Month: July 2019

Some of the countrys most controversial and discr

first_imgSome of the country’s most controversial and discredited outsourcing companies are set to win contracts under the government’s new programme to find jobs for disabled people and other marginalised groups.The 11 organisations that have been successful in the bidding process will be allowed to tender for the back-to-work contracts that will be offered under the Work and Health Programme.They were all bidding for the right to tender for contracts across six regional areas in England and Wales, and a single national contract across the two countries.The Work and Health Programme will support disabled people, those who are long-term unemployed, and other groups such as ex-carers, ex-offenders, homeless people and those with drug or alcohol dependencies.Among those successful in the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Umbrella Agreement for Employment and Health Related Services were Maximus, People Plus (formerly known as A4E) and G4S.G4S has been successful in every area apart from Wales, while People Plus has been successful in all seven lots.Maximus, through its UK company Remploy, has been selected only for the Wales lot.Maximus has a disturbing track record of discrimination, incompetence and fraud in the US, while Remploy, formerly owned by the government, revealed plans last year to halve the pay of service-users who take part in inspections of health and care facilities.Last year, Maximus was accused in the House of Commons of falsifying the results of “fitness for work” assessments, and of “a disconcerting pattern of behaviour that indicates that the trade-off between cost-cutting and profit maximisation is being felt by very vulnerable people”.People Plus, which has secured places in all seven lots, was formerly known as A4E, but in 2015 was taken over by another company and rebranded, after 10 former A4e employees were sentenced for a back-to-work fraud. The previous year, DNS reported allegations that emerged during an employment tribunal – and were strongly refuted by the company – that A4E had introduced a new policy that forced advisers with no specialist training or experience to start working with “vulnerable” claimants with mental health conditions, learning difficulties and drug and alcohol problems on the Work Programme.Last year, the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell, criticising the decision to hand the government contract to run the national discrimination helpline to G4S, told fellow peers that the company had “an appalling history of abuse and mismanagement”.G4S’s track record includes claims of assault and racism at immigration detention centres, the failure to provide enough security staff for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a coroner’s verdict of “unlawful killing” at the hands of G4S staff after the death of Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga in 2010, and serious allegations concerning G4S staff at secure training centres for children.The other successful organisations are Ingeus, Reed, Shaw Trust, APM, Working Links, The Work Company, Pluss and Prospects.Many of the country’s largest disability charities are likely to seek funding under the Work and Health Programme as sub-contractors for the organisations that win the main contracts, in a move which many activists believe could make it harder for them to speak out on welfare reform.The Work and Health Programme will replace the mainstream Work Programme and the specialist Work Choice scheme for disabled people, but there have been concerns that it will see a significant cut in funding.The government has promised £100 million a year by 2020-21 for disabled people found to have limited capability for work – paid for from cuts of more than £1 billion over the four years from April this year to new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) – as well as another £130 million a year for the overall programme.But industry research has suggested that this will mean a sizeable overall drop from the £750 million spent on employment support in 2013-14.DWP said yesterday (Wednesday) that it did not recognise this figure but was not able to say how much the overall budget on employment support had been and how much it would be under the new programme.She said the budget for the new programme was not yet “in the public domain”.Asked about the track records of Maximus, G4S and People Plus, the DWP spokeswoman said the umbrella agreement had been subject to public sector procurement regulations, and was conducted in an “open, transparent non-discriminatory manner”.She said: “Each competition is designed to identify the winning bids over a range of pre-determined criteria.”She said contracts would be awarded this autumn.Meanwhile, the consultation on the government’s work, health and disability green paper – which outlines its plans for the Work and Health Programme – is due to end tomorrow (17 February).The green paper revealed that the government was considering forcing all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity, including those who are terminally-ill or have the very highest support needs and have been placed in the ESA support group.It also repeatedly emphasised that the government wanted to “reinforce work as a health outcome”, increasing the number of job advisers in healthcare settings and making “the benefits of work an ingrained part of the training and professional approach of the health and social care workforce”.last_img read more

