Recently, Delhi’s ruling party AAP started working on its electoral promise of installing street lights at the capital’s dark spots to make the city safer for women. AAP’s Public Works Department (PwD) has started the work by acknowledging over 7,000 dark spots in Delhi.
These dark spots are detected by an NGO, Safetipin, that works to ensure safety for women in Delhi through data-driven decision making techniques. Delhi is infamous for being the most unsafe for women.
To make it safer, street lights in all the dark places in Delhi seems to be a very logical option. To find how Safetipin could find 7,483 dark places with no street lights in Delhi, we talked to its founder, Kalpana Viswanath who told SheThePeople.TV, “We collected the data through something called safety audit. And it happens through two ways — one is user-generated where people download the Safetipin app and share their experience about any particular place in terms of safety for women. This is sometimes the general public and sometimes we collaborate with NGOs and send out volunteers to do it.”
She added, “We have another app called Safetipin Night and we attach our phones to the windshield of the cars and it takes pictures after every 100metres and then we access the pictures to find out about these dark spots.”
Safetinpin has the largest data on Delhi’s streets and areas all because of their safety audit.
When asked if street lights will make a huge difference in lowering the crime rate against women, Kalpana said, “Definitely, I mean I don’t think that’s the only thing that needs to be done, but certainly it is a good start.”
“This is a low-hanging fruit so the government can do this. Of course, other parameters are also important like good judicial system, proper policing, policy-makers working with schools. All these are very important but I think good lighting is a very urban design principle which we can address.”
But is night the only dangerous time when crimes in Delhi are happening in broad day-light as well? Kalpana says, “There is ample data that says well-lit places make women feel safer. And this is also true that crime can occur at any time and some crimes occur in the daytime but a lot more of sexual violence does occur in the night-time. More than that, women feel unsafe after dark.”
Night time also sees less women out on the streets and vey rarely alone. It is only women who have late-night jobs or return from their jobs late at night who are out on the streets. And all these women living in Delhi feel scared in the late hours because of the dark and no support system.
“When women start feeling safe even at late hours, more of them will be seen out at night just like men. So street lights are a good way of making the streets more active even at night,” Kalpana said.
The other things that can be done to make public spaces safer for women are natural surveillance or eyes on the street through the general crowd like venders, cafe owns etc and building walkpaths alongside the streets, Kalpana said.
Kalpana is of the opinion that if a separate space is provided to vendors other than them encroaching the roads, they will be automatically on the lookout for crimes and report them.