ZeroCrime : An initiative to report and curb crimes

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Many of us come across various crimes in our day to day life. What do we do after coming across the crimes?; most of the times we just ignore it because we don’t want to get involved with police and other govt. organizations.
But, there is a ray of hope now. Three graduates from Delhi College of Engineering have a taken an initiatives called ZeroCrime.ZeroCrime is a platform to share and identify crime. Now you can report crimes without any hassle and that is too without relieving your identity.

Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit-chat with ZeroCrime team. Lets see what they have to share with Techaloo audience.

Techaloo : When did you start your journey?
ZeroCrime : The team ‘Trycon Technologies’ came together in May 2013. All three founders of the company (Mukesh Gupta, Swapnil Jain, and Gautam Garg) are graduates of Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University). We were working on developing online software solutions for businesses when the inception of Zerocrime happened in the first week of October. We immediately decided to invest some time to this from our daily schedule. We began the development and design of Zerocrime, and launched the beta version of the Zerocrime web application on Oct 21, 2013.

Techaloo : Where are you based out of?
ZeroCrime : We are based out of Noida (Delhi NCR). We like to call it the hotbed of criminal activity.

Techaloo : How did Idea come to your mind?
ZeroCrime : It was Mukesh who came up with the idea. (He is the one who comes up with a business idea on a weekly basis). I believe the idea struck him when one of his friend’s smartphone got snatched by two bikers in Noida Sector 63. There was no number plate on the bike. When the friend went to register an FIR, the Noida Police refused to file a case of theft and only agreed to register a case of ‘lost phone’. This happens quite a lot in Noida and the Police are not very helpful. So Mukesh thought why not create an application that lets people file an unofficial crime report and helps caution others about high-risk zones near them. I think all of us have been through such situations where we have felt frustrated becoming a victim of a crime and then even more helpless after experiencing the apathy of law enforcement agencies. The idea resonated well with the team and we immediately decided to invest our time into it.

Techaloo : What was your vision/mission while starting ZeroCrime?
ZeroCrime : All three of have been affected by crime at some point. Swapnil and his family were once robbed at gunpoint in Uttar Pradesh. I think our vision is to ultimately see crime declining in the country. We understand that it’s a long process but we feel Zerocrime is a good start. We hope that through this initiative people, law enforcement agencies, and media houses will be able to see the real picture of the crime that is affecting society and the growth of this nation. We also believe ‘Safety is not an accident’ and through Zerocrime, people can learn to be safe from the experiences of victims and witnesses.

Techaloo : What hurdles did you face while starting?
ZeroCrime : I think it is too early to say that we have started to face any hurdles. But a hurdle that we do see in the near future is creating nationwide awareness about this initiative. Being a start-up, we have limited marketing investment but we are designing innovative ways to reach out to people. I think media houses can play a strong role here and I thank platforms like TechAloo for covering this.

Techaloo : Have you got any kind of funding? Or Are you planning for the same?
ZeroCrime : No we don’t have any external funding as of now and we are investing in this initiative on our own. Like I said, we really believe in this idea and even if we do not get any funding, we are ready to invest on our own. As far as external investment (such as through VC or Angel Investors) is concerned, it is unlikely as we plan to register this initiative as a not-for-profit entity.

Techaloo : How are you planning to bear the cost of website maintenance and other?
ZeroCrime : Currently, we are investing in this initiative ourselves but we understand that it is not a sustainable model. Hence, we are in the process of designing a model where we bring on board companies and organizations that can benefit significantly from this initiative to support us. 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. At the moment, this is the sustainable model that I can think of.