SAINTS failed to make their 12th Challenge Cup Sem

first_imgSAINTS failed to make their 12th Challenge Cup Semi Final in a row following a disappointing 18-4 defeat at Wigan.Despite dominating in terms of possession they lacked composure at crucial times to make progression all too easy for their opponents.The usual flair and pace around the ruck was missing too and even though there are players to return Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham will have to sit down with their charges and regroup for the rest of the Super League campaign.Wigan led 12-4 at the break after punishing two errors early in the half.Paul Wellens put Saints ahead when he latched on to Michael Shenton’s nice offload following Jonny Lomax’ cute chip through.But the Warriors hit right back through Sam Tomkins and Shaun O’Loughlin.Saints had a number of chances to get back in the game but couldn’t find the killer pass.In fact, on the balance of the opening 40 they would be upset not to be at least two scores to the good.More mistakes signalled the beginning of the second half but Wigan took the first chance offered to them – Brett Finch’s mazy run making Saints task more difficult.Then they simply closed out the game to make it a very frustrating afternoon for all.Both sides ripped into each other from the off but it was Saints that got the best of the early exchanges.Looking more balanced with Jon Wilkin, Gary Wheeler and Josh Perry back from injury, they forced an error from Anthony Gelling and then won a penalty when James Roby was taken high.And after gaining a drop out, Jonny Lomax’ grubber on the last saw Michael Shenton collecting over the lie and offloading to Paul Wellens.Lomax missing the conversion.Saints continued to dominate the opening 12 minutes but couldn’t further punish a number of mistakes from the hosts.And Wigan made them pay, scoring through Sam Tomkins on their first foray into their opponent’s half.The try was simple – dummy runners bamboozling the defence meaning they couldn’t pick up the full back’s run.Josh Charnley putting them ahead.Moments later it could have been worse – a Thomas Leuluai kick causing panic in the defence and Saints would have been pleased to see Wellens mop up.It was a warning sign unheeded as on the 20 minute mark Shaun O’Loughlin picked up an offload to increase the lead.Charnley tagging on his second ‘extras’ of the afternoon.Saints had a couple of chances to get back in the game but couldn’t demonstrate the execution when it was needed.And that was epitomised again when Wellens made a wonderful break from a scrum in his own 20, but no one backed him up.In the second half, both sides continued to show how not to keep hold of the ball despite having numerous chances.But Brett Finch finished off one of those opportunities with a great run from Leuluai’s pass.Tommy Makinson produced a wonderful break from inside his own 10 to get Saints right on the front foot and once his side won a repeat set the ball was fed to Gary Wheeler.The young centre seemed to have the ball stripped out right on the line but the video referee bizarrely gave a drop out.But once again Saints couldn’t find a way through – and that was the story of countless chances that came their way in the half.As the game entered the final ten minutes Saints began to give penalties away and Josh Charnley took the opportunity to tag on another two points.And that saw them through to the Semi Finals – and their second ‘rival’ scalp of the year.Saints will have to learn from this experience very quickly and show the rest of Super League they are still a force to be reckoned with.Match Summary:Wigan:Tries: Tomkins, O’Loughlin, FinchGoals: Charnley (3 from 4)Saints:Tries: WellensGoals: Lomax (0 from 1)Penalties:Wigan: 11Saints: 6HT: 4-12FT: 4-18REF: Richard SilverwoodATT: 12864Teams:Wigan:1. Sam Tomkins; 2. Josh Charnley, 26. Jack Hughes, 4. George Carmont, 24. Anthony Gelling; 6. Brett Finch, 7. Thomas Leuluai; 8. Paul Prescott, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Lee Mossop, 11. Harrison Hansen, 12. Gareth Hock, 13. Sean O’Loughlin.Subs: 14. Jeff Lima, 16. Liam Farrell, 17. Chris Tuson, 21. Epalahame Lauaki.Saints:1. Paul Wellens; 21. Tommy Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 17. Gary Wheeler, 5. Francis Meli; 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 9. James Roby, 8. Josh Perry, 13. Chris Flannery, 4. Sia Soliola 12. Jon Wilkin.Subs: 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Shaun Magennis.last_img read more

Crews put out small boat fire at Smith Creek Boatyard

first_img The Wilmington Fire Department says it was a tug boat on fire.The boatyard is located at 805 Cornelius Harnett Dr. near downtown Wilmington. Firefighters respond to a tug boat fire on January 12, 2018 (Photo: Wilmington Fire Dept. Twitter) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Fire Department responded to Smith Creek Boatyard after reports of a boat on fire.According to New Hanover County Dispatch, the call came in just after 7 a.m. Friday. Dispatch says the fire is now out and no injuries were reported.- Advertisement – last_img

