Monrovia – With crime and deaths due to the lack of medical emergencies at an all-time high in Liberia, a new mobile app technology being launched Monday is aiming to introduce an emergency 911-style service with the goal of helping Liberians deal with everyday crimes and emergency situations.
An annual report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), created by the US Secretary of State to promote an open dialogue between the U.S. Government and the American private sector on security issues abroad, has listed Liberia at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Exercise increased caution in urban areas and public beaches due to crime.
Crime at Critical Level
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Monrovia as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Crime remained at a critical level throughout the country in 2019, owing to growing public discontent with Liberia’s faltering economy. Reports of home and residential compound invasions increased, as did violent robberies in populated areas.
Crimes resulting in the use of lethal force have also increased. Crimes of this nature tend to target local nationals, not foreigners. Violent crimes consist of robberies, burglaries, muggings, and assaults. The perpetrators, usually carrying a knife or firearm, often use force even when the victim complies with the assailant’s demands, a practice that was uncommon during previous years.
According to the report, home invasions continue to plague local nationals at higher levels; particularly in outlying areas of Monrovia lacking community security organizations. Most home invasions occur overnight, between 0100-0400, and usually involve multiple armed assailants using a combination of homemade guns or semi-automatic weapons.
The dawn of the My Watchman app is looking to change those perceptions.
The app is a registered trademark of Advanced Converged Technologies LLC (ACT), a technology company with regional offices Liberia. It is a reliable, easy to use SOS / 911 Mobile App with 24/7 secured monitoring and emergency dispatch command center,” says Oliver Wleh Klark Jr. Chief Founder and Executive Officer of Advanced Advanced Converged Technologies LLC.
App aiming to Raise the Bar
Mr. Klark explains that the service will no doubt raise the bar for Liberia. “When you have medical or fire emergency, or when your personal safety is threatened, need roadside assistance, push a button on your app and our command center is instantly alerted. We will call immediately you and promptly dispatch emergency responders based on your SOS.”
According to Klark, the idea originated from a personal experience he encountered in 2015. “My girlfriend had a security emergency and she called me in the middle of the night; TERRIFIED! When I arrived with help, the robbers had left. Now, married with kids and aging parents, coupled with constant travels, I always have this anxiety that if there was an emergency, I would be unable to help my family. I wanted that peace of mind, that no matter where I was, my family was secured and had access to critical services in case of emergency.”
Klark says the company’s initial approach was to design a weaponized camera that could be controlled from your phone via an app but while trying to secure funding for the invention, he says, he and his team realized that only a small segment of society would be able to afford the cameras.
Klark explains: “That was not what we set out to do. We wanted a solution that could be available to everyone. Then it hit us! With the app, we have been able to solve a lot more than just the security problem. The app puts access to critical emergency services at your fingertips. When you take a step back and look at the larger society there is a significant need to build a tangible and perceptive sense of security for citizens, investors, tourists, etc. This is critical to create a glide path to a stable and growing economy.”
My Watchman currently offers four (4) services. The four (4) services offered are Security Emergency Response Service, Medical Emergency Response Service, Fire Emergency Response Service, and SGBV Hotline, and Emergency Response Service. All our subscribers, regardless of their plan, will have access to all the services offered. Roadside Assistance will be launched in March 2021 and the cameras will be introduced later as a value-added component of the app.
Targeting 10-Minute Response Time
Regarding the response users can anticipate for using the app, Mr. Klark says, he and his team have been able to respond to most SOS under 10 minutes. “In very rare instances have our response time elapsed 12 minutes.”
In order to deliver service effectively and efficiently, Mr. Klark says, the operation requires key and strategic partnerships with private and government entities alike.
For Security Emergency Response Service¸ the organization has partnered with Pilot Security Consultancy, headed by Mr. Abraham Kromah, former Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations, R.L. Pilot Security is the primary security emergency response provider.
Klark says the security response unit is divided into zones and are mobile. “For our Medical Emergency Response, we have partnered with the Ministry of Health (Emergency Management Team) and private ambulance service providers. This network of ambulances gives us the ability to promptly respond to medical emergencies raised from our app. For our Fire Emergency Response, we have the new, improved, and decentralized Liberia National Fire Service. Through our partnership, we have enabled the Liberia National Fire Service decentralization goal by helping with the renovation of the Point Four/Bong Mines Bridge Fire Station and the Steven Tolbert Estate Fire Station and the placement of fire engines at those locations and three other locations including Sinkor, Rehab Road, and Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
Strong Partnership Will Drive Response
For Roadside Assistance, he says, the group has partnered with a network of service providers including gas stations, tire repair shops, mechanics, and tow trucks.
Asked how he intends to to convince subscribers that the app can be an effective tool for users in Liberia, Mr. Klark asserts that the most effective feature of the My Watchman App is locationality. “When you call for help, responders will know your precise location and you will know who is responding to your SOS and an ETA. We utilize a network of service providers, mostly private entities, spread across our coverage area.”
Regarding the reach of the app’s capabilities, Mr. Klark says the app is designed to work from anywhere but will for now, be restricted specified ‘response’ areas (Montserrado and parts of Margibi).
Klark says, a key function of the app is the ability raise an SOS on an address that the users are not physically present at, as long as that address is within the response area. “For example, I could be at work or out of the country and raise an SOS at my home address.”
My Watchman currently has three (3) packages. The three (3) packages offered are: Single ($20); Family ($30) and Village ($50)
Mr. Klark says that once users signup for the app, within the next 3 months, they will get the first month free.
For more information, go to our website, www.my-watchman.com. You can download the app on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store..