Corporate News

App developer chooses to shout against road carnage

An accident scene: The new app allows reporting of reckless driving and police officers taking bribes, among other services aimed at reducing the number of road crashes. Photo/File
An accident scene: The new app allows reporting of reckless driving and police officers taking bribes, among other services aimed at reducing the number of road crashes. Photo/File 

You can now shout against road accidents that are increasing by the day, thanks to technology.

The bulk of the crashes that have left families in pain, maimed so many, and led to loss of key talent, has been blamed on human error— and they are a voidable.

A software developer Thomas Kioko is one of the people doing something about the tragedy and the accompanying losses.

Mr Kioko has come up with an application that helps users to reduce the chances of accidents that arise from human error.

Nduru,’ the Kiswahili word for “scream” allows users to report accidents and situations that are likely to cause a crash.

People carrying enabled gadgets can download the app and report unroadworthy vehicles, traffic police officers taking bribes and reckless drivers.

It is also possible to have an interactive tutorial on providing first aid at the scene of a crash.

The app is primarily an information tool and once installed, users have at their disposal a portal with information like emergency numbers, blackspots and the hospitals near an accident scene.

“It occurred to us that emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines have their hotlines indicated on the vehicle but few users take notice of this,” Mr Kioko, says.

“Once the user downloads the app, he will have a map with an updated index of the health facilities around the area they are travelling in and the hospitals that are closest to their location,” he says.

The selling point of the app, however, is the fact that it can be used to not only manage accident emergencies but also prevent the occurrence of crashes.

“If the user witnesses a traffic violation that could lead to an accident, he can file a complaint immediately and the same can be received by traffic police in real time,” he says.

“If for example you witness a car that’s driven carelessly, you can log onto the app where you can fill in details like the number plate of the car, the route and a brief description of the violation.”

This is, however, limited to public service and government vehicles which are simpler to map and track compared to private vehicles.

In addition, the application helps motorists to act as whistle blowers to fight corruption on the roads, which often leads to traffic violators walking away scot-free even when they commit serious traffic offences.

The application also allows users to report motorists who have given a bribe to evade punishment for a traffic offence. Users can also file complaints about damaged roads that need repair.

“Sometimes the government may not be aware of a particular road in a faraway corner of the country that needs repair. Users can log in, select their respective constituency and report the particular road that needs repair,” Mr Kioko says.

Matatus and buses that have tampered with their speed governors also have their days numbered. The application allows users to turn their smart phones into pocket speed governors on any public vehicle they board.

Using a speed sensor functionality, ‘Nduru’ allows users to enter a given speed limit, for example 80kph. If the vehicle they are travelling in exceeds that speed while the tool is on, it will vibrate and prompt the user to file a complaint.

The app was entered in the recent Ericsson Applications Awards where it emerged the second best in East Africa and third globally in the student category.

“We did a pilot study with about 50 users who said they liked the application and they are willing and ready to use it,” says Mr Kioko of his invention.

“I intend to develop the application on the Nokia S40 platform and have an SMS version as well to ensure that it is available to the majority of mobile phone users in the country."

The application is soon to be released on the Android platform after successful testing and the developer is looking to pitch a partnership with the traffic police division to have the app share its data with the police.

“The flow of data can be channelled to the police headquarters website where the police can take action on the reported offenders and avert a future road accident,” explains Mr Kioko.

In addition, Mr Kioko is at an advanced stage of developing another app targeted towards traffic police officers to help them collect data that road users file through the Nduru application.

Once installed on the mobile device, the app dubbed Ofissa will enable the police to link up with Nduru to obtain reports on traffic violations within their operating area.

This can cut down the time it takes to file an incident report to the police and increase the response time in the process saving lives and responding to emergencies.

This latest initiative to combat road carnage using technology is just one of the several drives that have been introduced over the last few weeks.

Stiffer penalties

Last week, the Cabinet approved amendments to the Traffic Act that provides stiff penalties for reckless drivers and other traffic offenders.

The amendment Bill, which is before Parliament, proposes severe penalties for motorists who cause deaths through reckless driving or those caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

Under the proposed amendments, fines for those found guilty of reckless driving will increase tenfold to Sh100,000 or a two-year jail term or both.

Second time offenders will face tougher punishments with a proposed payment of a Sh300,000 fine or a suspension of the driving licence for two years.