Download Namola, the local app that gives you a direct line to the police

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Namola

Living in South Africa can be unduly stressful. Crime is a big part of life in what is otherwise one of the best countries in the world – and it isn’t helped by the fact that it sometimes feels like our police service is effete.

I’ve personally had to call emergency services before, and sat waiting for what seems like forever for a response. It’s hardly the sort of stuff to instil any confidence in law enforcement. It would be great to have something that feels like a direct line to the police. Enter Namola, a free app that does just that.

After a trial in Tshwane, the app has now launched for the rest of Gauteng. What it does is alert your nearest police and send your GPS coordinates at the press of a button, when you need it most.

“Namola is the revolutionary app that allows citizens to use their smartphones to share their GPS coordinates directly with the police. The first available officer is immediately directed to the citizen’s location while being monitored by the control room. Namola reduces the average dispatch time for police vehicles from over 2 minutes 30 seconds down to 13sec, an 11x improvement in speed. The goal is to provide South Africans with an easy-to-use tool to assist them in the war against crime.”

namolawork

And it seems to work! In testing the app, we requested help, then immediately tried to cancel the request. Within 60 seconds, we received a call back from Namola’s call centre to make sure we were safe.

The app is live in Gauteng, and is set to roll out to other parts of the country later in the year.

“Only the Gauteng police have been integrated into the app, with more metros and provinces looking to enable the app for wider coverage across the country.”

The app will also let users rate police responses (and visa versa to eliminate nonsense calls), with the analytics being used to establish crime hotspots and ensure a “virtuous feedback loop.” You can also use the app to report corruption, taking a picture at the same time.

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You can download Namola for iOS and Android right now.

Last Updated: May 11, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • I’m the idiot who hit the request assistance button expecting a stage two and it instantly called the cops..

    I cancelled it within milliseconds and then got a call back from Namola less than a minute later to confirm everything was okay.

    If that sort of service level continues this will be groundbreaking

    • Original Heretic

      Is he:
      a) raping you or someone you know?
      b) corrupt?
      c) showering after doing something bad to you?
      d) laughing really annoyingly at what he’s just done?
      e) stolen something from you or someone you know?
      f) ALL OF THE ABOVE?!?

  • Milesh Bhana

    Great idea, but with one minor issue. If you’ve been a victim of crime (mugging, hijacking, break-in), there’s a very high probability that you no longer have your smartphone 🙁

    • Yes but it’s also highly likely that someone near you does have a smartphone

      I’ve personally witnessed far more crime than I’ve been subjected to and this would 100% help in getting hold of the police

      The report corruption feature is also brilliant for when you get asked for a bribe by someone

  • Original Heretic

    Yeah, police service is rather terrible. Break-in at my my place was two days ago, and I’m STILL waiting for them to come and dust for fingerprints.

    • HvR

      Shouldn’t take longer than 24 hours, phone your sector commander to complain, then the station commander and then IPID

      • Original Heretic

        The words “shouldn’t” is used way too often when speaking of the service from our police.

        • HvR

          I will not claim that there isn’t serious issues in SAPS and that it is getting worse; frankly it is scary AF to see how senior police officials (FU General Bothma) ignores our constitution, high court judgments and just make up laws by themselves.

          But being part in our local CPF have had me realised that are still some good SAPS guys on the ground trying to make a difference and public not informing them of what is going on make it even more impossible to improve things. We’ve had the same problem with the crime scene technician in our area, after the sector commander finally got official complaints could people be held accountable and fired.

          • Original Heretic

            Yeah man, it’s terrible when a coupe of people give the whole industry a bad name.
            The service I got at the police station when I reported it was great. The detective came round to look at my place after hours, we had a long discussion about what happened.
            The only snag so far has been the fingerprinting.

            But it’s pretty much the same in ANY industry/job. Most people do good jobs, but it’s those few that don’t that everyone remembers.

  • HvR

    That 2m30s benchmark is probably from 10111 call center.

    Never had a problem getting hold of SAPS and getting the vehicle out (our station commander even supplied people with each sector patrol vehicles cell number) problem is the lack of SAPS officers and vehicles mean too large sector and patrol zones and thus having response times stuck north of 20 minutes.

    As government is more interested in converting SAPS into their brown shirt brigade than actual protection and serving I’m not too optimistic that this will improve regardless of any tech improvement.

  • Travis

    Nice theory, but how likely is it that the heavily under-resourced SAPS are going to rush out to respond to a signal from an app. I’d feel a lot more at ease if you could use the app to connect to an armed response company.

    • I don’t think it’s helpful to be negative about the SAPS and private enterprise working together to improve their efficiency.. I always prefer to be optimistic from the get go and applaud them for attempting to improve.

    • Well, it does connect you through to Nomula’s call centre, and from our ,imited testing thus far it seems to be working.

  • HairyEwok

    Ok so let’s say you’re being robbed. Time is probably the most important factor when it happens. If they call within 60 seconds it’s safe to assume the robbers either found you already or took your phone.

    What I’m trying to get to is that if they phone you back how will they know that the person answering the phone isn’t the robbers saying everything is fine and it was an accidental test.

    We can’t expect the police to go to each and every button pressed location either.

    • They say that an unanswered callback means instant dispatch.

  • Admiral Chief

    I really hope that this is a massive success

  • Magoo

    I’ve only ever called the police once. When I was a teen, home-alone and someone broke in. It took them over 4 hours to arrive. So that 13 seconds is a whole 1107 x faster.

  • Sageville

    It’s sad that our 10111 is so useless.

    But this app is a great idea, if it helps just 1 person out it’s a success imo.

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