Safe Spaces everywhere - #SheTransformsTech

Safecity- Elsa D'Silva
Posted April 6, 2020 from India


I am the Founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation which works at the intersection of gender, data and tech, urban design and community engagement. Its flagship program is Safecity, a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data which maybe anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration to identify factors that causes behaviour that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions.

We have a web app and mobile app on iOS and Android as well as missed call for anonymous reporting and use the data to engage police, transport officials and local municipalities to find solutions. Recently we have added new categories - domestic violence to address the spikes happening all over the world due to social distancing and lockdowns and COVID19 related information on food and resources so that it is easily searchable.

Thus far the data from our crowd map has been used to engage over 700,000 people across India and different other parts of the world namely Kenya, Nepal and Malaysia.

  • What do you need to reach your goal?

Collaborations across NGOs, educational institutions and government bodies to use the map and the data collected to find solutions.

  • What successes have you had? 

We are creating a new data set which currently does not exist. Perception of the police's insensitivity as well as cultural backlash deters people from reporting. They feel more comfortable using our platform and this is seen by reports from over 20 years ago. By representing the information thus collected on a map as hotspots, we are moving the focus away from the "victim" to the location and people can view the issue with a different lens. Today we make choices for pretty much everything based on reviews - books, movies, restaurants, hotels but we have nothing for personal safety. 

Impact so far:

  • Police in Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Bangalore and Pune are accepting monthly trend reports of Safecity data. Police in Mumbai and Delhi changed their beat patrol timings and increased vigilence.
  • Municipal authorities and elected representatives in Delhi assured the community that clean toilets would be made available.
  • Transportation authorities issued “women only” bus licences in Kathmandu.
  • Western Railways and Railway Commissioner of Police have accepted our recommendations on Safe Railways based on Safecity reports, audits and analysis.
  • Integrated our child sexual abuse awareness program into the Delhi police’s Parivartan school program.
  • 200 schools in Satara are part of our Safe Children's program.
  • 20 colleges in Maharashtra are partners on the Safe College Campus Program.
  • Leadership development amongst young women and men to enable gender equality, prevention of VAW and gender equal spaces. Over 500 youth leaders have attended our leadership programs.
  • Over 25,000 people have attended our awareness workshops on sexual violence and Know your legal rights.
  • We have been partnering with NGOs in 25 neighbourhoods in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Patna, Satara and Ahmedabad.
  • Global app being used by over 10 international organisations locally in their work.
  • Vice chair of NGO Committee for Social Development at the United Nations and Associate Member of  UN Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, Committee Member of the Urban Thinkers Campus, Women’s Major Group, C-190 Task Force, NGO Committee on Finance for Development, Sum4All and Civicus Alliance.
This story was submitted in response to We Are Leaders.

Comments 7

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Jill Langhus
Apr 06
Apr 06

Hello Dear Elsa,

How are you and your family doing? Welcome back! It's great to see an update from you, and to hear that you've added more categories to your app, too. That's great that so many people are using it now. You've had such an impact in so many areas... great job!!!

Hope you and your family are safe and well, dear!

Thank you Jill. We are all fine and hope you and your loved ones are too. Are you still in Spain?

Hello, Dear Elsa,

How are you doing? Wow, your milestones and impact are impressive! I'm hoping for the best on your application.

Anita Shrestha
Apr 07
Apr 07

Thank you for shairng

Apr 24
Apr 24

Thanks for sharing, Elsa. What a such powerful influence tool from not only victims but also promoting awareness, "threats" to "offenders" and more pragmatic protective impose by the communities and government to prevent/avoid more victims. Awesome indeed!

Chioma Nwaoha
May 02
May 02

Thank you for sharing.

Julie Desai
May 24
May 24

Thanks for sharing