Applying Geospatial technology for women safety and crime mapping in India

Applying Geospatial technology for women safety and crime mapping in India


GIS aids crime analysis by:

  • Identifying and highlighting suspicious incidents and events that may require further investigation;
  • Supporting pattern and trend analysis across multiple jurisdictions;
  • Enhancing the implementation of various policing methodologies to reduce overall crime and disorder;
  • Integrating traditional and nontraditional law enforcement data to improve overall analysis;
  • Educating the public with visual information to clarify crime concerns and enlist community action;
  • Providing tools and techniques to capture crime series and forecast future crime occurrences.

Layers of information in GIS crime mappingsystemWhether the problem is tactical, strategic, or administrative, any data containing location information can be displayed and analysed using geographic information system (GIS) technology. GIS is an essential part of a crime analyst’s (Police, Law Enforcement officers etc.) toolkit – means of creating valuable information for the concerned officers (on-duty) in the field. By incorporating traditional law enforcement data with data such as demographics, infrastructure, and offender tracking, user can use GIS to transform information into actionable intelligence. GIS will also help to improve critical decision making in a rapidly changing environment and have a direct impact on the safety of the on-duty officers and the citizens they are serving for. Every crime problem is related to some location, whether it’s an address, street, ZIP Code, or district. GIS can help user to leverage the locational aspect of the data to analyse, understand, and build solutions to the problems user foreseen.

Violence against women in India:

The Semantic meaning of ‘Crime against Women’ is direct or indirect physical or, mental cruelty to women. Crimes which are directed specifically against women and in which only women are victims are characterised as crime against women. It is equally important to clarify the concept of ‘Violence against Women’. Violence is also known as abuse and includes any sort of physical aggression or, misbehaves. When violence is committed at home it becomes domestic violence and involves family members such as children, spouse, parents or servants. Domestic violence may involve different means such as hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, and throwing objects. In broad terms, it includes threats, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, controlling or domineering, intimidation, stalking, passive/covert abuse and economic deprivation, rape, abduction, kidnapping, murder (all cases of criminal violence, dowry death, wife battering, sexual abuse, maltreatment of a widow and for an elderly women (all cases of domestic violence) and eve-teasing, forcing wife/daughter-in-law to go for feticide, forcing a young widow to commit sati, etc (all cases of social violence), are issues which affect a large section of society. The United Nations (UN) defined ‘Violence against Women’ in 1993 in declaration on the ‘Elimination of Violence against Women’. It defines it as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.

Rape (Section 376 IPC) (incidence 24,206, Rate: 2.0) cases is a major concern in India, even in Urban sprawl too:

An increasing trend in cases of rape has been observed during 2007-08. A mixed trend in the incidence of rape has been observed during the periods 2008-11. These cases have reported an increase of 3.5% in the year 2008 over the year 2007, a decline of 0.3% in the year 2009 over 2008 and an increase of 3.6% in the year 2010 over 2009 and further an increase of 9.2% in the year 2011 over the year 2010. Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of Rape cases (3,406) accounting for 14.1% of total such cases reported in the country. Mizoram has reported the highest crime rate 7.1 as compared to National average of 2.09. Few of the recent-past cases in the metropolitan cities such as, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore (2012-14) are the eye-opener, and major embarrassment for Govt. as one of the developing counties in the world, leading towards super-power.

Numer of rape cases reported in India Crime against women percent distribution during 2011

Even, the Justice Verma Committee report has already highlighted the requirement of Police Reforms, Role of the Judiciary, Review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and Political Reforms in the country.

However, only legislation and law enforcement agencies can’t prevent the incident of crime against women. There is need of social awakening through innovative application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and change in the attitude of masses, so that due respect and equal status is given to women. It’s a time when the women need to be given her due. This awakening can be brought through ICT based Mobile Apps at finger-tips for increase-in women safety, and by education campaign among youth making them aware of existing social evils and the means to eradicate same. Mass media can play an active role here as in the present days it has reached every corner of the nation. Various Think-Tanks (such as TERI), NGOs can hold a responsible position here by assigning them with the task of highlighting socio-economic causes leading to such crimes and by disseminating information about their catastrophic effect on the womanhood and the society at large.

Why GIS?

A geographic information system (GIS) put together hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. GIS benefits organisations of all sizes and in almost every industry. There is a growing awareness of the economic and strategic value of GIS. The benefits of GIS generally fall into five basic categories:

  • Cost Savings, and Increased Efficiency;
  • Better Decision Making;
  • Improved Communication;
  • Better Record-Keeping;
  • Managing Geographically.