MDA Toast to Life Gala

first_img Tickets for the event start at $150 per seat.For more information on the event, click here. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY TV) — The Muscular Dystrophy Association is hosting it’s fourth annual Toast to Life Gala October 19.This is an event that is dedicated to saving and improving lives. During the evening, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy cocktails, hors d’ oeuvres, a seated dinner, bid on silent and live auction items and enjoy live entertainment. This special event unites MDA families, business and community leaders and corporate sponsors in support of this important cause.- Advertisement – last_img

Elks Lodge Artisan Craft Show

first_img The event takes place on Saturday, November 3 at 5102 Oleader Dr. It will start at 8 a.m. and go until 5 p.m.You will find paintings, prints, pottery and other artwork available for purchase. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This weekend you can go to the Elk’s Annual Lodge Artisan Craft Show to see local artists work.It’s a large local venue for local artists to show off their work and make some money in the process. Food will be available breakfast and lunch, for vendors and attenders. All the money raised from the craftsmen and artists renting spaces goes back into the Elk’s Lodge, which gives back to the community.- Advertisement – last_img

GazaIsrael violence flares into second day with rocket attacks air strikes

first_img A boy looks at a damaged house after it was hit by a rocket, fired from Gaza over the border, to the Israeli side in Kiryat Gat, Israel May 4, 2019 REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun A ball of fire is seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Suhaib SalemA ball of fire is seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem Gaza militants fired more than 200 rockets into Israeli towns and villages through Saturday, while Israel hit back with tank shelling and air strikes that Palestinian officials said killed a baby, her mother and a gunman.Cross-border hostilities which broke out on Friday flared into a second day, with Gazans fleeing Israeli strikes and air-raid sirens sending Israelis running to shelters as interceptor missiles blew up Palestinian rockets in the sky.The escalation of the conflict, which comes just ahead of both the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Israel’s Independence Day holiday, prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene a high-level meeting of his security chiefs.Egyptian mediators, credited with brokering ceasefires in previous rounds of violence, were working to prevent further escalation of hostilities.The latest round of violence began on Friday when a Palestinian Islamic Jihad sniper fired at Israeli troops, wounding two, according to the Israeli military.Israel retaliated with an air strike that killed two militants from the armed Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza. Two other Palestinians protesting near the frontier were killed by Israeli forces on the same day, Palestinian officials said.Hamas and Islamic Jihad began firing waves of rockets into Israel early on Saturday. The Israeli military said its tanks and aircraft responded with strikes against more than 30 militant targets belonging to both groups. An Israeli police officer speaks with beachgoers as they are asked to leave the beach following security tension in the city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Beachgoers get ready after Israeli police asked them to leave the beach following security tension in the city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli city of Ashkelon May 4, 2019 REUTERS/ Amir Cohen Smoke rises during Israeli air strikes in the southern Gaza Strip May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa A view shows buildings in Gaza City May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem A ball of fire is seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem Relatives of Palestinian Raed Abu Tair, who was killed during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, mourn during his funeral in the southern Gaza Strip May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem Chinese workers look on as an Iron Dome anti-missile projectile intercepts a rocket that was fired from Gaza, above the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohencenter_img Israelis look on as an Iron Dome anti-missile projectile intercepts a rocket that was fired from Gaza, above the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohen SharePrint Relatives of Palestinian Raed Abu Tair, who was killed during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, mourn during his funeral in the southern Gaza Strip May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem An Iron Dome anti-missile projectile intercepts a rocket that was fired from Gaza, above the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019 REUTERS/ Amir Cohen Explosions shook Gaza City, where busy streets were packed with shoppers carrying out their Ramadan preparations.The Gaza Health Ministry said a 14-month old baby and her mother were killed by one of the Israeli strikes and at least 12 other Palestinians were wounded. Residents identified two of them as militants.“The Israeli plane fired a missile near the house and the shrapnel entered the house and hit the poor baby,” said her aunt.Islamic Jihad said in a statement that the rocket barrages were a response to Friday’s events and that Israel has been delaying the implementation of previous Ibtessam Abu Arar. An Israeli military spokeswoman made no immediate comment.A small armed pro-Hamas group in Gaza, the Protectors of Al-Aqsa, said one of its men was killed in another air strike.The Magen David Adom ambulance service said two Israelis were wounded by shrapnel.Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said Israel was prepared to intensify its attacks. He added that Islamic Jihad was trying to destabilise the border and blamed Hamas for failing to rein it in.Islamic Jihad said in a statement that the rocket barrages were a response to Friday’s events and that Israel has been delaying the implementation of previous understandings brokered by Cairo.In a joint statement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said: “Our response will be broader and more painful if the enemy pursues its aggression.”EGYPTIAN MEDIATIONHamas said on Thursday that its Gaza chief, Yeyha Sinwar, had travelled to Cairo for talks on efforts to maintain calm along the border and alleviate hardship in the enclave.“Egypt has stepped up its efforts with Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Israel, but there is no conclusion yet,” said a Palestinian official familiar with Cairo’s mediation efforts.The United Nations has also been part of the Cairo talks.Although aerial exchanges are a frequent occurrence, Israel and Hamas have managed to avert all-out war for the past five years.Israel, whose Prime Minister Netanyahu won a fifth term in office on April 9, is due to host the 2019 Eurovision song contest finals in less than two weeks in Tel Aviv, towards which long-range rockets were launched in mid-March.Some 2 million Palestinians live in Gaza, whose economy has suffered years of blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts. Unemployment stands at 52 percent, according to the World Bank, and poverty is rampant.Israel says its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since the group seized control of Gaza in 2007.Over the past few weeks, Cairo’s mediation had helped persuade Israel to lift some restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza and expand the Mediterranean zone where Gazans can fish.But Israel scaled back the fishing zone this week in response to rocket fire and shut the border crossings entirely on Saturday after barrages from Gaza.(This story has been refilled to remove extraneous sentence fragment from paragraph 10)WhatsApp 1 of 13 Iron Dome anti-missile projectiles intercept rockets that were fired from Gaza, above the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israel May 4, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohen <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Only humane methods of pest control should be allowed – PD

