The pall of COVID-19 hangs over the world like a never-ending storm that arrived without warning and is now holding the globe to ransom. While its health implications are undeniable and apparent, its economic fallout is crippling to say the least. Enterprises have fallen by the way side, scaling back is the new normal, and businesses downing shutters is no rarity.
As the world readjusts to a new reality, teetering economies kept barely alive by stimulus packages are trying to chart a way forward.
The challenges are manifold, and at stake are not just businesses, but lives and livelihoods of millions. In this scenario then, expectedly, we must tread forth with care.
What ‘Safety’ Really Includes And Means
In a new cautious environment, many parameters will become important to gauge the investing prospects of an area. One of the primary factors that will come into play much more than ever before will be safety. The umbrella term of safety can and does include several parameters like workplace safety, physical safety –– and the current highly-communicable virus has made us look at health as a safety concern too.
However, in the long term, the category of safety, that will have maximum impact on economies as a whole, is physical safety –– especially of vulnerable groups.
Although it is an intuitive fact that safe movement and access to safe spaces is directly proportional to increased economic activity of all kinds, it is now increasingly supported by statistics. A study by UN Women has estimated that the cost of violence against women each year is around USD 1.5 trillion –– that’s an estimated 2 percent of the global GDP. In India specifically, according to a 2018 report by the McKinsey Global Institute, the country could add up to USD 770 billion — more than 18 percent — to its GDP by 2025, simply by giving equal opportunities (which includes access to safe environments) to women.
How Does One ‘Measure’ Safety?
It is clear that the figures above are not to be trifled with – especially as severely crippled economies try to hobble back to normalcy. Every single measure must be taken to see that more people are able to participate in the economy so as to create an atmosphere of security and confidence. And there would be no length too long to go, to create safer environments to help the smooth participation of a work force.
In this context –– and from the prisms of the entrepreneur and the investors –– having information about safety could become pivotal, going forward.
And while safety information with respect to the workplace and health is easily accessible (as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic), it gets trickier when we speak of measuring physical safety, especially with regard to vulnerable groups.
This is due to the fact that physical safety is based largely on perception. Added to that is the fact that it is both personal and dynamic.
The question then that presents itself is: how would one measure something so varied, personal and dynamic?
The ‘Individual’ Aspect Of Safety
A good and robust response to this question lies in the place where personal expression, variation and dynamic expression are all possible –– individual ratings. As each person expresses their perception and reason for feeling safe or unsafe –– a very real time map of safety will become the guiding blueprint not just for individuals, but also for governments, law enforcement agencies, corporations and entrepreneurs.
It is therefore, with some optimism, that one can look forward to not just creating a safer world, but also for economies and businesses to profit from it –– a way to create safe economies.
(Madhureeta Anand is an entrepreneur, filmmaker and activist. She is the CEO and Founder of Phree For Safety LLP. The company has launched Phree – a safety app –that makes spaces safer by harnessing user safety ratings. It is the only app of its kind in the world. Phree provides a pre-emptive safety environment for vulnerable groups. Further details on Phree.co. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)