Students develop security, emergency app

Friday September 15 2017
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A student tries out the app on her phone. Photo by Stephen Wandera

KAMPALA. “I have liked this app. If I had it last year, we would not have been robbed easily at our home in Entebbe last year,” said Lydia Nalumansi, a student of Entebbe International High School, who was one of the first people to test the new application.

The app offers emergency services to a smart phone owner in case of an accident, robbery or fire outbreak.
Named Nisaidie, a Swahili word for help me, the app developers say it is to help curb insecurity and improve emergency services in the country.

“We are a team of seven students who started developing this app in June 2017. Our idea was inspired by the rampant fire outbreaks and insecurity of caused by iron bar hit men that engulfed most districts in central Uganda. So far it has three functions in use. By use of a smart mobile phone, numbers of emergency service providers like police, insurance and ambulance are configured to the app and incase of need for help, one just taps the app icon and it sends several messages to the aligned telephone,” Mr Mathew Okema team leader of Victoria University said.

Mr Okema said most of the developers are in their third year offering information, communication and technology.
“The app also takes photos and videos using the front and back camera,” Mr Okema noted.
Mr Peter Isiku, guild president Victoria University also noted that the photographs and video taken by the smartphone can be used as evidence in courts of law.
“The app only works when internet is on but it is still being improved,” he said.
He said the app has features of global positioning system that make it easily located.

Asked how many people have smart phones in the country, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Mr Godfrey Mutabazi said he was not sure.
“I do not have the correct figure but we have about 23 million mobile phone subscribers. As we move from 2G to 3G (“generation” of the mobile network) every mobile subscriber will be using smart phones. There are cheap smart phones from China and we are lobbying government to scrap taxes on them,” he explained.

When contacted, Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Mr Emilian Kayima said: “Technology is the new way the world is heading. If that is what they have developed then it is a good thing. They should seek an appointment with our (police) director for information and communication technology to see how we can support them. I am sure we shall like it.”

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Business Consultant Mr Simon Senkaayi who attended the launch over the weekend hailed the students for the innovation as a safety tool but urged them to be time conscious and aggressive.
Victoria University vice chancellor Dr Krishna N. Shsrama promised to support the students and others who may come up with such innovative ideas.

“We welcome new ideas and as management of Victoria University, we strive to be the centre of excellence for science and technology in the country,” he said.
Uganda has over 100,000 emergency service providers and on average annually registers 1,500 robbery cases, 1000 kidnap cases and 18,000 accident cases.
Students at the climax of the launch were treated to a treasure hunt with winners being given Victoria University t-shirts among other prizes.

Meanwhile, the university has offered up to 30 percent grant of tuition fees. In a statement issued Friday September 15, 2017, a total of 150 students are to benefit from the grant scheme.
“Victoria University an institution of higher learning licensed by National Council for Higher Education invites 150 talented students to take up degrees and diplomas for the for 2017/2018 academic year. The applicants must be 18 to 35 years, have good academic results and fill in a scholarship forms that are available at the university office along at Victoria Towers, Plot 1-13 Jinja Road, Kampala or fill it online,” reads the statement.
Adding, “The applicant must show reason for the grant, prove referees and be ready to give back to the community.”