Black Innovation: A Look Into How These Kenyan Innovators Created Panic Button App To Help In Distress

by Duke Magazine

Edwin Inganji and five of his friends have collaborated to develop a mobile panic app that provides users in high-crime areas with a distress call function.

Usalama is an app that, with a few shakes of the phone, notifies law enforcement and nearby app users of dangerous situations.

This invention was created to solve Kenya’s non-functioning 999 system.

Edwin Inganji laments, “When you dial 999, no one receives your call.” People simply accept this, but it’s unacceptable.

In late 2014, armed robbers attacked the 22-year-old Kenyan on his way home from school in Nairobi.

“We intend for an SMS to be sent if someone triggers a distress signal without the app or a smartphone,” he says.

The app has been designed so that when a user feels threatened, they can open it by shaking their phone three times. They can press either the emergency button or the volume button. The phone alerts all Usalama users within a 650-foot radius and quickly contacts the local police and fire departments.

The police are anticipated to be nearby or a sufficient number of app users will band together to repel the attackers.

Sanji and his team are developing a feature that will allow users to locate one another when they don’t want to walk alone, and they will be able to set a timer that will sound an alarm if they arrive home on time. The app also allows users to cancel alerts by pressing the “Recant” button.

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