Techaloo : Explain a little more about ZeroCrime and its concept?
ZeroCrime : The essence of Zerocrime is citizens coming together to fight crime by keeping a check not only on criminal activity around them but also on the responsiveness of law enforcement agencies. If you have been a victim or a witness to a crime incident, you can easily file an unofficial report on http://zerocrime.org by providing simple details such as location, time, date, crime, description, and a short advice for others. A marker of your incident will be placed on the map and residents/travelers can see the details. Over time, Zerocrime will aggregate these reports to create a crime rating index of neighborhoods and areas will be color-coded as per their crime rating. Crowd-sourcing is the back-bone of the social initiative. We will also conduct advanced analytics and longitudinal studies to generate meaningful insights for law enforcement agencies and media houses. We also plan to develop crime prevention tools such as prediction of crime through data analysis. Users will be able to benefit directly by downloading the Zerocrime mobile application, which will push location-based safety notifications when users are roaming in high-risk zones.

Techaloo : What is your moderation policy?
ZeroCrime : Currently, we are moderating each report to maintain quality. We typically remove any profanity and names of accused unless verified through media reports. We plan to take other measures as well such as crowd-moderation, automated-moderation using technology, etc.

Techaloo : How do you confirm the authenticity of crime?
ZeroCrime : It is difficult as we do not ask for any personal information of the reporter (except email address) and all reports are filed anonymously. At present, we are validating the genuineness of the reporter through email verification. But 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. Even if there are a few fake entries, the threat will definitely be real and the idea is to bring that forward. We encourage our users to file official reports with the Police so that they can solve individual cases. We plan to bring forward the criminal activity situation in a neighborhood at an aggregate level. If we manage to bring law enforcement agencies on board with us, we can help reporters solve individual cases as well.

Techaloo : How is the response of “beta stage ZeroCrime”?
ZeroCrime : We have been live for about three weeks now and we are happy with the response. Many people have already come forward to help us in our initiative. Companies have offered to provide us with their premium services at no cost. The idea resonates well with everybody and we have received excellent ideas from so many believers. But execution is the key here and we hope we have the support of the people. They have a big role to play.

Techaloo : Are you planning for an app as well?
ZeroCrime : We want this initiative to be as actionable as possible. We plan to develop a mobile application that will act as a safety guide for the user. You will be able to choose crimes that worry you the most (e.g., eve-teasing/molestation in the case of women living in Delhi) and the application will push alerts on your screen based on your location. It can guide you to the nearest police station or send an SOS call/message to your close ones in case of an emergency. You will also be able to report crimes with Zerocrime using your application.

Techaloo : Do you have collaboration with other NGOs and Government agencies?
ZeroCrime : We are definitely planning to do that. We will be able 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.

Techaloo : What are your plans for next 3 years?
ZeroCrime : That’s a difficult question. As mentioned earlier, from the development prospective we have a huge list of features to be added to Zerocrime application. Since the success of Zerocrime also depends on crowd-sourced data, we need to make people aware of the platform and the long term benefits that accompany it. In the next 3 years, we plan to work on these aspects and see some positive results as well.

Techaloo : What do you think about techaloo.com?
ZeroCrime : I think TechAloo is a great platform for students to learn about entrepreneurship and share ideas. The fact that it spans across geographies brings forward unique perspectives and experiences which is essential for start-ups that are planning to go global. TechAloo gives students an insight into an alternate career rarely taken up in India.

Meet the founders :
The Zerocrime initiative has been started by the three graduates from Delhi College of Engineering – Mukesh Gupta, Swapnil Jain, and Gautam Garg. Given below is a short brief about each:
Mukesh Gupta: Exp. of 2.5 years in software development working with Adobe; Engineering graduate from Delhi College of Engineering (2011); Originally from Bhiwadi, Rajasthan

Swapnil Jain: Exp. of 2.5 years of software development working with Adobe and Oracle; Engineering graduate from Delhi College of Engineering (2011); Originally from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

Gautam Garg: Exp. of 3 years working for a strategic business research and consulting firm in India and South Africa; Engineering graduate from Delhi College of Engineering (2010); Originally from Mumbai, Maharashtra

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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

One Comment

  1. Swapnil Jain says:

    Here’s the link in case anyone wants to visit the website : http://www.zerocrime.org

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