OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

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.

Photo of DeletedUser
25 83

Written by DeletedUser

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

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.

Evaluation results

0 evaluations so far

25 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

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

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
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.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

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

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

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?

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

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.

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Women's Safety Challenge Refinement list! As you work to refine your idea in this next phase, consider the following questions: Why is the initial safety audit based only upon the Safety Pin application? Does that exclude members of the community without smartphones? We love the interactive map displayed in a public park. How might members of the community add data to the map in a way that it can be integrated back into the digital version of the map? What does an average safety audit look like? How do you make sure that this audit includes the voices of women and girls from the community? How might a 14 year-old girl living in the local community use the safety information gathered by this project to be safer or feel safer on a daily basis? If she’s already from the community, isn’t she likely to already know the places that are safe or unsafe? What makes your idea scaleable to other communities? For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out http://ideo.pn/ws-refine-tips and catch our Tools for Refinement at http://openideo.com/content/tools-for-the-womens-safety-challenge-refinement-phase.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Dear OpenIDEO team, we hope that some of our updates will answer your questions.

'Why is the initial safety audit based only upon the Safety Pin application? Does that exclude members of the community without smartphones?' - Please see Update 3 and Update 4

'How might members of the community add data to the map in a way that it can be integrated back into the digital version of the map?' - We have consulted the technical Safetipin App team on this, and are working on a way to convert the data 'pinned' on the physical OSAM map during the community meeting, onto the digital version, using symbols. However, we think it is more important that the physical map is displayed at the local ward corporator's (municipal councilor) office so that the community members, including those without smartphones, can see it whenever they wish to. Displaying the OSAM map in the ward office would also serve as a constant reminder and accountability mechanism for the civic authorities to act on the community's participatory safety plan.

'What does an average safety audit look like?' 'How do you make sure that this audit includes the voices of women and girls from the community?' 'How might a 14 year-old girl living in the local community use the safety information gathered by this project to be safer or feel safer on a daily basis? If she’s already from the community, isn’t she likely to already know the places that are safe or unsafe?' - Please see the Experience Map (Update 1) and Update 5.

'What makes your idea scaleable to other communities?' - OSAM is scaleable in cities across the world. The Safetipin App is already available in 3 languages- English, Hindi and Spanish. The 'symbols' used in the interface also make it possible for a person, once trained in using the app, to do safety audits without being able to read the language. The community meeting stage of OSAM would need an organization like BNY, focusing on local urban issues and with a good working relationship with urban local bodies and ward councilors, to implement. All the parameters used in the safety audits are objective and not specific to any particular local context. At the same time, the community's participatory safety plans will be hyper local.

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

We're digging the publicly accessible nature of this community mapping concept! From the pilots you've done in Bangalore, what have you learnt so far? What was successful and what was more challenging about your prototyping endeavours?

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thanks Meena!

The local community has been enthusiastic in their response to Open Safety Audit Mapping and the discussion generated around it. Being able to recognize their neighborhood streets and corner shops on the large map seems to create a sense of ownership. The community meeting also leads to a validation of the safety audit scores as most residents seem to agree on the unsafe nature of the public spaces that got red pins (the lowest safety scores), thereby improving the credibility of the app and the ‘technology’ assisted method of conducting audits.

The challenge is to convert the vibrant OSAM exercise into an actionable plan to 'fix' the identified unsafe locations. A wide range of suggestions tend to emerge from the community, including suggestions that are not directly linked to the safety audit parameters or the gaps identified through analyzing the data. The process of constructively linking people’s opinions and suggestions with what is revealed by the data is very interesting and we are trying to figure out how to structure the meetings better. We need to organize several more pilots in neighborhoods with varying socioeconomic conditions, to establish a methodology can lead to comprehensive community - designed women’s safety initiatives.

