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Suraksha what?City women ignore police app

Poor response to women’s safety app leaves police disappointed.City women say they are happy the app exists but are not sure how it operates, and if it will guarantee their safety

Published: 15th January 2018 10:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2018 07:14 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Bengaluru City Police had launched the Suraksha app, for the protection of women in distress, with much fanfare last April. In a day, it saw 5,000 downloads. But nine months later, the picture looks dismal — only 79,347 smartphone users have downloaded it so far. Police sources say that they were expecting to see 10 lakh downloads.

According to police officials, 2,910 people raised an alert through the app but most were done to test the application. “Very few cases were genuine,” says an official.When City Express asked a few women why they had not tried or used the app as yet, many said that they have heard about the app but were unsure about how it works. But DCP (command centre) Nagendra Kumar says that they regularly promote the app through their social-media accounts, which have more than 10 million followers. “We have also handed over pamphlets near schools, garment factories, companies and other places,” he says.

Sujatha, an activist, says,  “Yes, I have heard about it but haven’t downloaded it yet. I am not sure if the storage space on my phone would suffice.” Kavitha S, a tutor and a homemaker, says that she does not have the app on the phone because she thinks it is more useful to young people who have to work late into the night.Anuvarta Binnitee Chettri was present at the launch event of the app, along with the other interns from St John’s Hospital,  but says that she never got around to getting it on her phone because “it is not talked about enough to be reminded of it”.

Few women rely on other apps. “I always feel unsafe when I step out, but I use Life360,” says homemaker Dhanya. “I am not familiar with Suraksha app, but I am more comfortable with Life360 because it has an option to alert two close contacts (I have given details of my husband and my brother). I am more confident of getting help from them in case of emergency, than I am of help from the police... also I have noticed that if ever I am logged out of the app, they call to check I am ok”. Her friend Manjula rarely feels unsafe on the city roads but,  on the rare occasions that she does, she uses the share-ride-details option on her cab-aggregator app. “I use this only for long trips, like a late night trip from the airport”.

Though Manjula feels safe in the city, statistics paint a different picture. Bengaluru ranked 19 among Indian cities for number of crimes against women, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, released in 2016. The crimes recorded include kidnapping and assault (physical and sexual).
Few women say that they find ‘Dial 100’ a safer bet, than the app. “I have heard about the app but haven’t yet downloaded it,” says software engineer Reema who has has been living in the city for the last three years. She adds, “‘100’ seems more useful because I am not sure of the app’s features.”

But police officials beg to differ with Reema. “In Dial-100, you have to share the incident details with the call-centre staff, like the location details. But, with the app, the location will be tracked through GPS system. This reduces the  reaction time by three to four minutes, when compared to the dial-in complaints. It is linked to the police control room and patrolling vehicles,” says an official, adding that the app isavailable both in IoS and android platforms.The police sources agree that promotion of the application has not been streamlined. Involving citizens in promoting the application would have served better, they say.   

How Suraksha app works

Send an alert by opening the app and pressing the red button or press the power button of the mobile five times.
Command centre receives the Suraksha alert from the registered mobile and tracks the victim location. Also, a 10 second audio and video of the victim location can be received at the control room.
Simultaneously emergency alert message is flashed to registered emergency contacts.
Live vehicle tracking system activates the nearest Hoysala and the jurisdictional police station is also alerted.
Nearest Hoysala arrives at the scene of emergency and intervenes. Updates action taken to the command centre.

Dial 100 a hit

The police says that in case of dial 100- police helpline, it has received a very good response from the public over past 6 months. According to the data between June 10, 2017andJanuary 10, 2018, 13,09,546 people have dialed 100. All may not be actionable call but definitely there is awareness. There were 81,0726 blank calls, 1,55,403 actionable calls, 1,29,119 missed calls and 1,47,519 enquiry calls. The sources said that most actionable of the calls made were to inform police about incidents, seeking information and to for registering complaints about nuisances created by miscreants in their vicinity. Dial-100 received a good response because of its Mantra-Attend call in 15 second and Hoysala has to reach the spot within 15 minutes.

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