first_imgPartit DemokratikuPartit Demokratiku Partit Demokratiku said that no effort should be spared to avoid unnecessary pain and distress, explaining that ‘only humane methods of pest control should be allowed’. In a statement on Sunday, the PD said that it will speak up for the betterment of animal welfare in Parliament during the upcoming debates saying that they are for the amendments which PD described as positive in favour of the protection of animals.PD deputy leader and Sliema local council candidate Timothy Alden said that the methods that inflict an inordinate amount of suffering on pests should be outlawed, citing glue traps as an example. The PD deputy leader said that cases of animal abuse need to be penalized and the relevant laws need to be strictly enforced.Head of Animal Welfare policy group and Birkirkara local council candidate Mark Zerafa observed that while Malta has some strong animal welfare laws it lacked serious enforcement. The Birkirkara candidate said that the party viewed animals as sentient beings, perceptive to pain and other emotions.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Can Ugandas robot dreams Change the Nations Technological problems

first_imgAdvertisement  The Technology of Business African start-ups make location payAfrica’s journey to space takes off Business at the tip of Africa’s fingersUsing apps to mend our streets Victor Kawagga is a softly spoken young man, but his quiet manner can’t counter the eager sparkle in his eyes and the passion he has for the machines he’s surrounded by.The bedroom of this house in the Ugandan capital Kampala has been converted to a home lab, and the young people hard at work here are building robots.The ‘him’ he is referring to is Solomon King, the 29-year-old technologist and businessman who takes robotics into the classrooms of Uganda as the founder of Fundi Bots.“He stalked me,” laughs Mr King, bending his head slightly to fit his lanky frame into the doorway. – Advertisement –  They expect it to take two months to complete the robotNow Victor and 12 others spend their days at Mr King’s home working on projects that involve using locally-sourced materials  in this case bike chains, spokes and the like  to build a robot that will move, sense water and light, and transmit signals to a receiver.Victor wants to go to university  but this is Uganda, and for ordinary people higher education is expensive.Solomon King, the founder of Fundi Bots, holds one of the kit robots they use at their robotics campsThe government-funded scholarships don’t always go where they should. Fundi Bots – fundi is Swahili for maker or artisan – is his chance to learn about a world that might otherwise have been denied him.I. RobotThe everyday applications of robotics might escape the casual observer but, Mr King says the science has clear and practical applications for life in Uganda.”Fundibots for me is like a way to build a new breed of thinkers and innovators,” he says.”The thing about robotics is it’s one discipline, but there’s a million sub-disciplines in it.“I keep telling the students that when they’ve finished their first robot, they’ve learnt about electronics, they learnt about logical thinking, they’ve learnt about programming, mechanics, you’ve learnt a bit about biology, you’ve learnt popular science.”“By the time you have a small army of people who have done robotics at some point in their lives, their mindset is no longer the same. They look at solutions from a creative angle.”This certainly seems to be borne out by the young people in this room.“Basically what I like to do is create something,” says Arnold Ochola.“For example we have a power problem here in Uganda. So if I can come up with something that solves that I would really be proud of myself.”Phiona Namirimu wants to be an aero mechanical engineer: “Right now I’m building things, so if I hope to build a plane someday, I think I start small and grow big so this is part of it.”“Mother of invention Betty Kituyi Mukhalu of Café Scientifique is the Fundi Bots coordinator, and remembers their first school visit: “He came with this little robot, Nigel. Nigel walked, and it was so marvellous to see someone from our own environment having made that.”Mr King says that growing up he was always ‘tinkering’, pulling things apart and putting them back together, or making something new.Betty Kituyi Mukhalu: “[Solomon] talked about having a lab at home in his spare bedroom. That just charmed me.””Back then most of us kids made our own toys, we’d make wire cars and all sorts of gadgets from old tins and bottles and stuff.