KENYA: A new mobile phone application that enables city residents to report crime faster and efficiently was unveiled in Nairobi, with initial trials indicating that the majority of city residents felt safe walking on the streets.
Known as SafetiPin, the new application that can be downloaded for free on a mobile phone allows city residents to report crimes in progress, potential criminal activity and areas where they feel unsafe, all at the touch of a key. The report is then relayed to relevant city authorities.
The tool is used to collect data to measure a city’s safety status, which can then be used to develop strategies to make cities safer.
A report compiled through the application by the United Nations and the National Crime Research Centre indicates that eight in every 10 Nairobi residents perceive the city as safe. Only two in every 10 residents felt the city was unsafe.
However, the safety of women in the city’s streets at night was rated below average, as was the presence of security officers in the city.
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Speaking at the launch, SafetiPin founder Kalpana Viswanath said although Nairobi residents felt safe, they also felt that more effort was needed to fight crime through mitigation measures such as installation of more street lights.
“If we do not have good street paths; (if we are) not able to access public transport within three to five minutes from wherever we are in the city, and lack of better livelihoods for residents, then we cannot be safe,” said Ms Viswanath.
Parameters used to measure safety include lighting, open spaces, security from the police or private firms, availability of walk paths, ease of accessing public transport and the percentage of women comfortable to walk in the city at night.
National Crime and Research Centre Director Gerald Wandera said Nairobi hosts over 500 private security companies and more private security personnel than the police force.
The report stated that only 56 per cent of the city was well lit, and that Eastleigh and Pipeline estates needed more security.