Mobile Alert – a Citizen Crowdsourcing Application used to Report Incidents, launched in India

Hexagon Geospatial a leading global geospatial software provider has launched Mobile Alert in India at the ongoing India Geospatial Forum 2014 in Hyderabad. The mobile application was available in western countries since late 2013. Over 75 local governments worldwide are using this solution. It’s a known fact that several of us, the citizens want to report incidents – big or small to concerned local bodies but demand simplicity in the process. This mobile app enables us to do just that.

In India, people seek anonymity, speed in reporting and speedy resolution for complaints. This however is difficult to achieve without a neat IT infrastructure in place. Hexagon Geospatial’s objective is to do away with these issues – simplify the reporting process for citizens and simplify the process of deriving actionable information for local governments. The citizen facing side is a lightweight application which is readily available in Google Play and iTunes.

mobile_alert

On the citizen side, reporting an incident just takes few taps on the mobile touch screen with the intuitive interface. Once GPS is turned on and the application is started,

  1. User takes a picture of the incident – can be anything like pothole on the road, missing/non-functional streetlights, broken signage etc.
  2. In the second screen, user is allowed to choose the type of incident from a wheel like interface as noted in above step and proceed to next screen
  3. Here the user can choose to enter minimal details about the incident
  4. The last screen shows the incident location over a map (Bing Maps). User can choose to refine the location and then click ‘Send’ to submit the incident

In whole, the entire process will not take more than a couple of minutes.

On the administration side, the responsible agency need not setup any IT infrastructure to provide this facility to citizens.

  1. All system configuration, support, and maintenance is performed by Hexagon Geospatial for each subscribing organization.
  2. Incidents are stored as geospatial data in cloud-hosted service and Hexagon Geospatial will route the incidents to the right agency
  3. Continuous monitoring, maintenance, and updating of hosted back-end systems is handled by Hexagon Geospatial
  4. Email alerts with necessary information like location, URL to the photo, accuracy of used device’s GPS, nearest landmark etc. to concerned personnel
  5. Depending on the subscription model, web browser based portal access, ability to update the incident status etc. will be available.
  6. If the subscribing agency already has a GIS in place, option will also be available to update incidents in their existing system

Overall if the application gains necessary reception in India, this can certainly change the way Government agencies and local bodies like municipalities work. It must be noted that such incident reporting mechanisms are available in India through web, but are limited to certain cities (a citizen has to fill in lot of info which is a drawback on its own). With growing smart phone penetration, a simple mobile app of this nature is certainly appreciated. Hope concerned Indian agencies take note of this and decide to empower the citizens.

Disclosure: I work for Hexagon Geospatial in Hyderabad

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  • Yogesh February 8, 2014 3:54 pm

    @ Rama , really u r in 12th? U have so much information n knowledge yaar! Nd yes my android mobile is of ‘spice’. Even some handsets of samsung also require manual settings. How ur name is include in analyst/critics ? Is any special procedure for that? N ur 12th board exams n cets? Here maharashtra SSC exams form 22nd feb. All the best for exams.Again thanks for reply.

    • Rama February 8, 2014 4:53 pm

      @yogesh
      Yeah bro m in 12 th and my exams only start from 1 st march.My school is affiliated to CBSE.The thing is ever since I was small child I was addicted to tech.I clearly remember that when my dad bought his very first symbian device I was the one who was most excited in my house.My father bought his first phone around 7 years ago when i was in 4th.My father was not able to figure out how to compose a message or sms.One day he left his phone at home and went to work.I took the device at 10.00 am and kept fiddling with it till 7.00pm.I dint even have my lunch that day.Finally when my dad came home I said him “this is how you compose a sms” and he was stunned.I have been reading loads and loads of tech articles from 7th standard.All my comments are based on all those articles I have read for the past 5 years and keep reading ona daily basis.As far as me being a critic is concerned I really have no idea when and how did that happen.I am not at all good at telecom but as far as tech is concerned I can make some reasonable comments.

      • Yogesh February 8, 2014 6:29 pm

        Rama u r brilliant. @such a young age u ve so tech knoledge! Fantastic. All the best to ur next exams u will get good college like nit. I ve qulified in Gate.@south india tech persons r best.Nice to ve interaction with u. Keep posting on tt.

  • Yogesh Sarvade February 7, 2014 10:06 pm

    @Suvham, what is this sailfish? I read about jolla os. But again for that new os i ve to invest my money . Already i told, this 6k is my 2 years saving. N na this my nokia 2690 battery last for 2 days though 3 years old. N it gives me good speed on 2g also. I have no choice but to wait for 7 months more to root this android to keep warranty. Me too not use android for call n also i keep alternate no sim only so no much contacts.Permanent sim i use in this nokia 2690. I am from maharashtra n u? Again thanks for reply.

  • Rama February 7, 2014 9:34 pm

    @breaking
    According to latest rumors micormax is planning to bring a windows phone to the market with a dual core qualcomm processor,512 mb ram,4 inch display,840*480 p resoultion,5 mp camera and a price tag of 7k.I guess hardly is anyone gonna consider mmx’s offering when nokia lumia 520 is available for a 8k and definitely would have an edge over mmxs offering.But anyways more choice is always agood thing.