“I was always the one trying to make mine move on it’s own as opposed to being pulled along by a string.”Robotics is a ‘solution waiting for a problem’ says Mr King.“Long term there’s industrialisation which is maybe a bit too grand, but on the small scale we have small scale solutions – maybe a small windmill in a village that generates power. Maybe a home-made mosquito repellent system. That’s what I’m trying to do with the kids.“I think my biggest passion is to see Africans solving Africans problems.“A lot of the time we get assistance from abroad and when you bring a solution down here it doesn’t quite work, because it’s different mindsets, different environment, just the weather conditions alone are strange.“That’s what Fundi Bots is about. It’s called Fundi Bots but it’s almost less about the robots than the process of building the robots.”Mr King feels that agriculture in particular could benefit from robotics. Offline connectionsTechnology is helping improve the prospects of students in other ways.Connectivity and bandwidth are on-going problems in most emerging markets, and Uganda is no different.Despite the gradual roll-out of fibre-optic cable, and the spread of 3G – and soon 4G – connections some areas can be patchy, and the cost of transferring large amounts of data is high.The Remote Areas Community Hotspots for Education and Learning (RACHEL) repository is a database of textbooks, online resources, MIT Open courseware and other sources. The content is housed in a server – a PC harddrive – and available offline.It is the creation of a non-profit organisation called World Possible, and in Uganda the content is distributed by their partners UConnect.KiBO foundation students using the RACHEL repository. The KiBO foundation provides intensive courses in IT to young Ugandans.”We don’t have one textbook per child here as you do in Europe,” says UConnect’s Daniel Stern.“The teacher will have the textbook and the students will copy what the teacher puts on the blackboard, so to suddenly have access to an offline Wikipedia where everything is immediately clickable there’s a very high level of engagement.”UConnect supplies equipment – including solar-powered computer labs in rural areas – and the repository to schools, universities, hospitals, and prisons.Source: BBC Newslast_img read more

Tigo Pesa Customers Pocket 26 million in Ninth Quarterly Profit Share

first_imgTIGO head offices in Tanzania. Image Credit: furtherafrica Advertisement Tanzania’s leading digital lifestyle company, Tigo Inc. late this week announced another quarterly payment of Tshs 5.6 billion ($2.5 million) to Tigo Pesa users, the ninth time in a row that the telecom is distributing profit to its mobile financial services users.Speaking at press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tigo Head of Mobile Financial Services, Ruan Swanepoel said cumulatively the company has paid its mobile financial services users a total of Tshs 46.2 billion ($21.2 million) in quarterly payments since the launch of the service in July 2014.Swanepoel said that this year’s second quarterly profit share recorded a growth of 8%, attributing the surge to favorable interest rates on the trust funds placed with various commercial banks. – Advertisement – “This profit share is payable to individual customers, retail agents and other Tigo business partners who each receive payment based on the e-value they stored in their Tigo Pesa wallets,” Swanepoel explained.“We are really excited to be announcing this increased profit share distribution for the ninth successive time. This underlines our commitment to provide financial access to our customers and the country at large through our Tigo Pesa services,” said Swanepoel.He cited Tigo’s increased profitability, improved market condition and steady growth in the number of Tigo Pesa users as the major drivers to the significant increase in profit share especially from the merchant segment. Tigo Pesa currently has the largest network of over 50,000 merchants.[related-posts]As before, according to Swanepoel, the return to customers is calculated based on Tigo Pesa customers’ average daily balance stored in their mobile wallet adding that this profit share distribution scheme is in line with the Central Bank Circular issued in February 2014.Tigo Tanzania became the first telecom company in the world in 2014 to share profit generated from its mobile money Trust Account in the form of a quarterly distribution to its customers.last_img read more

