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Utility hubs to transform unsafe public spaces into community spaces

Create safety hubs with added utilities in public spaces that are potentially unsafe. After hours when vendors shut shop and streets are desolate women are more vulnerable when commuting. The hub can serve as a meet up point for women pooling, or offer a alarm for a distress alert; it should be manned by police or a community member or monitored via security camera. It can also be transformed into a rickshaw stand or be placed in desolate locations that are not too far from train/bus stations. The power of these hubs could increase if the community could open late night pharmacies or other services that would serve to convert a unsafe area into a frequently visited one to increase traffic in late hours

Photo of Sonali Gogia
10 18

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This project would require the collaboration of the local police and community. First they would have to identify the potential unsafe areas and then see how they could provide surveillance.  The idea of offering a utility service like a pharmacy would require the support of the community, who would be the customers.  The presence of a visible area that is meant for safety and community would work to make women feel safer and lessen the presence of a predator -  My thoughts at this stage or question to the community is to further explore what kind of services can be provided after 8pm, to create activity and traffic around these hubs?  Should the surveillance be provided through a neighbourhood watch in the community in the case of lack of police availability? Should this hub be an enclosed space of open space? 

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Transform unsafe desolate areas by creating safety hubs for women commuting in late hours that are under surveillance and also provide late night utilities to increase the traffic of the local community to these spots.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Women who commute after dark often feel unsafe when commuting from the train or bus station to their homes. They live in fear because they don't know who to contact or where to go when they feel threatened or someone could be following them. Unsafe places can attract more crime in local communities. By converting these unsafe places into useful hubs with the support of the community, women have the knowledge and confidence that there is a place that they go to.

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

Benefits: Women commuting in low income urban areas. The local community will also benefit from eradicating unsafe places. The police will benefit as it will be easier for them to respond to or identify the victim in the case of an alert. The vendors at these hubs will also benefit perhaps by attracting a new market of customers. Monitoring: A hub would be successful if always had a minimum level of human activity - the idea is to attract traffic either in the form of women meeting up for pooling or by offering basic services that locals would use, so at all times the hub should be active, offering women a safe place to go. The success can also be measured by the level of support a woman in distress could receive from the police or the surrounding community.

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

Local communities or NGOs

Where should this idea be implemented?

Mumbai

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

Perhaps by either starting a hub in Mumbai around an existing vendor who would be willing to extend work hours or creating a pop of store and meet up hub in a currently desolate location. This way we can test if indeed low traffic streets and corners can be transformed into places of activity. We can also test this idea with women and local communities to see if they would be open to participating in the surveillance.

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Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Lots of great thinking here, Sonali. We also think your idea could work well in tandem with this idea: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/bindis-community-concierges-to-inform-connect-and-empower We hope you might collaborate to grow each other's concepts. Creativity loves company!

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Hi Sonali, as Meeana noted, we posted an idea that could complement your idea very well. While we had the idea of a hub, we focused more on the person and the services offered. We also thought more broadly than safety only. However, your focus on safety and after 8 pm is a great extension of our concept. The bindis could be in the hub and in the evening, we might think of someone else than the bindi being there. Potentially, we could have at least 2 persons. They could be trained in self-defense and have a way to connect with the police.

We thought of ways of connecting it to existing stands but your idea of connecting it to already existing utility stores is really nice.

We will think a bit more about how to connect the 2 ideas. Let us know if you have any ideas. It might be particularly useful to combine forces to try to prototype the idea.

Spam
Photo of Sonali Gogia
Team

Thanks for pointing me in their direction Meena. The bindi is a very empowering idea.

Spam
Photo of Sonali Gogia
Team

Hello Design Tinkerers!

I enjoyed discovering your idea and hadn't thought of placing women their - how empowering it could be. I also did not focus on newcomers and I agree they are more vulnerable without the support of family, so information can play a big role. I like your suggestion of having two people there, for strength and also to have a back up. I wasn't too sure about whether it would make sense to link a hub to a utility store, but thanks to your encouragement, I actually thought of taking it a little further. I feel that existing shops or vendors in a neighbourhood have a lot to gain if their neighbourhood becomes safer or more accessible. Another idea I had was creating a trip advisor type safety rating sticker to place on these stores that would agree to be part of the 'bindi' network or to work late hours. This would not only bring goodwill, but more business to the stores from women that used that route with the knowledge that a hub was close by. I also wonder for all practical purposes if a hub or bindi concierge can actually be in the utility store. This would minimise costs and investment in a physical hub structure. I will think more about the motivation of a store to participate in this! Look forward to hearing your thoughts and collaborating.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Great idea Sonali! I really like the idea of the hub and I can see
great potential in combining your idea with the bindis.
Interesting idea about the safety rating sticker. Who would be rating the different stores?
Do you have contacts in Mumbai to think of prototyping the idea?

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Sonali,

thanks for your comment. Glad you can see ways to collaborate. We'll meet as a team on Friday to discuss further the next steps regarding different prototyping opportunities.
The idea of having the bindi in a utility store could work. We in fact thought that maybe being a bindi could be a complementary job.
Just to clarify, how do you see the "hub" physically enacted? We thought that the hub was focused on a safety space / zone and we thought the bindi could be a human embodiment of the hub?
To follow up on AL's question (above) do you have any leads in prototyping your idea in Mumbai?

Looking forward to the conversation!

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

I wonder if these guys could be worth trying to contact as a potential prototyping partner or to see if they know of a potential partner in Mumbai? http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/dharavi-diary-a-slum-innovation-project

Spam
Photo of Sonali Gogia
Team

Hi All,

I added three slides to my original idea post after doing some thinking on how our ideas can come together and also to understand the motivation of key stakeholders. I see the physical space as a regular store with the addition of a bright lit visible bindi signage that commuters can easily identify. As for prototyping I can't think of someone at this point in Mumbai..will think a bit more...Am actually based in Milan for now. Do share your inputs after your Friday meeting.

Spam
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great collaborative iterations! Looking forward to hearing more on the awesome onwards evolution of these 2 concepts...

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Thanks Sonali! We'll check the slides. Please also go and check our concept as we've updated it. We will get back to you with more thoughts tomorrow on possible ways to collaborate.

Have you checked this concept? http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/after-hour-homefronts
I found it quite complementary to your concept.