By Katy Santa Maria
Residents of Madurai, India, don’t always feel safe where they live. According to recent census data, the number of public citizens far outweighs the number of those in the police protecting them—600 to 1. As a result, communication between concerned residents and their understaffed, under-resourced police centers is often inefficient and slow.
A group of girls in Madurai designed a solution—through innovation and technology—to tackle their city’s critical issue with communication in public safety. The app is called MaduraiCityPolice, which allows Madurai community members—and particularly women, who are more afraid to risk reaching out for help—to send complaints and messages of emergency to their local police force. All it takes is a simple tap on a mobile device.
These girls designed, built, and launched their app through the supportive network of our Technovation program, which encourages young women across the globe to design, build, and launch mobile apps that solve their communities’ toughest problems. Senthil Kumar, engineer for Qualcomm, is the rockstar Technovation ambassador who travels the 270-plus mile (435 km) trek from Bangalore to Madurai every weekend to coach this amazing group of girls.
In the first week of MaduraiCityPolice’s launch, more than 2,000 people downloaded the app and over 30 complaints filed in every day, with efficiency and speed. We asked Senthil’s inventors more about this inspiring story—what we heard from them reaffirms our enthusiasm to #LeadTheChange:
How did you come up with the idea for this app?
All of our energy and passion is to make Madurai as a better and safe place to live.
How did you share this app with the police department?
We noticed the current city police website uses very old technology. We redesigned the site with Google’s latest web technology. We showed the demos to Madurai police. They were impressed and asked us to develop the app for them. In previous MaduraiCityPolice app [versions], there were online SOS facilities only [which is not helpful for those in poor Internet coverage areas]. But the one we created recently has offline facilities along with online call options.
How do you feel knowing that your app is being used by the police department?
We are very proud and extremely happy that the city police are using a mobile app developed by us. We are proud that our app touches these lives.
Do you have plans to continue working on your app?
Yes absolutely, we believe we stepped up to the first stage of success. We would like to keep this momentum going for 2017!
Do you have plans to continue working with technology?
We would like to continue working with technology and building products to solve social problems. We believe that women have the capability to build great products.
Do you have advice for girls around the world participating in Technovation?
We would like to say that Technovation is not just a contest—it is an opportunity to take yourself forward. Don’t stop growing your idea after the contest. Take your idea forward to make some changes in the world.