Victoria University Kampala students unveil Nisaidie Android App to help fight crime

first_imgPeter Isiko and Mathew Okema Advertisement Students at Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda are getting practical by putting what they learn in class, the theory, into practice.On Friday last week, at the first ever Student’s Expo 2017, seven students from the Faculty of ICT led by their Guild President Peter Isiko showcased a security mobile app they call ‘Nisaidie’, a Swahili word meaning ‘help me’.The creation of the mobile app is premised on the many and increasing crimes that remain unreported due to lack of swift access to security and emergency service providers. – Advertisement – Mathew Okema, one of the seven students who designed the app, says Uganda has about 100,000 emergency service providers but people only know or use the Uganda Police Force.“The aim of this app is to improve productivity, when we say productivity; we mean the way things are done. The app aims to assist in efficient deployment of emergency services,” Okema clarifies.“The aim here is to connect mobile phone end user, the person who needs the services, to the service provider. This app creates security awareness.” Okema says explains. He noted that problem with policies that they have enough resources to investigate.Features of the appThe app has a simple and user friendly menu since it is made to be used during emergencies, a period a user might not have time to maneuver complicated menus.Its menu consists of categories, account button, chat room button, audio recorder and access to phone camera. Developers are looking into adding video recording option.“We disabled that camera flash because it would alert the attacker. What we are working on is replacing still photos with a video recording system,” Okema says.It has access to GPS and Google maps.The app has been made to bring comfort to the user – knowing that at any one time, you can call for help and there are people to have my back – and it improves flexibility – with this app, you don’t have to call service providers, they come to you.How the app worksFor starters, you will need an Android smartphone with internet connectivity. Plans are underway to have the app on other Operating Systems. Download and install the app on your smartphone and create an account using your Gmail account and mobile phone number.Peter Isiko says that your phone and app are verified by sending a verification code on your mobile number. Once you are done with installing and registering, in case of an emergency, you can ‘launch the app by tapping on its icon on your phone menu’.“When you launch the app, you will see the ‘N’ symbol which we refer to as the panic button. That is exactly what you press in case of an emergency situation,” Peter Isiko, the Guild President and one of the makers of the app, explains.“When you click the panic button, you phone will start doing a couple of things including recording audio of whatever is happening in your environment and taking pictures using the front and back cameras instantaneously,” he adds.The app currently has three categories of emergencies. These are accidents, robbery and fire. “When you click on any of the emergency category, the app will send an SMS to your emergency service provider or contact as you customized the app. Then they can take action,”One of the major dependencies of the app is that you must have internet connection much as you will and can send an SMS to an offline contact, but to maintain relevance of the app, you must be online, Isiko elaborates.In an interview on the sidelines of the expo, Okema revealed that the app is constantly registering your GPS location with 80 percent accuracy even when you have switched off your GPS locator.“When the GPS is switched off, it switches to offline mode that is how offline maps are generated,” says Okema.“Because of good offline Google maps, we have been able to incorporate that in the app. We incorporated the coding of Google maps into out app,” he adds.“If you shift location, let’s say from Kampala to Mbarara, the app will detect that you are in a new area and advise you to download a map for that area,”“It waits for the new location to be pinged for more than five minutes – which means that you are going to be in that area for long – then it asks if you should download the map for that area,”When the audio and photos are recorded, the app keeps them on the phone and cloud because of privacy issues. They are available only in case death happens or when police wants to carry out criminal investigations.Police picks interest in the appOkema says that they have interacted with police officials and they are interested in the app. “We had representatives of police here at the University when we developed the initial app. They advised us to make it free and incorporate it in their community policing software and programs,” Okema said in an interview.“We don’t want to make it look like it is only for the police. Some of the services provided by police are also provided by other people like private security companies, hospitals, etc.So we are catering for people who are stigmatized by police and those who believe in police. You can have police contacts or private security service providers as your emergency contact in the app. Or ambulance service providers or insurance company.”The app will not stop crimes from happening but it will create awareness, Okema says.Asked to what extent the app will curb crime, Okema explains that the app will not stop crimes from happening but it will create crime awareness and aid law enforcers in curbing crime.“Every time someone sends out an alert, it’s kept on record, so this helps law enforces to know where there is a high crime rate and act or deploy promptly.” Okema said.last_img read more

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