How a robbery attack led Edwin Iganji to create a security app for Kenyans

Edwin Inganji is a promising programmer who loves developing Android applications. This outstanding interest and passion for technology and IT is providing solutions to problems that face the African people. The Usalama application was developed alongside three of his friends, Marvin Makau, Kenneth Gachukia, and James Chege.

The mobile app developed by Edwin – Usalama – offers a distress-call function to users in areas where crime rates are high. The goal of the app is to link its users to urgent emergency services as quickly and easily as possible, The app will quickly transfer your distress call to the nearest emergency providers, or the nearest ambulance unit. There are also special abilities for Usalama users to receive your cry for help within a 200-meter radius. To achieve this, the user can either long-press volume down or shake the phone to open the app and tap on the icon describing their emergency on the home screen of the app.

A feature that helps keep Usalama users safe is the security news platform. This is more like an open platform where users can propagate security news with other users. This is one of the most unique features as it only sends the news to users within its surrounding. Therefore, there is an assurance that you’ll get relevant and timely updates on news. There is also another feature called the Usalama timer. This is meant to inform your family in case you don’t come home based on the time set, and walk-with-me, the feature which allows you to virtually walk with your friends and notify them when they enter notorious hotspots or dangerous road black spots.

 

HOW USALAMA STARTED?

Usalama was a project Edwin developed with his friends while he was in his second year of university study.  They had wanted to take part in the annual Safaricom Appwiz challenge. Thus, they started brainstorming for ideas. The initial plan was to come up with an innovation that can impact society by solving the most crucial issues. They began drawing from personal life experiences; the challenges that were faced by friends, families, and fellow students living in congested urban centers.

At that point, they all started giving distinct versions of their personal stories and experiences. Edwin’s tale was a mugging he encountered in his first year where his laptop was violently stolen. That flashback led him to the creation of the Usalama app. He was left with a string of thoughts and possibilities thinking what if they had shot him. A few days later after the incident, a colleague of Edwin was shot three consecutive times while he was fleeing from the muggers. Though he was lucky enough to survive, Edwin was worried that he could have died.

This was a concern as crime rates in Nairobi and other third-world cities are very high. Every day, Kenyans are left in a state of uncertainty and predicament due to the high crime rates in the country. The physical and psychological scars are everlasting on the victim. These were all considerations by Edwin and his team which led them to Usalama.

Their goal is to be the “Uber” of emergency services ranging from medical emergencies, crime, road rescue services, and gender violence.

 

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