Lebanon turns to apps to avoid gunfights

The Way to Safety

 

We have apps for alarm clocks, diets, traffic, news, and now we have an app that helps those of us in dangerous areas avoid street violence. These advance-warning apps help the Lebanese avoid the violence spilling over from Syria.

Mohammed Taha founded Ma2too3a, a crowdsourced app that takes real-time information from its users about protests, traffic, roadblocks and other violence and plots them on a map.

Although smartphone penetration in Lebanon is relatively low, the app has over 80,000 downloads, while actual usage depends on the current  political climate.

Meanwhile entrepreneur Firas Wazneh is seeking to develop a product that will respond to gunfire. The app, called Way to Safety, aims to leverage crowdsourced information, especially sound and geolocation, to identify the type of weapon used, direction of shooting, and number of shots fired within 30 seconds of the incident. The app also takes data from twitter to help identify the situation.

Due to the culture of the area, which juxtaposes celebrations with extreme acts of violence, it is important for residents of the area to be able to distinguish between fireworks and gunshots. Not only does this app provide utility in terms of avoiding dangerous areas, but it also helps offer peace of mind to know that that loud bang was in face not violence.

Why I’m Curious

As technology becomes more accessible to developing nations, its citizens will become increasingly innovative in developing ideas that will actually solve for problems that can save lives. I’m curious to see what technologies develop around mobile that aren’t purely based on commercial interest, but that are based in human interests. Further, I’m curious to see how big data can potentially affect geo-political conflicts.

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