborative environment, which enables communities to design safer public spaces for women. First a safety audit ‘drive’ is organized in a neighborhood or around an institutional campus, using the Safetipin application. A group comprising of local community members and volunteers conduct audits of public spaces in the area. The data and analytics from this exercise are displayed on a large interactive map in an open public space such as a park. The map is then used as a canvas upon which local community members can write and draw their reactions and suggestions to the safety audit information provided.

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Update 1: OSAM Experience Map - please see Additional Files (Downloads)

Show us what implementation might look like.

Update 2: OSAM Implementation Timeline - please see Additional Files (Downloads)
A number of volunteers conduct safety audits of all public spaces in a neighborhood, using the Safetipin app. Through this process, precise information on the 8 safety parameters that are part of the Safetipin rubric i.e. lighting, eyes on the street, walk path, diversity of use, openness of the space, crowd, nearest public transport and visible policing are recorded along with a timestamp and the location of the spot is pinned to the map on the application. The 9th parameter in the app is ‘feeling’ which indicates the perception of the person conducting the audit. When the data is analyzed, correlations between ‘feeling’ and other parameters reveal the parameter that should be the focus when designing a course of action.

These safety audits can be done on a Smartphone in less than two minutes per audit. Safetipin is a revolutionary application in this field and an important tool for policy and action. The issue however, is that not everyone in India has a smart phone. Further, it is unlikely that municipal authorities will take action based on the data collected unless there is public pressure to do so. OSAM is the next big step.

Displaying a large Open Safety Audit Map in an accessible community space such as a public park, or the central courtyard of a college campus, opens up access to the safety information and the data analytics on the safety parameters, to the public. Civic engagement is the key ingredient here, which combined with innovative use of safety audit technology and participatory action planning methods, leads to solutions that are owned and implemented by the community in partnership with municipal authorities.  

Update 1: Please download the additional file-  'OSAM Experience Map'

Update 2: Please download the additional file- 'OSAM Implementation TImeline'


Update 3: The research involved in defining the safety audit parameters and rubric
 
The Safetipin team gathered all the different safety audits checklists that had been used in earlier work. This includes the checklist used in Latin America by the Women and Habitat Network, the four country Gender Inclusive Cities Program, the checklist from METRAC Canada, Women in cities International in Montreal and the Jagori checklist from Delhi. They culled out from all these, the common and  key parameters that were being measured and came up with the 8 parameters that were finalised on. The 9th parameter on feeling was to gauge the subjective perception of feeling safe or unsafe and try to work out correlations with the other 8 objective parameters.

Using these 9 parameters, they devised a rubric with four options for each parameter.
 
This rubric was then shared with their International Advisory Committee for feedback. The committee includes, Dr. Sohail Husain, Analytica,UK, Dr. Carolyn Whitzman, University of Melbourne, Urban Planning Dept, Kathryn Travers, Women in Cities International, Montreal, Sara Ortiz, Urban planner with Collectiu Punt 6, Barcelona, Barbara Holtmann, Safety expert, Johannesburg.
 
With the expert feedback, the rubric was refined. Following this, a pilot was conducted Delhi using the parameters with pen and paper. Jagori also participated in this pilot and tested the rubric in their field areas. Following the pilot, further changes were made to the rubric before finalisation, for the mobile app.
 
Update 4: Excperience of using Safetipin with communities that do not have cell phones 
 
Safetipin has introduced the concept of the 'Safety Centre' as a way of working with low income communities and others where smart phone usage is low. This involves a process of collecting data through the mobile, online and through face to face meetings.  This process has begun with two organisations - Jagori in Delhi and Literacy India in Gurgaon. In the case of Jagori, the organisation bought 5 smart phones which were used by youth and women in the community after they had been trained. Along with this, meetings were held with community groups to encourage them to talk about the safety concerns in the area. As they identified areas where they had faced harassment or found hazards, they were pinned on the online system.

Bengaluru Needs You plans to make the OSAM design more and more inclusive, building on these kind of experiments done by Safetipin and Jagori in Delhi, 
 
Update 5: Incentives for users 
 
There are a number of features within SafetiPin that are of use to any user -

1.       Wall Feature.  Users can set ‘circles of interest’ and view and comment on posts in areas they are interested in
2.       Pins themselves.  Users visiting an area for the first time can see scores and comments in the area
3.       Scores.  Belts are awarded to users based on the extent of their participation.  Belts of the auditors are also visible for each post
4.       Tracking.  Users can allow themselves to be tracked by their friends and family
5.       Helplines.  SafetiPin provides a set of helpline numbers in each city where we have presence
6.       Locate Feature.  Users can locate nearby medical facilities, police, transport and places through SafetiPin and also get directions to get there
7.       Emergency Button.  If the Emergency button is selected, a message goes out both my email and sms to all mentioned parties
 

 

Explain your idea in one sentence.