Another ex-post challenge is to amplify the advocacy efforts to get civic agencies to implement the community’s participatory action plan. Bengaluru Needs You, through its founder Dr. Rajeev Gowda, has access to a wide institutional network including educational institutions, municipal councilors, the police etc. in Bangalore, and can carry forward the advocacy efforts for OSAM to be successful. In other cities, organizations that have such networks should ideally implement this idea, or institutions such as the police can directly take this up as part of the design of community policing programs. Advocacy efforts would also become easier, once we start using the same tool to conduct end-line audits and prove that the area has indeed become safer (in terms of the perception indicator as well as the other tangible ones). Eventually, we hope that OSAM can become integrated into the urban planning process, which at least in the Indian context is still very top-down and not responsive to the needs articulated by communities.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hi Kriti,

Congratulations on making it this far!! While your model of participatory governance seems like the need of the hour what methods do you plan to use to influence the local administration to take heed of the situation and rectify the issues in a particular area? Also how do you plan to measure the outcome and is there a chance that this exercise might indirectly alter the real estate scenario of the region leading to increased population density in certain areas and therefore greater strain on resources?

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Kriti, this idea is very intriguing, and one that could be very practical for many communities. I like how it is open participation for any community member, and there is no restriction on input. A very neat concept, and a great way to gather information from many different people/sources.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hello Shravani ! Great idea.. do share the audit results for our consumption and understanding..all the very best :)

Spam
Photo of Shravani Rao
Team

Thank you! We'll keep you posted. :)

Spam
Photo of Sonal Shah
Team

This is a great initiative with a lot of potential. It may help to address some of the concerns around mapping safety and unsafety using technology.
1. How does it not become a platform for middle class vigilantism?
2. Whose voices get amplified and which voices are silenced?
3. How do we address class, caste and religious biases which might result in "mapping" certain areas as unsafe?
4. Lastly, how can the app guide interventions by the municipal corporation, such that the issue is addressed? For example, the lack of street lighting affects feelings of safety, which may bet highlighted. However municipal corporations generally think from the point of view of vehicles and may install lighting that illuminates carriageway and not footpaths! As an architect-urban planner, I have observed this when working with agencies. It may help to tie these with the specific checklists such that the right interventions are made. I'd be happy to collaborate on developing these.!
5. Lastly, it may help if the wealth of information collected in this process can result in guidelines for safe and unsafe places!

Just wanted to share a similar idea that I had posted, specifically focussing on low-income municipal schools.

http://openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/cities-secure-by-design

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hi Sonal,
Thanks for your questions and inputs!

1. We want the middle class to be engaged with advocacy of women's safety as this will eventually pressurise the government to solve these issues. This move engages the middle class directly. However, it will lead to no form of vigilantism as it generates impersonal data, and does not target anyone /anyone community in specific.

2. The Safetipin app itself is accessible to anyone with a smart-phone and displaying a large Open Safety Audit Map in an accessible community space makes it open for discussion by all. We are perfecting the methodology of facilitating these meetings so that concerns of all communities are adequately represented.

3. The OSAM process reveals an area to be unsafe based on parameters purely concerning the built environment. An assumption by the authorities /people that these areas are unsafe because of the class/caste/religion of the communities living there are unsubstantiated , and we will sensitize them to this as we engage with them. We will take adequate measures to prevent stereotyping of neighbourhoods. The solutions we propose are tied directly to improvements that the governing bodies can make to the built environment.

4. Absolutely, Sonal. This is a potential issue we may encounter, and would be happy to collaborate with you to fine tune the data collected and streamline the communication with the authorities by way of these checklists.

5. Our aim too, is to produce a report on safe/unsafe places as implementation is underway and sufficient data has been collected.

Hope to talk to you soon :)

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thanks for your questions Sonal!

Adding to Bhargavi's response above-

3. This is a very valid concern and any mapping exercise that gives 'scores' can fall into the trap of reinforcing stereotypes, especially when it comes to low income neighborhoods. It is reassuring however, that Safetipin data from Delhi (where the largest number of audits have been done so far), reveals that low income neighborhoods do not seem to have significantly worse safety scores. This lack of correlation could presumably hold true for other sociocultural characteristics as well but further research is needed to ascertain this. Regarding the biases expressed during the community meeting and the advocacy process, we would have to address these on a case by case basis, and as our team does more OSAM exercises, we would learn more about how to deal with them.