GeoWebGIS integrates information and communications technologies (ICTs), and for the GIS users, the Geo-Web allows extensive sharing of maps and data and opens up access to GIS applications to everyone. This, together with the growing availability of georeferenced content and the ability to easily search, discover, and mash up these services, will enable a whole new pattern and architecture for GIS. This pattern emphasises open and interoperable services that can be used to support a broad array of geographically related applications. The Web 2.0 world currently recognises user-generated content (UGC) as a concept that promotes greatly expanded interaction on the Web.

Role of GIS in Women Safety and Crime Mapping:

GIS, while leveraging the existing ICT infrastructures such as, telecom network, mapping services, location based services etc. could be benefitted to the every citizen of this country in following ways:

  • General information about the law enforcement services for an area based upon the user entering a specific address;
  • Providing crime information about a specific area based upon criteria defined by the user, along-with the country-wide crime statistics and information;
  • Increase safety measures using an interactive user-driven website, mobile apps etc. would allow citizen, especially the women as well as the law enforcement department to be more informed about crime in a particular area. It would also allow the public to be more aware about what is being done to address crime and other issues;
  • Generate mass awareness through an interactive user-driven website etc. could spark public support and activity to resolve issues or, problems;
  • Improve efficiency of the entire law enforcement department(s) at national level.

Mobile based interactive mapping application:

The main objective of this innovation is to develop a client-server architecture, which would be easily accessible through a portable device(s), and communicate between authorized users (public, especially the women) and Master-Control segments (police, law enforcement authorities etc.) through a two-way communication protocol in the corresponding location/region. The proposed mobile apps enabled with global positioning system (GPS) will be integrated with locational intelligence i.e., using any existing map-based services (such as, Google Maps, Microsoft Bing Maps, or, Nokia Here Maps) through which location of that particular user can be traced. Alternatively, through an interactive voice response (IVR) service the complaints can be logged in any adverse situation. Simultaneously, at the master-control segment, associated with a GIS based centralised server will communicate with the computer-aided dispatchers (CADs) or, rescue crews (police, armed forces etc.) equipped with on-board GPS enabled navigation systems which will help to identify the proper location of crime (from where the complaint has been logged) on a map. Also, real-time positioning for each of those rescue operations, services offered through-out the day etc. will be tracked on a GIS map remotely through a centralised location to improve the work-force management via data-analytics and intelligence, for enhancing women safety and security more efficiently and effectively on-time. Simultaneously, using “geo-fencing” service the detailed information such as, nearest police stations, check-post etc. will be shared with those registered users within the specified radar.


Sr. No.


Proposed Solution(s)


Available Technologies and Economic Viability

  • GIS Mapping: Existing point-of-interest (POI) based services will be used, such as Google Maps, Microsoft Bing Maps, and Nokia Here Maps etc.
  • Location-base Services: Nowadays, most of the mobile phones are enabled with GPS; even vehicle navigation/tracking system is already in-place.
  • Communication Technologies: Existing telecom network services can be leveraged-out, wherever required.
  • Information Technologies: Both open-source or, proprietary based client-server applications available worldwide. Also, the proposed application can be deployed into any portable devices/smart-phones, such as Android, BlackBerry, and Windows platform. Benefits of cloud-computing can be opted here.

Most of the required platform/technologies are available as on today, however there is requirement to understand the needs and integrate those platforms seamlessly.

Drawback(s): Use of third-party maps, mobile network etc.


Acceptance at National Level

In a democratic country, the tracking/following a woman will be an offence, if someone is using the application for his/her personal interest.


Reforms in Law Enforcement

Huge changes would be envisaged in each level, including Police, Armed Forces, and Bureaucrats etc. and relevant institutional framework needs to be developed.


Authorised/Registered Users

The proposed application should be accessible by the registered users only, applied through detailed application form and upon submission of valid photo-identity such as, Aadhaar Card (UIDAI), Voter ID, and Passport etc.

Drawback(s): Prevent the misuse of this mobile application/service, and take necessary legal steps against the person.


Loss of Mobile/Cell Phone

Alternative option (such as, portable HMI device) needs to be find-out, in-case of emergency.


Ownership of the Application

Centralised top-down approach needs to be framed to maintain the crucial data-base(s), extremely confidential and prevent unethical usage.


Leveraging the proposed Mobile Application

Using local-search options such as, Google Maps API, Just Dial services nearest hospitals, other landmarks (POIs) can be identified upon user interest.


Other Issues

Who will bear the cost, whether it will be a paid application or, open to all etc.