• A Year On, SOS App Fails Safety Test

    The Delhi Police had designed an SOS system about a year ago to help tackle the rising safety concerns among the women of the city. The app, named Himmat, was meant to solve the safety woes of the city and, according to an RTI report, it completely failed the test. In 2015, only 123 actionable complaints were registered thrugh the app while the number dropped to a mere 36 in 2016. Considering that more than 6,000 people had downloaded the app, the response has been dismal.

    TOI quoted Ved Pal, an activist from South Delhi, ”Immediately after the launch of the app, cops received 3,416 complaints, of which only 45 were found to be genuine. Police said women initially used the application to check if it worked. A few months later, however, women realised it was easier to call their relatives or even the police in times of trouble rather than log into Himmat.”

    Even though the complaints that were logged through the application were solved by the police, it only grew to be inconvenient to use it altogether in a state of emergency.

    How the app works?

    A person who downloads the app has to provide two emergency numbers to be put in the application. In times of distress, they can click the power button or shake the phone to send an SOS to the central police station which then captures audio and video of the surroundings of the phone that sent the SOS signal. Patrol cars in the area are then sent an SMS about the situation and so is the local station house officer.

    Women complained about the app hanging mid-way and not loading properly on “cheap” smartphones.

    While the Delhi police is upping their technology game, its women’s helpline (1091) received 933 distress calls last year and 471 till date in this year as compared to the 5 complaints received on the Hike messenger number that was introduced last year.

    Are we using the right channels, are we targeting the right techniques to improve women safety? These are questions that still need answers.

    Feature Image courtesy: Hindustan Times