WHY? For fighting crime in real time
“SPOTTM is a platform that allows us to become active change agents in our communities—and not just bystanders—when it comes to addressing social issues.”
More than two-thirds of South African citizens live in urban areas, where crime is most prevalent. But the country also has the largest number of citizens in southern Africa with mobile Internet access. This presented a great opportunity for Lawrence Suss and Beverley Paly, co-founders of the self-funded SPOTTM company, to create a crowdsourcing app that instantly alerts users to crime in their area.
Says Suss, “I was hijacked in Cape Town, and as I stood there waiting for the police, I knew that the limited number of police in the neighbourhood would make it difficult for them to track my car. I thought, if there were a real-time way for me to notify thousands of neighbours to be on the lookout, it would certainly increase the chances of the police locating my car before it left my neighbourhood.”
With the SPOTTM app, victims of crime or concerned citizens can immediately report a felony to thousands of anonymous community members (called Spotters) in their area, respond to police identikits, or instantly alert family during an emergency. Reports—which contain geolocation and time data—are received and vetted by the SPOTTM helpdesk before being forwarded to Spotters and local law enforcement agencies.
“SPOTTM is a platform that allows us to become active change agents in our communities—and not just bystanders—when it comes to addressing social issues,” says Paly.
The founders’ research revealed that people in high-crime neighbourhoods were most concerned about the slow response times of law enforcement. That led Suss and Paly to partner with private security companies and community forums. “In working with armed response agencies in various communities, we are able to offer app users a pay-as-you-go call-out feature during an emergency. This guarantees a response in that urgent situation.”
Help is just a click away
How to use the SPOTTM app
Green button: Report an incident quickly and easily, with the option of uploading audio, video or photo evidence.
Red button: Alert family or friends and the police, should you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Amber button: Upload images or videos to alert the local council about service requests e.g. fixing burst water pipes, faulty street lights, potholes etc.
Sound-the-Alarm icon: Send a location-based SOS alert to three preselected contacts and local law enforcement.
Walk-me-Home icon: Allows your contacts, via GPS, to ‘walk’ you home virtually.