Using SafetiPin to build safer cities for women
Making Bogota a safer place for women with citizen participation.
SafetiPin is a map-based mobile and desktop application, which works to make communities and cities safer by providing safety related information collected by users and trained auditors. At the core of the app is the Women’s Safety Audit, a participatory tool for collecting and assessing information about perceptions of urban safety in public spaces. The audit is based on nine parameters - Lighting, Openness, Visibility, Crowd, Security, Walkpath, Availability of Public Transport, Gender Diversity and Feeling. SafetiPin in partnership with the District Secretary for Women conducted safety audits in the city of Bogota supported by UN Habitat and Cities Alliance.
Background and objectives
The Observatory of Women and Gender Equality of Bogota aims to generate strategic knowledge on the situation of women in the city and disseminate it among the citizens, women’s organizations and all those in charge of making decisions, in order to overcome the physical and cultural barriers that impede women enjoying the city and the night quietly and freely. In the framework of the International Seminar of Safe Cities, realized in Bogota in 2013, it was found that in the city of New Delhi, India, an organization called SafetiPin had created an application for smart cell phones that allows geo-referencing factors that threaten the safety of women in public spaces at night.
The methodology was transferred from New Delhi, India, adapted to the Colombian context and applied in Bogota under the theme « Using SafetiPin to build safer cities for women ». As a result, it was possible to carry out an investigation in which the technology developed in India was used in Bogota through cellular devices adapted to five vehicles. Information was collected on eight variables that help to determine the safety of women: illumination, openness of the space, visibility, number of people occupying the space, presence of public and private security, road status, proximity to public transport and presence of mixed genders.
Objective: Increasing the well-being of the citizens, in harmony with the global agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The pillars on which the project stands are: (i) equality in quality of life; (ii) urban democracy; (iii) community building and citizen culture. This means the public intervention serves the vulnerable population as a priority, in such a way as to materialize the constitutional principle of equality and the effective enjoyment of rights.
« Preventing, punishing and eradicating violence against women. It also promotes guaranteeing women’s rights to freedom, life, physical and psychological integrity, recognizing their body as the fundamental exercise of identity and human dignity not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; right to personal and human security; access to justice in equity, in order to live without fear, both in the public and private pheres » (Article 11, Decree 166 of 2010, Bogota).
Ensuring the « real and effective protection, safeguarding and materialization of the rights of diverse women, that is, promoting their participation and their social organization in the Capital District » (Mission of the District Secretary of Women, Bogota).
Unveiling and making visible those factors that, together with the patriarchal culture, constrain freedom and create barriers for women in public spaces; advancing in overcoming the historical circumstances that place women as subalterns and draw limits, which sometimes circumscribe them to private spaces.
The District Secretary of Women, in agreement with SafetiPin, geo-referenced various points in the city, which were analyzed in the light of eight variables that can determine the safety of a space for women after 6.00pm in the afternoon. Altogether, 17,708 points (road intersections) in Bogota were geo-referenced. The research routes were defined jointly with groups of women who participated in meetings on Security for Women in 2015. These meetings were attended by representatives of women in their diversity (adults, youth, caregivers, disabled, indigenous, Afro-Colombians, people of diverse sexual orientations etc.), who based on their experience and knowledge prioritized the areas and sections in which the research was conducted, through a social cartography exercise.
The coverage of the research was broad, although a deficit occurred in localities with a rural component, and where the conditions of the land and the insecurity, paradoxically, did not allow to include a greater number of evaluated points.
The data on each of the variables measured by the SafetiPin tool in Bogota - lighting, openness of the space, visibility, number of people on site, presence of security (public and private), state of pathways, proximity to public transport and mixed-gender presence - was analyzed.
Financing and resources
The lead agencies for the project are the District Secretary for Women, Bogota and ALS SafetiPin. The project is supported by UN Habitat, Cities Alliance and The Observatory of Women and Gender Equality of Bogota.
Results and impacts
The results show that intermediate safety conditions predominate in Bogota in relation to the variables analyzed with the SafetiPin technology platform. Without it being a trend or always the case, it can generally be observed that the localities where the inhabitants have greater purchasing power, have better security conditions.
As the security of women and their appropriation of public space to enjoy the city, are fundamental issues in exercising their rights as citizens, a proposal is being made to the decision-makers to replicate the successful cases of ensuring safety in the city, as well as to turn more attention to the places that have been identified as potentially dangerous by using the SafetiPin tool.
The 19 urban localities that compose the city of Bogota have the obligation of developing a Local Plan for the Security of Women. The information gathered by Safetipin’s audits has been used in gender mainstreaming in the city’s public policy, specifically in public space decisions, in land use planning and in the city’s overall security plans.
Barriers and challenges
One of the greatest challenges of public policy in general, and of public policy for women’s and gender issues is the lack of information for decision making. The data based on the audits gathered by SafetiPin in its initial phase (photographic analysis) has allowed the city of Bogota to co-relate with other types of information, for example points having low security with locations having high rate of crimes.
Lessons learned and transferability
As unsafety in public spaces is a phenomenon that is present for various reasons, the response to improve it must also be multi-sectoral, (involving several sectors in the district, but also national administration). In this context, it is important to highlight the role of education and culture in solving problems such as for example street harassment. While more police or imprisonments cannot adequately address the issues, higher education levels and a drastic change in the divided culture in Colombia, can lead to denaturalizing and reducing practices of sexual abuse and harassment against women.
Securing public spaces must be designed and implemented with the participation of women, as they are the ones who live the violence and have deep reflections to contribute in the debate. These initiatives must be supported by public policy, such as Public Policy on Women and Gender Equity.
Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES