Mumbai Local

Few takers for govt-designed women safety apps

Maharashtra stands third in the list of states with most number of crimes against women, but it seems there aren’t many takers for personal safety applications the state launched over a year ago.

Fresh data from the Maharashtra Police show a weak response to women safety apps created by various units of the state police, with only 1,27,526 women downloading six to seven different apps. Of the total, only 73,681 have actually used the app at some point to either register a complaint or alert beat officials, and only 17,808 complaints were registered based on alarms raised via apps in the past one year, latest data from state police shows.

Maharashtra had launched various mobile apps for women’s safety, including ICE by Mumbai police in collaboration with KPMG, the First Immediate Response (FIR) app for Thane and Navi Mumbai, Khoj for Pune and its periphery, Drishti for various districts in Vidharbha and the Talash portal and app for the entire state.

The ICE is a multilingual app that sends an SOS distress message with a touch and also gives easy access to guidelines for disaster preparedness, first-aid, ambulance and contact details of family members and police. It also provides information on the users' past medication, blood groups and their allergies.

Others apps such as Khoj are Android-based and help in search for lost property. Drishti helps the user share information of traffic mishaps with the police, and FIR in reaching out to beat marshals in the vicinity. The Talash app is for locating information on any vehicle using its registration and chassis.

However, experts say most of these web and mobile-based apps are for Android-powered devices, making it difficult for those using other operating systems to download them easily. There is limited awareness on how the apps can be used. For example, some apps even allow the user to record video and forward it to the police for further investigation.

Broadly, the apps have two modules — either they are developed on the server side, or purely as a client-side application.

Amit Jaju, executive director, fraud investigation and dispute services, and head (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) software license forensic at Ernst & Young said, “While it certainly is a positive start for personal security apps, there is a need for better penetration and stronger deterrence effect. Without any doubt, Android gives apps better access to core operation systems of a device, bu t there is no reason why some sort of access certification cannot be worked out with either Apple or BlackBerry for better access to their operating systems.”

Some sort of access certification can be worked out with either Apple or BlackBerry

Amit JajuFraud investigation and dispute services, Ernst & Young

There is limited awareness on how the apps can be used effectively

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 1:15:13 PM |

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