The SHOUT app has really been getting great exposure lately, thanks to the efforts of the SHOUT Foundation. Cytrus are honoured to have been a part of this initiative and wish the app continued success.
Cytrus are working with SHOUT to develop a Blackberry option which will be featured soon. We are very excited about this as it will allow more South Africans to get involved.
Below is a article written in the Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) – 9 June by KOWTHAR SOLOMONS.
Cellphone application helps users steer clear of dangerous spots
TECHNOLOGY is emerging as an important new tool in the fight against crime, with cellphone users not only able to offer information used to identify specific “hotspots”, but also use this information for their own protection.
The Shout mobile application offers information about incidents of crime reported by users.
Applications like the free Shout app, developed by anticrime organisation ShoutSA along with Samsung, have turned cellphones into early warning systems against crime.
The Shout app allows users to report incidents of crime on the road. This feeds into a public database, which allows other users to access the same information when planning their routes.
Although another GPS which offered the same service, Road Angel, has been out of use in SA since June 2010, the industry expects the development of a rush of similar applications.
Grant Byron, General Manager of web and mobile development firm Cytrus, who participated in the development of the Shout app, said this technology allows users to give a complete description of any crimes.
“Users will be immediately notified when they enter an area where a crime has recently taken place. From there, they can pull up a history of criminal activity in the area, like the date, location and circumstances, based on the collective database.
“If a user has become a victim of crime they can report it, and after being approved it will be loaded on to the database for other users. Because you have to register for the service, anyone making false claims can be reported and blocked from the system,” he said.
While users are not allowed to list locations of speed cameras and roadblocks, the application is not limited to reporting crimes on the roads.
“If you are a witness to a crime, or know of a crime in an area, you can still log it on to the system and report it.
“It is much more than a navigator, and has been designed to protect users and prevent crime,” Byron said of the app.
“Also, if you’re house hunting for example, you could use the app’s search function to check an area for its history of crime.”
He said plans were being drawn up to expand the service to BlackBerry users in the coming months.
The addition of the app to BlackBerry is expected to be the first step in expanding the Shout app to cellphone brands other than Samsung.
Gary Ronald, spokesman for the Automobile Association (AA), said such applications came with their pros and cons.
“It’s a great system that helps create much-needed awareness. If you have a person from Johannesburg in Cape Town they wouldn’t know what areas to avoid. The GPS would guide them along the safest route to avoid any hotspots.”
Ronald said that if these hotspots were being so easily identified, he wondered why law enforcement authorities were not taking steps to clamp down on crime there.
“Criminals will only continue hitting these areas if they’re successful.
“If we implement some sort of infrastructure or system to stop them, they will give up and move on. Clearly not enough is being done,” he said.
Hector Elliot, spokesman for the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, said such initiatives were welcome.
“We are definitely in favour of any and all information-sharing about crime of any sort.
“Obviously there need to be safeguards to prevent anyone from evading justice, but it is still a wonderful use of technology,” said Elliot.
He said that the department was considering working with the University of Cape Town to create similar apps for Android phones.