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General Overview

EICS Framework


Region of Reference

  • AfricaAfrica
  • AsiaAsia
  • AustraliaAustralia
  • EuropeEurope
  • North-AmericaNorth-America
  • South-AmericaSouth-America
  • WorldWorld


Digital safety audit tools are technology-based solutions that collect data on incidents of sexual harassment or safety audits (where users rate places as safe or unsafe) from transport passengers. This evidence base is geo-tagged, and the maps produced from this data can be used by passengers to make informed decisions related to their journey planning and by authorities to identify problem areas and to tailor intervention approaches [7,8]. It also enables monitoring of the success of interventions over time by doing longitudinal studies. As an additional benefit, the use of mobile apps and text messages effectively allows people to discreetly report incidents of harassment, so that they can more easily do so without fear of retaliation.

Several well-established examples of these tools exist. SafetiPin [2,3,7,8,9] (an app developed in India in 2013) is a map-based mobile phone application that audits a set of nine parameters that together contribute to the perception of safety. The nine parameters include lighting, openness, visibility, crowd, security, walk path, public transport, gender diversity, and feeling of safety. Each audit results in a pin on the specific location where the audit was performed. Every pin is denoted by three different colours depending on the input: red indicates an unsafe location; amber indicates a slightly safer location and green indicates a safe location.

HarassMap [1,5,7,8,9] (a web-based tool developed in Egypt) uses crowdsourcing or collective intelligence to collect information on offences that take place in public spaces, including on or around transport. Via a website, victims and witnesses are encouraged to anonymously document incidents online and the data is then compiled to give the authorities and the public information on hot spots which could be avoided or better patrolled. Additionally, stories are published on social media so there is a better understanding of the types of incidents occurring, and the victims are offered legal, medical, and physiological support.

US-based Hollaback! [6,8,9] is now a worldwide movement to end street harassment, encouraging those who have experienced or witnessed harassment to share their story on the website or via a smartphone app. Users can describe what they experienced or saw; the type of harassment encountered; where the incident occurred and upload these details. These stories are then available for people to read online. This also allows the authorities to see zones where women may be more at risk than others. By documenting, mapping, and sharing incidents of harassment it was found that ‘power’ is shifted to the victim rather than the perpetrator [9].

Safecity [4,5,7] (India) is a not-for-profit foundation. Their website is a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This anonymous data is aggregated into 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 administrations to identify factors that cause behaviour that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions.

HarassTracker [10,11,12] in Lebanon is a website tool used to primarily track and document harassment in Lebanon. The data is used to lobby certain political entities for change.

Types of Impact

Area Impacted

  • To/from the stop/station/rank
  • Waiting for train/bus/paratransit
  • In the vehicle
  • At interchanges
The tools can be used to perform safety audits on any part of the transport system.

Time of Day of Impact

  • Day-time travel
  • Night-time travel
  • Peak-time travel
  • Off peak-time travel
All travel time categories can be positively impacted by this intervention.

Mode Impacted

  • Bus
  • Train
  • Rideshare
  • 4 wheelers informal
  • 3 wheelers informal
  • 2 wheelers informal
  • Cycling
  • Walking
All modes can be impacted by this intervention.

Demographic impacted

  • Girls
  • Boys
  • Adult Women
  • Men
  • Elderly Women
All public transport users can be positively impacted by this intervention.

SWOT Analysis

  • Control is given to the women reporting the incidents as they do not have to go through the police or public authorities to be taken seriously [10]

  • It is easy to disseminate, encourage widespread use, and available to all types of passengers, for all types of trips, any time of the day, and on any mode

  • Anonymity can encourage and allow reporting of incidents that would otherwise go unreported

  • There are limits to what such platforms can do [10]

  • These platforms are not an especially reliable source of data [10]

  • Easy to replicate in more locations

  • Add-on features such as offering tailored assistance based on the incident are enabled

  • There is a risk that women might become tired of engaging with these apps and seeing no action on the ground might make it more difficult to engage them in the future [8]

  • Access to digital services and low levels of digital literacy can reduce the effectiveness of these tools [8]


In general, the tools are deemed to be a successful addition to the fight against sexual harassment. As an example of its effectiveness, Harassmap is credited to have started influencing attitudes in Egypt; since its launch, sexual harassment has been made illegal in Egypt for the first time [5]. Based on this evidence, other tools have been developed with the goal of redefining perceptions of sexual harassment and getting to the point where it can be discussed in the public sphere without shame [12].

  • Perception by (female) passengers
  • Perception by governing bodies
  • Level of confidence in these ratings


Although so initial setup and calibration are required, it can be fairly quick to implement this intervention. Adoption can start immediately and will pick up as more people become aware of the tool. Benefits can ensue as long as the tools are kept operational.

Implementation timeframe

  • 0-1 year
  • 1-3 years
  • >3 years

Timeframe to realise benefits

  • 0-1 year
  • 1-3 years
  • >3 years

Scale of Implementation

This intervention can be implemented at any scale required.

Station or

Ease of Implementation

The tools required have already been developed, therefor implementation can be regarded as easy. There are many examples to draw on and entities to ask for guidance. Should a new tool be developed, however, this will require a host of skills, time, other resources, which will all complicate implementation substantially.

List of References



8. Priya Uteng, T., Allen, H., Turner, J., Cristea, L., Pickup, L. and Curtis, P. (2021) EMPOWER – Practical Tools for Decision Makers and Citizens to Tackle Sexual Harassment in African Urban Transport – Literature Review, Deliverable D1.1, Vectos (South) Ltd.

9. Allen, H and Vanderschuren MJWA, 2016. Safe and Sound: International research on women’s personal safety on public transport, FIA Foundation Research Series, Paper 6, FIA Foundation, London, UK. 4Metropolis, 2018. Safety and Public Space: Mapping Metropolitan Gender Policies, Metropolis, Barcelona, Spain.

10. Singh, M, 2018. Apps Let Women Say #MeToo About Street Harassment, January 11, 2018.

11. http://harasstracker.org/

12. Massena, F, 2016. How a new website is helping Lebanese women avoid sexual harassment, 10 March 2016.