The app works well especially during emergencies since one only needs to power on their phone, tap the screen and a panic button will appear
In Kenya the rate of insecurity is making many people so fret that President Uhuru Kenyatta introduced an initiative dubbed “Nyumba Kumi” as a way of bringing 10 neighbouring homesteads together.
After they heard the President’s idea, a group known as Kejaroo decided to take this initiative even further by developing an android mobile application called Ujirani which connects you to your neighbors as well as to emergency services providers at the tap of your phone.
“One day my neighbor was attacked by thieves and since she didn’t have our phone numbers she called her brother who was 20 kilometers away and before he arrived it was too late. We learnt that she was attacked the following morning and this made me realize there was a gap which needed to be filled,” said one the brains behind the innovation.
The innovators Cynthia Onyango (18) and Muaad Abdurrahman (24) said that the app is accessed through free download from android play store.
Cynthia, who is the director at a company dealing with software development, the idea was born when they once entered into competition known as Akirachix women competition which was sponsored by Microsoft. The competition was rewarding the best innovation which would be used to solve community problem.
“As I was doing research I realised that most people who live in the same area have difficulties accessing security services since most of them don’t know one another and in case of emergency one could not be helped,” she said. She then decided to try something which could solve the insecurity issues and realised that with a mobile application most people will be able to get connected to their neighbour since most people have mobile phones nowadays.
They were the winning group and they received a total amount of Sh20,000 which they used as initial capital for their pilot project.
“We decided to do the pilot project without charging people and we realised that the app was working well and it was of great help to Kenyans. Though most people living in slums are yet to embrace the idea we have been able to have 150 users and we are planning to launch the product commercially,” he said.
They have also won the Safaricom Appwiz Challenge 2014 on Mobile Development for Community Good and scooped Sh200,000. “The app doesn’t have a limit on how many people should be registered and it is so fast that if you raise alarm your neighbours and service providers will be alerted immediately,” she said.
According to Onyango, one only needs to be invited by his or her friends to the group and they will be ready for registration. Once you are registered your group can choose the service providers they would like to work with; for example ambulances, fire fighting service providers and security firms.
Apart from panic button there is also a report incident button and when pressed, one is able to make a free call to their service providers. “Even if one cannot access the app during an emergency you only need to switch on the phone and tap the screen and the panic button will appear automatically and it will even show your location,” she said.
Currently they are not charging anything since the project is still at pilot stage but they will start charging the service providers who will be registered. “We are currently incubated at Nailab for a start up accelerator program for the next six months and we hope after this training we will have something unique,” she said.