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The young developer tries to code his way to a crime-free world.
The young developer tries to code his way to a crime-free world.

MOST of us have been mugged at least once and have found ourselves in not-so-safe situations on numerous occasions, thanks to the poor security situation in the country. From mugging to killings, it’s pretty much routine now. Amidst this, a young techie from Karachi has developed an app to help us feel a bit more safe.

Crighter – portmanteau of the words crime and right – is a free safety app that lets you document emergency situations and notify others in real time. How does it do that?

Download the app, sign up with your details like phone number and email address along with those for an authority you’d like to be informed and activate it. The app runs in the background so in case of an untoward event, press the power button thrice and the app will continuously capture pictures for 5 seconds, record audio, take location along with date and time and will send it all to the provided contact details with alert notification. It also shows a security map of locations marked as safe, normal or dangerous based on the user requests generated through the app.

The startup was founded in 2018 by Faizullah Arain, an 18 year old self-learned developer, who felt tech could help address and prevent the ever growing street crimes. In January this year, the first version of the app was launched.

Given that it’s a very young startup, Crighter is still bootstrapped but the young founder is looking to garner the interest of some big fish in the tech sector. “The app has been tested and took off quite well so I feel we are ready to market ourselves. But that requires a lot of money so a timely investment would help us reach a far greater audience,” the founder shares.

The app is completely free so how does Arain make money? Well, as of now, he doesn’t but the founder has possible areas he would consider monetising eventually. “I want Crighter to first gain more traction so it will stay free in the near future. There are a number of revenue streams that can then be tapped such as a freemium model after adding more premium features or making it a paid app with very minimal charges,” says the founder.

This is not the only app in this business though. Within the alert notification business, one by the name of Women Safety has been doing something similar. Whereas, bSafe – a Norwegian company now operating from the US – with over $5 million in investment, has taken the tech one step further and lets you activate SOS by voice, then send your location to guardians and it livestreams everything. So in a truly global industry, how exactly does the teenage developer plan to stay in the game?

“Many startups operating in the scene actually require the app to be downloaded on both phones – yours and the authority’s – and send details via a multimedia message, which is never a good idea in Pakistan. With Women Safety, you have to first open the app and then tap the button to alert, which can be unfeasible if one is in a risky situation. On the other hand, Crighter has bypassed all of that and lets you ring the alarm with just the power button and sends everything through both text message and email without having to download it on both phones.

“As for bSafe, it’s a paid service with most of their unique premium features like live streaming and voice activation unavailable to basic users and charges around Rs1,100 a month. Compared to that, we are a completely free and no-ad service so that obviously makes our app more accessible,” says Arain.

In the security map arena, MySafetiPin – an Indian app – calculates the safety score of a place based on nine parameters, including access to public transport or how crowded it is and alerts you if enter an unsafe location. “Our methodology is completely different since Crighter’s security map is generated through in-app user requests, and not other exogenous factors,” explains the founder.

And what about the data? The app takes pictures, records audio etc, so what exactly is Crighter’s role in all of it? “All we do is send of all it to you and your authority’s phones/emails, without actually storing anything. Whereas user app data, such as requests and their locations, is how the security map is updated,” says Arain.

While there is plenty of need for a safety app in Pakistan, Arain doesn’t want to limit himself to just one country. “In the developed world, people are much more conscious of security and safety than here and Crighter could well exploit that. It’s just due to resource constraints that we haven’t marketed ourselves,” he says.

Whether the young coder from Karachi will be able to turn Crighter into tech’s daredevil remains to be seen.

The writer is member of staff:

m.mutaherkhan@gmail.com

Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2019