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An app that tells neighbours you’re in trouble



ROMA – WHEN you are in trouble, or you see someone in trouble, you pull up this app.

Let’s say someone is stealing your car.

You just press “car theft” button on the app. Then it rings all phones that are several metres away from your phone that have this app.

The only thing they see on their phones is your name and that your car is being stolen.

In no time, it is now the thief in trouble.

“This is my technological answer to the high levels of crime in this country,” says Thabo Maibi, a student who has graduated from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

The app is called Mokhosi which is a Sesotho name, meaning “Emergency”.

It can report the following to your neighbours, local security groups or the police: robbery, rape, murder, assault, car theft, cattle theft, gun shot, medical situation, car accident, fire, lost items, the list goes on.

It is not a question.

You are going to be either in trouble, or see someone in trouble at one point or another in your life.

It is a sad reality but a reality nevertheless. So Maibi has been taught that unity is strength, which in Sesotho, means “letšoele le beta poho”.

According to Maibi, the most important thing to happen when you are in trouble is to feel and see that you are not alone.

“In fact, thieves and thugs often pound on you in your moment of weakness, when you are alone,” said one expert.

So suppose you find that all of a sudden, a robber has entered your home at night.

It can also be that the robber has not just entered your home but that of your neighbour.

You can take one or all of the following actions on the Mokhosi app.

Press a button that will portray what is happening.

For instance, if there is a car theft, you press the car theft button.

The app automatically searches for your neighbours’ phones in which the same app is installed and tells them that you are in trouble.

It can estimate the neighbours’ location through the GPS system.

That is, it will only alert neighbours who are only a certain distance from you.

It alerts them by ringing them until they pick up their phones and check.

The ringing is good because if the neighbours are on a sound mode, they will pick the notification up quick.

Then they see your name and the kind of trouble you are in (a thief is trying to steal your car).

The message is short, like, “Thabo Maibi, car theft.”

Immediately, the neighbours have an idea what the call means.

If you are reporting your neighbour’s car being stolen, you have an option whether to put in your name or not.

You can just send an SMS that will be seen by every one of your neighbours that so-and-so is having his car stolen.

The message will arrive to neighbours like any that comes to cell phones as notifications or even sounds.

There is another option.

As neighbours, you can make a safety group on this app, just like a WhatsApp group where if one neighbour has a problem, he can ring on the group.

This time you are not ringing to a random neighbour who happens to have the app.

You are ringing to specific people.

Everyone in the group will receive a ring, along with the message, “Thabo Maibi, fire!” neighbours will immediately know that Thabo Maibi’s house might be on fire and come to assist.

The app also has an option to call the police (LMPS) and the soldiers (LDF).

Their numbers are stored on the phone.

As a business, Thabo hopes the app will make money through adverts.

The app is likely to be used by many people so where people gather, advertisers gather too.

Maibi says he is also developing the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) version (’Masechocha) for people in the rural areas to alert each other.

“Stock theft is a big problem in rural areas,” he said, adding that “many people still rely on ’masechochas there”.

Above all, Maibi says he is working on a functionality in which he can be able to help those who downloaded the app to trace their phones if they get lost or stolen.

“You will register on the app for this kind of assistance,” he said.

Own Correspondent

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