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Disconnected Infrastructures and Violence Against Women: Innovating Digital Technologies in Low-Income Neighbourhoods to Produce Safer Indian Cities

Disconnected Infrastructures and Violence Against Women (VAW): Innovating Digital Technologies in Low-Income Neighbourhoods to Produce Safer Indian Cities

Principal Investigator: Dr Ayona Datta, King's College London

Co-Investigators: Dr Don Slater, London School of Economics; Dr Joanne Entwistle, King's College London; Dr Rakhi Tripathi, Fore School of Management, Delhi

Disconnected Infrastructures is now four months into its programme. Much of this time has been occupied in setting up the project team (research and administrative assistance, risk and ethics approval, organizing work with partners) and conducting regular meetings and communications across the team internationally via Skype, Slack and Whatsapp. We have now set up the project website which is being regularly updated with news of project activities and workshop reports. We are also hosting short blogs from project team and workshop participants on the project theme. The link is https://disconnectedinfrastructures.wordpress.com
The website is linked to an active social media engagement through the Twitter handle @Infrastruct_VAW that has already garnered 265 followers in 2 months.

In November 2017 we held an inception workshop with partners, advisory board and experts on infrastructure, data and VAW where we presented our project aims and received expert feedback. In December 2017 we held our first face to face project team meeting with all members of the team present in Delhi, which helped us forward plan the fieldwork, analysis and dissemination activities.

In terms of fieldwork we have completed our first work package on software ethnography. This was a 'software ethnography' of the app and data system developed by our partner, Safetipin. Safetipin's system is designed to carry out and process urban safety audits that measure and represent a number of urban features that impact feelings of safety in public spaces. The software ethnography allowed both unusually deep reflexive understanding of the data deployed in the project, and a case study of 'smart' urban data approaches to infrastructure; finally, matching Safetipin data to community-level fieldwork with women's understandings of risk and safety will allow us to contribute to developing Saftepin's safety audit methodology in general. 

Our next stage of analysis has now commenced with the data analytics of the Safetipin software itself, led by our Indian CoI. This is desk-based analysis investigating the backend of the software for user behaviour and source of traffic and compare it with the technical issues such as loading time, real time uploading disconnections from network if any. Preliminary results from this will be reported in our stakeholder workshop in Trivandrum in April 2018 (see below).

Our mid-project workshop has now been planned in February to take advantage of the BA inception event when our societal partners will be visiting the UK. Following the successful format of the project inception workshop, we have invited our advisory board and several other relevant experts to participate. Our societal partners Safetipin and Sakhi will also be present, and we are expecting to report on the preliminary findings of oftware ethnography.

Our second phase of in-depth fieldwork is about to start in February 2018. Our post-doc Nabeela Ahmed will also be travelling to Kerala for an extended period to support and oversee the data collection which is being done with the support of our local partner there. this fieldwork will involved interviews and participatory walkabouts with women in low-income settlements in Trivandrum and Kochi. 

In the meantime, we have engaged in a few outreach activities. On Monday 4 December 2017, our project PI Ayona Datta was invited to the #SafetoSpeakOut panel on VAW organised by Oxfam. Speakers in this panel included Hera Hussain who founded Chayn in Pakistan and Ana Brandusescu, who is Policy Officer at the Worldwide Web Foundation. This event linked up with a co-creation event Oxfam are holding in Lebanon, devising digital solutions to tackle real world problems in the fight against violence against women. Ayona referred to the British Academy GCRF on Disconnected Infrastructures and Violence Against Women.
In November CoI Slater presented preliminary thoughts from the project to the AGM of the LUCI network (Lighting Urban Communities International, a network of lighting professionals in 73 cities, plus lighting designers and planners). This presentation was part of a conference theme on smart lighting and smart cities, in which we able to raise issues of how gender based violence can be more central to implementing smart city strategies.

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