In the last 16 months, Safecity has collected 2,800 reports of street harassment in India on its crowdsourced map. Street harassment could be anything from catcalls to indecent exposure to rape or sexual assault.
It’s part of the nonprofit’s mission to encourage women to anonymously report street harassment, in order to “to get them to break their silence so others come forward,” as cofounder Elsa D’Silva puts it, but also to collect data on these occurrences.
“Perpetrators find their comfort zones in locations or attitudes,” D’Silva said, so it’s important to analyze data from these reports (for example, is there a broken streetlight near a highly-reported spot?) and see how the trends can be turned around.
Originally from India, Silva, 40, has spent the past two months in Philadelphia, participating in FastFWD, the public-private social entrepreneurship accelerator focused on public safety. One of her cofounders, Saloni Malhotra, 32, recently joined her in Philly. Safecity is one of 10 companies that are participating in the accelerator, funded by a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies grant.
It was the public safety focus that got Safecity interested in FastFWD, the cofounders said. Before joining FastFWD, they had been running the company for a year and had just made the decision to pursue it full-time. They said the FastFWD program has helped them figure out a long-term plan for scaling the business, which they plan to fund with grants and corporate sponsors.
Every FastFWD company has a chance to to pilot its tool with the City of Philadelphia. So when the accelerator ends next month, will Safecity remain in the city?
The cofounders said they’d like to, but it depends on if they can find a local partner to help them launch here. They’re in talks with Hollaback Philly, an anti-street harassment group that similarly crowdsources instances of street harassment. As it stands, they plan to return to India next month when the program ends.