An interactive map depicting safety audit information is displayed in a public park, enabling communities along with municipal authorities to use a participatory planning process to make their own neighborhoods safer for women.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Women regularly face harassment and threat of violence in dense urban spaces, especially in Indian cities. OSAM does not attempt to resolve all issues regarding women’s safety in cities and we recognize that a large part of the problem can only be solved through cultural change, especially in the context of Indian cities. However, based on research, various characteristics of the built environment are revealed to be highly correlated with feelings of safety in public spaces. The data collected by Safetipin so far has also revealed a very high correlation between the 8 safety parameters and the perception based ‘feeling’ parameter. Further, there is a large gap in terms of accurate data on safety parameters in public spaces, which prevents civic authorities from taking appropriate action to prevent incidences of harassment and violence. OSAM aims to facilitate constructive interaction between communities and civic agencies to resolve these issues. More specifically, OSAM addresses the following needs- 1. Making important local safety information accessible to everyone in the community 2. Condensing the complex components of women’s safety in public spaces into measurable parameters 3. Identifying those characteristics of the built environment that make certain public spaces in the city hostile and dangerous for women 4. Using data and design to enable citizens to interact with the built environment and make it respond to their needs 5. Creating a bridge between citizens and municipal authorities 6. Helping municipal authorities allocate resources better to tackle the issue of unsafe public spaces

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

At the first stage, OSAM would directly benefit the local community in the area where it is implemented by providing safety information and triggering the process of community driven change based on scientifically collected data. At the next stage, civic authorities would benefit from having a rich database of safety audit data pinned to a map to be used as an urban planning and policy making tool. Eventually, OSAM would benefit the entire city by helping citizens make public spaces safer for women. The monitoring and impact assessment for OSAM is entirely transparent and largely automatic. Safety audits done through Safetipin are automatically pinned to the map and accessible to anyone anywhere in the world who has downloaded the app. In order to measure the impact of the OSAM, the baseline data set of audits (conducted before the public meeting) are compared to the endline data set of audits (conducted after implementation of the participatory action plan devised by the community during OSAM). The change in the perception parameter i.e. ‘feeling’ from the baseline to the endline gives a tangible, measurable indicator for the success of the exercise. Similarly, changes in various other safety parameters can be measured over time.

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

Bengaluru Needs You (BNY), in partnership with Safetipin has done pilot projects based on this idea in two neighborhoods in Bangalore. The BNY team plans to carry out OSAM exercises across other neighborhoods in Bangalore over the next few months. In order to scale up the implementation of this idea, various civil society organizations can be involved in organizing OSAM across Bangalore as well as other Indian cities. The office of the municipal councilor can also take responsibility for conducting OSAM.

Where should this idea be implemented?

This idea can be implemented in any dense urban location. The Safetipin rubric has been designed to work across cultural and geographic contexts and the app has already been launched internationally, hence the technology is not a limitation in spreading the OSAM concept to any city. The process and the entities involved in organizing the display and public meeting, would should be designed according to the local context.

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

The pilot phase for OSAM would involve conducting the exercise through various partnership models. In some neighborhoods, an active municipal councilor might be the best driving force, while in others an institution such as a college campus, and apartment block or an office compound might be a more suitable partner. Various different communication methods to facilitate the public interaction around the maps would also be tested out.

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

Shruti is a resident of Frazer Town. She and her friends avoid certain public spaces in their own neighborhood, due to the threat of sexual harassment. Shruti's mother has told her that "bus stops, autorickshaw stands, parks and other public spaces are areas one should stay away from after sunset". Some of Shruti's friends volunteered with Bengaluru Needs You to conduct safety audits using Safetipin in Frazer Town. During the course of one evening, the group audited around 100 public spaces spread over an area of about 1.5 square kilometers. The next day, Shruti was taking an evening walk with her family when she saw a large map of Frazer Town depicting color coded information on safety scores and analysis of various safety parameters. The map was displayed prominently in an accessible area of the park, with volunteers standing around it to explain and facilitate a discussion. The local residents participated in a community meeting that evening, organized by Bengaluru Needs You, with the municipal councilor and his team in attendance. Using markers and post-it notes, residents put up their suggestions on the map and came up with an action plan to make the unsafe public spaces in their locality safer for women. As more safety audits are done and the map on the Safetipin application is populated with data, Shruti and her friends would be able to feel safer and more informed while navigating the city. Citizens' groups and civic agencies would also have a powerful tool which can be used to design interventions to make the city less hostile for women.

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Here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can see who they're collaborating with here. Think skills, experience, passions & more!

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Team

Would be great if you can fill out the two additional sections in the submission form: Show Us What Implementation Might Look Like + Get a User's Perspective on Your Idea. We're sure you've got further insights to share for both sections, ahead of our Evaluation phase which starts in a couple of days.

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DeletedUser

Hi Meena, sorry about the delay, please check out our new updates!

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Great to look through all your latest updates, Kriti.

Something that I wondered about was the language issue for training and explaining icons, etc on the public map. And also whether some of the terms being used might need to be tailored for mainstream outreach. eg. Will communities be drawn to terms like "safety audit mapping," "minimal security," "diverse space," etc? Or do you imagine that you would come up with terms which are more likely to resonate with low-income communities?

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DeletedUser

Thank you for bringing up this important question Meena! We have thought about it, and in our pilots, have been very conscious of the terminology used and its local receptiveness. Fortunately, community meetings have a long tradition in various parts of India, in the form of 'gram sabhas' at the village level, 'mohalla sabha' in urban neighborhoods, etc. The working title for the community meeting part of OSAM in Bangalore would be- 'suraksha sabha' ('safety meeting' - the translation is the same in Hindi and Kannada). For the audit drive stage of OSAM, we will continue to work mostly with college students, youth volunteers etc. Since the audit parameters are objective, the data would not be affected by the socioeconomic background of the 'auditor' - the community would become involved at the next stage - during the community meeting/ suraksha sabha and implementation of their participatory action plan.

At a couple of selected locations we plan to devise Kannada training modules for women from within the low income communities to conduct the audits as well. There is also a provision on Safetipin to geo-pin a location and enter only the subjective 'feeling' parameter. Eventually, in order to scale up and validate audits in low-income communities, audit drives may be conducted by trained college youth (or other volunteers), and then the data triangulated by conducting a 'feeling' of safety audit with women from the community.

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