Personal security is an issue in South Africa. So, when an innovative local app helps South Africans avoid danger, it will send help when it is needed and produces evidence that is valid in court if introduced, it is taken seriously. The app is called Eyesrus.

Not only does this app aid individuals before an event occurs by tracking people while driving, walking or jogging, it is also tailored to help fight crime by automatically supplying users with evidence to present to the police for use in courts, should they fall victim to a crime.

“Eyesrus was conceptualised when a friend and I decided that my experience in telematics (vehicle-based tracking) could be put to good use by helping marginalised people such as victims of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), the LBGQF community targeted by hate crimes, and vulnerable women and children,” says developer Sibusiso Mbhele.

“But a survey we conducted of more than 3 000 South Africans showed us that we needed to do more.

“For us, Eyesrus is the ultimate personal protection tool. If you are feeling threatened, activating a button on the app puts you in contact with a nominated guardian or the call centre. At this point, the app automatically switches on and begins streaming audio of the unfolding situation to a secure cloud site.

“When a person using this app is moving onto the red zone, the app will automatically turn on the front and rear cameras on the cell phone to send visual material along with requesting a code for a response. Ten seconds later, if no response is received from the user to shut down, emergency protocols are triggered, and an armed-response company is dispatched.

“Our experience has shown that help has arrived at the latest, within eight minutes and in most cases, around five minutes. Fast response time is ensured through a network of security companies – with a total staff complement of about 5 400 people who send help immediately after they are alerted.”

Taking security further is the ‘Check-In’ feature designed specifically for people on dates or out with friends. The app can be set so that at set times, the user checks in. If a report-in is missed, Eyesrus automatically contacts a designated guardian and sets off a GPS trail showing where the user is.

For people who are on foot in unfamiliar surroundings, the ‘dead man’s trigger’ feature ensures that they are safe. Walking holding their phone with a finger on the app logo signals that they are safe. By moving their finger off the button, simply pressing the logo and letting go starts the process. If the call is not stopped within 10 seconds, the rescue procedure is launched.

Joggers can enter the route they will be following with any deviations from the planned route being noted. If no response is received explaining the change, the location is noted, and the response process begins.

“We are proud to win the Best South African Solution category. The MTN Business App of the Year Awards is a huge product endorsement, and we hope the win will attract potential new business users and individuals to the app,” says Mbhele.

“One of the most noteworthy aspects of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards is that it attracts talented developers concerned about the social issues facing their fellow citizens and inspires them to help make lives better, and in the case of Eyesrus, safer,” says Kholofelo Magagane, head of marketing at MTN Business.

“Eyesrus is a worthy winner of the Best South African Solution accolade. We wish the developers well as they go forward, add more benefits, and contribute to making South Africa a better place for all to live in,” concludes Magagane.