22-year old Tripti Agarwal and Parth Trehan win the SafeCity Datathon organized by UK’s University of Southampton and IIIT- Bengaluru

Bengaluru: 22-year old Tripti Agarwal and Parth Trehan, who are first year Masters by Research Computer Science students at the International Institute of Information Technology Bengaluru (IIIT-B), have emerged as the winners of the ‘SafeCity Datathon’. Jointly organised by the Social Impact Lab of the UK-based University of Southampton, Red Dot Foundation and IIIT-B, the Challenge was held recently at IIIT-B campus. The aim of this visual data representation challenge was to make data on gender-based crime more accessible. Tripti and Parth’s team won the competition from among 25 teams from IIIT-B.

The winning entry was an outstanding visualization that busted the myth of when sexual violence takes place. It showed that it takes place at all times of the day, including from 12-2pm in the afternoon. Their visual data representation also highlighted the different categories of gender based violence and the geographical spread across India. Another important point presented by the contestants was how many myths about sexual violence are contradicted by the data, especially that it mainly takes place in the home, and only at night. The data shows it happens throughout the day, and in many public spaces.

Renowned computer scientist Prof Dame Wendy Hall inaugurated the competition. Talking about the importance of SafeCity Datathon, Prof Dame Wendy Hall said, “Web technologies should be used to make the world safer for women. The SafeCity Datathon is a tremendous example of using the web for social impact through powerfully visualizing data about such an important and urgent issue”.

This was the first edition of ‘SafeCity Datathon’, whose main organizer was University of Southampton’s Social Impact Lab. In this unique competition, participants were tasked to visualize an all-India dataset of gender-based violence and assault by working together with Red Dot Foundation’s SafeCity platform, which crowd maps data on gender violence. The contestants analysed the data and prepared creative and interesting data visualizations to communicate it to the general public.

The panel of judges for SafeCity Datathon included Elsa D’Silva (CEO-Red Dot Foundation), Professor Bidisha Chaudari from IIIT-B and Dr Pathik Pathak (Director of the Social Impact Lab, University of Southampton), among others. The winners received certificates and Amazon gift vouchers.

Talking about the need of this competition, Dr. Pathik Pathak said, “We need good quality data on gender based violence to understand the issue, and make informed policy decisions on how to make Indian public spaces better. By connecting challenges like data visualization with talented and motivated students, working in web science, we can not only provide opportunities for students to apply their computing expertise to social problems, but help to enhance public understanding of these issues too.”

Elsa D’Silva also shared her concerns on gender-based crimes in India and said, “If we want to find solutions for women’s safety, we need a multidisciplinary approach in policy making and in developing solutions. Having students from the web science discipline work on a social problem is critical because it gives them a deeper understanding on the unconscious bias that governs our lives. Intelligent people, by using a gender lens, can develop solutions that can definitely work”.

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