Let’s say you are relocating to a new city and you don’t have any friends or family there. You want to look for a house in a safe neighbourhood. How would you judge the safety levels of a locality? Zerocrime.org can come to your rescue in such situations. Zerocrime, an initiative by three youngsters Mukesh Gupta, Swapnil Jain, and Gautam Garg, aims to map criminal activity across Indian cities and towns.
The purpose of Zerocrime is to bring citizens together in fighting crime by keeping a check not only on criminal activity around them but also on the responsiveness of law enforcement agencies. The initiative currently operates through the web application that collects crime data through crowd-sourcing and enables users to view criminal activity around them. The idea is to create a common platform which citizens and travellers can use to exercise caution and to keep safe.
I See India had a chat with Gautam Garg to know more about this initiative.
The story behind inception of Zerocrime
It was Mukesh who came up with the idea. The idea struck him when one of his friend’s smartphone was snatched by two bikers in Noida. There was no number plate on the bike. When his friend went to register an FIR, the Noida Police refused to file a case of theft and agreed only to register a case of ‘lost phone’. So Mukesh thought of creating an application that lets people file an unofficial crime report and helps caution others about high-risk zones near them.
All three of us are graduates of Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University). When Mukesh told us his idea, we could easily relate to it since we all have been through such situations where after being victims of crime we have had to face the apathy of law enforcement agencies, leaving us even more helpless. Thus, the idea resonated well with the team and we immediately decided to invest our time into it. We began the development and design of Zerocrime, and within 2 weeks launched the beta version of the Zerocrime web application on Oct 21, 2013.
Verification of crimes posted in Zerocrime
Verification is difficult as a reporter is not asked for any personal information of the reporter (except email address) and all reports are filed anonymously. The idea is not to focus on individual reports. An area will be tagged high-risk only when sufficient numbers of cases of a particular crime are filed on the platform. We plan to bring forward the criminal activity situation in a neighbourhood at an aggregate level. Even if there are a few fake entries, the threat will definitely be real and the idea is to bring that forward. Users are encouraged to file official reports with the Police so that they can solve individual cases.
Zerocrime also intends to get law enforcement agencies on board so that users can be helped in solving individual cases as well. We intend to provide advanced analytics to NGOs that are fighting against crime (such as discrimination against women) as well as to Government agencies (such as Police and the Home Ministry) to ensure that our efforts convert into action.
The crime reports are presently moderated to remove profanity and defamatory accusations unless verified through media reports. Other measures such as crowd-moderation, automated-moderation using technology will be implemented in the future.
Funding and Sustainability
Currently, the initiative is self-funded. However, we are also evaluating the option of crowd-funding.
Although it is a non-profit venture, we are designing a model which is sustainable in the long term. We are thinking of a model where we could rope in companies and organizations that can benefit significantly from this initiative. We feel many companies are quite concerned about the safety of their employees and would be interested in our application. Media houses can get advanced analytics from us for creating meaningful reports. In short, while the web and mobile applications will completely be free for the general public and government agencies, we might create a subscription model for companies interested in this data for commercial purposes. The revenues generated will be used to cover maintenance costs and excesses will be pumped back into the initiative for innovation.
Gautam has an exp. of 3 years working for a strategic business research and consulting firm in India and South Africa. He is a 2010 engineering graduate from Delhi College of Engineering. Mukesh and Swapnil belong to the 2011 batch of the same college. They have 2.5 years of experience in software development working in top notch IT firms.