App helps commuters identify drivers, riders

By , People Daily Digital
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Ronald Kibunja came up with Safe Citizen to make it easier for users to know who’s taking them to their destinations.

Nowadays, travelling has been made easier. However, only a few people who use boda boda and public service vehicles (PSV) truly know the identity of their rider or driver.

Because of these, heinous crimes are happening across the transportation sector and most of them go unreported.

The reason being, concealment or lack of access to identitification details is the root of crime in all societies.

To ensure all this comes to an end, Ronald Kibunja Gichuhi, 33, chairman and CEO of Jenisys Kenya has come up with a mobile app to make  identity verification quicker and easier.

“I have developed Safe Citizen, which is creating a way for ordinary citizens to verify and record a person’s identity in real-time.

This app will empower many people and provide them with an avenue to better protect themselves,” he says.

The idea was borne in 2019 after Gichuhi had a close encounter with criminals in the boda boda sector three times.

Despite the three incidences, he couldn’t report the cases because he lacked any means to acquire and record the identity of his attackers.

“Safe Citizen is an android app created to enhance public safety and security.

When taking a boda boda, matatu, or a taxi, you are now able to verify the identity of the rider or driver using this app.”

A user only needs to download the app and register. They will receive an identity Quick Response (QR) Code unique to them, and which changes every time it is scanned to further secure the user’s profile.

Personal information collected from users includes full names, photo, country, county or state, or district (depending on the country), date of birth, email address, phone number, and gender. 

Every rider and driver on the platform has a Safe Citize tag with a QR code. 

Once a user scan the driver’s or rider’s  QR Code, their identity is displayed. The platform gives a user the ability to save this identity into their profile history.

That the driver’s or rider’s identity is known is believed to discourage any negative action or intent for fear of consequences.

Card alternative

“There are thugs and criminal riders who hide within the boda boda, PSV, and taxi sectors with the aim of taking advantage of unsuspecting passengers.

Their plans succeed because their identities remain hidden. But with the app, this will come to an end because once the identity is recorded, it serves as deterrence against any harmful action this person may take,” he explains.

Since they were targeting boda bodas and taxis for the pilot project, they recently expanded the platform to the matatu sector.

Each vehicle using this platform has a unique code displayed of two stickers in the vehicle.

Passengers use this vehicle identity code  to identify the matatu they choose to ride in.

Other details made available include vehicle registration, colour, seating capacity, Sacco/association/company, names of the driver, photo, and mobile number.

This information can also be saved into your profile history for future reference.

“All vehicles on the Mololine fleet are now using this platform. The best thing about our application is that when travelling in a matatu, you are able to monitor the speed of the vehicle directly on the app.

This has been of benefit to many passengers and ensured adherence to highway safety regulations,” Ronald says.

During this sensitive period of public health and social distancing, the app is also helping people to avoid contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

Since every user is issued with a QR code unique to their identity, there is no need to write down the identity details of visitors at security checkpoints.

The platform provides a premises security checkpoint portal where the identities of all visitors to the building or institution are automatically recorded.

“The app also has the ability to flag underage persons. This function is exceptionally useful to parents and law enforcement.

It controls and monitors access to areas or commercial establishments such as pubs and places engaging in alcohol consumption.”

Currently, they have 1,500 registered users and somewhat 800 daily active users. Though growth has been slow, they hope to expand with more outreach resources.

They also wish to create a security platform where every citizen has an identity acceptable at every form of security checkin every country around the world.

“I chose to delve into personal identification solutions because just like WhatsApp makes international communication cheap for everyone, I believe that a digital tool can be created to address safety and security issues.

Though no technology is perfect, I think it can go a long way to give people a tool that aids their safety without having to rely on law enforcement,” Ronald posits.

To ensure that the innovation is not only available to those with smartphones only, they have also developed a card that works exactly the same as the app.  

For the card, when a user registers, their identity is assigned a unique QR Code that is installed onto the back of the card. It provides a universal identity like an item barcode at the supermarket.

Once the user visits any premises using the platform for security checks, the card QR Code is scanned to identify the person.

The card can also be used by any person with a smartphone with the convenience of not having to take your phone out of your pocket.