News : ‘Panic Button’ App Shakes Up Kenyan Smartphone Users
Nairobi, Kenya, Jan 7, 2017 -- Kenyan smartphone users can now count on their smartphones to come to their rescue should they fall victim to crime with the release of a ‘panic button’ app, designed to send out a distress call with a simple shake of the wrist.
Instead of relying on an often-unreliable emergency services call centre, Usalama (meaning security in Swahili) alerts the authorities when a user shakes the phone three times, continuously depressing the volume rocker, or taps an on-screen emergency icon.
The Google Play app will also notify fellow Usalama members within a 200 metre radius as well as three nominated personal contacts, crucial in a society where the emergency services cannot be relied upon to arrive in time (if at all).
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Designed by computer science student Edwin Inganji the product aims to fill a gap opened up by patchy response rates from the authorities and rampant crime to instill a degree of security amongst members.
Inganji said: "In Nairobi, in Kenya generally, reaching the emergency services when you need them is really difficult – the toll-free line just doesn’t go through. Either you have to take yourself [to the police station or hospital], or have a witness take you. If no-one is around to help you, most of the time you’re screwed."
Kenya’s 999 emergency number was only reinstated in 2013 having been discontinued amidst claims the government lacks the resources to properly manage a service beset by time wasters.
The African country is currently dealing with an al-Shabaab jihadist insurgency, arresting a senior account manager at M&C Saatchi on terror fears.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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