With crime rates high and no efficient emergency number available, an app developed by a student aims to make people in Kenya feel safer
Kenyan university student Edwin Inganji was happily pursuing his passion – computer science – until he lost his laptop in an armed robbery. Beaten and bruised, and wondering how he could call for help since his mobile phone had also been stolen, Inganji came up with a new coding idea: what about a type of “panic button” app that could be activated quickly and silently, alerting the emergency services of your location and directing them straight to you?
Thus was born “Usalama” (Swahili for security), a smartphone app activated simply by shaking one’s phone three times, holding down the volume button, or tapping on the emergency icon. The app alerts the police, medical or fire authorities – as well as every other Usalama user within 200m – broadening the scope of help available to the person in need.
The app requires the user to input three personal contacts – such as a spouse, parent or work colleague – who are notified alongside the services of any emergency situation, and are given updates every five minutes until the situation is resolved. In this way, the user’s contacts can also ensure services are accountable, says Inganji.
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Image credits: Edwin Inganji with co-founders Marvin Makau and Kenneth Gachukia. Photograph: Brett Eloff/The Royal Academy of Engineering.
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