Bengaluru Needs You would be very glad to collaborate with Embarq on developing urban planning and design guidelines to make public spaces safer for women - based on statistical inferences from the Sefetipin data and lessons from the public meetings. Lets talk more on this!

Thanks also for the link to your submission focusing on municipal schools- its a great idea and consistent with what we are trying to do with OSAM- in terms of involving various stakeholders and mapping unsafe places. I have posted a comment!

PS: I love how this Open IDEO challenge is already opening up possibilities of off-line collaborations!

Spam
Photo of Sonal Shah
Team

Dear Bhargavi and Kritti,
Its great that you'll are thinking about and finding ways to negotiate the potential stereotypes / biases and moral vigilantisms, that may come up. It can greatly strengthen the value of this application!

It might be great to photograph / sketch and compare the the kind of mapped safe and unsafe places, which my give a number of clues to devising guidelines! Will definitely check your comment and get in touch!

Spam
Photo of Sonal Shah
Team

Dear Bhargavi and Kritti,
Have you'll tried using the app and / or conducting the audits in low income areas? It may reveal very interesting learnings on adapting it?

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Great initiative and very sensible idea !! If we are able to rope in such safety parameters into matters governing rentals and real estate values, I'm sure it will send the right jolts, pushing the community to work on these problems which are never considered personal unless it affects the community at large, directly.

I have personally felt insecure amidst BMTC bus drivers. At one instance, a conductor just came and tried sitting next to me in a 25A route bus, when all the passengers had alighted at Lal Bagh at about 11.30 AM. Sadly, I sprang up, yelled at him and managed to get off the bus at the next stop that was just a few seconds away. "He may have meant no harm", said BMTC authorities, when I went to the Shanti Nagar Depot, to register a complaint, despite knowing the fact was that the conductor had at least 50 other seats in an empty bus before trying to sit next to me. Day in and day out, women face the embarrassment of conductors who lean on to their seats even when buses aren't crowded and there is ample space along the men's area.

In another instance, a colleague of mine was being followed by a stalker in a BMTC bus, at about 9 PM, who slowly gathered company along the route, as he made phone calls. She had to alight the bus suddenly and escape in an auto rickshaw. Thanks to a trust worthy auto driver, she had a dramatic, yet narrow escape even after the fact that the auto was chased. Sadly, my Bengaluru has alerted me of more such instances in the last few years than in the past.

The reason I share this, is to try and find if we can also include in the audit, parameters adjudging "safety of commute in a locality by bus / 2 wheeler / auto/ even walking" and the data may be used to publish "unsafe time zones", "routes", etc. This may be too demanding a request, but am sure some one will pick up cues from here for a better future.

All the best to the team in making this effort a success !!

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

We at Safetipin have found this partnership with BNY very fruitful. We are thrilled that they have found Safetipin to be a useful tool in mapping public spaces and using the data to interact with communities and neighborhoods. We hope many other groups in cities around the world also find Safetipin a useful tool to analyse the safety of their public spaces.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thanks for your encouragement and support Kalpana!

Spam
Photo of Natasha Freidus
Team

I love the fact that you have included an "offline" physical map to be publicly displayed and look forward to hearing more about it. In a project I was involved with a few years ago, we did something similar, in a portable large map that was carried around to community meetings as well to foster dialogue and action. http://archive.somervillecdc.org/communitymap/

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thank you Natasha! I love the idea of making the 'offline' map portable. It would be especially helpful in neighborhoods that don't have centrally located and accessible public space where the map can be displayed.

Spam
Photo of Dayaprasad Kulkarni
Team

Hello Kriti: This is a fantastic idea. Keep us posted about your progress. We have volunteers who can join in to do the safety audits. Hopefully see you at the Bangalore Plays event on Saturday.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Thanks Dayaprasad. Yes I will be there at Bangalore Plays and would be great if your volunteers could join us to conduct more audits.