  • Yogesh Sarvade February 7, 2014 7:28 pm

    @RAMA,thanks for elaborating these things. And yes few days back i was continuously recieving emails about special offers for new mobile handsets. Now i understand just i search something they store that n then send advertise. And more thing is na even if i have to start this android phone google ask me to enter gmail id n password else i cant even start it. And after that without signing in i recieve emails, n no way to sign out through this gmail app . So i created new email id which s not my primary email id. As no log out option in gmail i was feeling insecure because i ve register for debit card redeem info via email. Once again thanks Rama.

    • Rama February 7, 2014 9:40 pm

      @yogesh
      happy to help and yeah google does even leak our info to advertisers which is the reason you got mails regarding phones.Otherwise how did a company like ebay know that I’m looking for a windows phone device when the search was performed on google.

      • Yogesh February 8, 2014 10:50 am

        @Rama,n one more thing is na i cant get auto settings for internet in this android,rather i ve to make manual settings. While in my nokia 2690 i instantly recieve auto settings from same operator. Well if u r ok with it, can u tell me what is your profession?I think u r an etx engineer. I am student of E&TC engineering . I ve done diploma n now doing degree. N u r from Chennai metro city na? Again thanks for replying me.

        • Rama February 8, 2014 2:53 pm

          @yogesh
          I really don’t know about internet settings as its something related to telecom in which I am not good.But I guess if one has a popular handset from a branded manufacturer they can instantly or automatically get the internet settings but if your handset is not very popular and made by some local companies like mmx,karbonn etc then you would have to get the internet settings manually.Bro I aint working currently.I do live in chennai and I am just a class 12 student thats it.I probably guess I am one of the youngest commenters on TT.

  • Rama February 7, 2014 6:53 pm

    @yogesh
    Its all about money buddy.Basically companies like Google and Facebook make money through advertisments.In order to make advertisments attractive they need to know the interests of a paticular person.In order to know the interests of a paticular person they need to collect as much data as possible from him or her.All google services are designed in a manner to collect data from users.
    Take for example I am a user called “rama” whose logged on to various google services.On a paticular day if I make a search for croma store on google maps,get tech news mail by gmail and search for a product like specs of moto g on google search.At the end of the day after analysing all the data google has achieved about rama they would probably understand that rama is a tech lover.Next day if I make a search on google search I would probably see ads “like moto g available for 9k on flipkart” next to my search results and being a tech lover I would be compelled to click on that link.
    Similarly in this way Google collects and analyses data of millions of people and then gives them specific ads.
    What shuvam said is right,its best to go with symbian for privacy.

  • Yogesh Sarvade February 6, 2014 10:18 pm

    Good job Chetan sir . I have read most of your articles. You and team telecomtalk doing great work for us . Sir i want you to raise an issue of ‘Mobile App asking for personal information of users. ‘ Sir facebook,youtube and many such apps on google play store ask for confidential details of user : Such as to access data in phone , sms , contacts , location. What youtube n facebook have to do with this ? And no any option available to restrict them for only a certain permission such as network. I have read in times of india that NIA spying on this data n ask these fb n youtube about peoples personal information. I have disabled most of these apps as i dont want my info to be spyed. Hope you will raise this issue. And second thing is sir when we check balance or use web portal for e g tata dive in, these telecom operators promote erotic images,text, messaging which a user dont willing to. It is not good for underage users and not for youth also. Many users include women n elder citizen n what these operators promote is highly objectional. Hope you or Shrikapardhi sir will raise these two issues in next articles. Daily reader of telecom talk.

    • Rama February 6, 2014 10:53 pm

      @yogesh
      Whatever you have said is absolutely correct.I have myself raised the issue of privacy several times when it comes to android.In the past google had released something called app ops which was basically a permission manager app.app ops would let you set what apps can have access to what parts of a device.But in recent updates google has removed app ops for reasons best known to google.Currently if you want privacy on android devices you would need to root them and install something like cyanogen mod which would protect you from NSA spying and help you control permissions for various apps.ios also gives you the opportunity to control app permissions but ios may not be able to protect you from NSA spying.as far as i have seen tt generally does articles only on smart phones and does not come up with topics of general interest like privacy on android etc etc.

      • Yogesh Sarvade February 7, 2014 12:49 am

        @Rama,thanks for support.I used Nokia 2690 for last 3 years which i still love.And at last purchase android phone in sep 13.This just 5 months,if i root,i ll loose warranty.Rama i read all your comments,and like most of them.As a student i cant afford to have lavish,expensive phones.I purchased this Android phone @6k which is my 2 years saving,just because i dont have pc n wanted to have a device with ms office n pdf document viewer.But it is highly irritating that this google n most of these app wants to keep a watch on my sms,phone call records,contacts.Why give them access to my personal n confidential info?again what do these app,companies do?They sell this information to 3rd party and earn money,profit.And as revieled by wikileakes n snoden,NIA spy on us via this way.I disable max app n uninstal update.i stop google play store use now.Rather i use websites now.In my nokia which has java support i had no such issue.I want telecomtalk to atleast highlight this issue.Hope they will.

        • Rama February 7, 2014 11:59 am

          @yogesh
          I agree with you bro probably there is no way to control the permissions accessed by a app on normal android.In order to take control of permission accessed by a app one has to root his or her device.But as you said rooting would void the warranty and make your device even more suceptible to malware and some of these malware are not even removable

          ( tomsguide.com/us/android-malware-reinstall-itself,news-18259.html)

          I probably guess the main reason why google removed app ops was because even their business model works in a similar manner which is gather as much info as possible about a user from the various google services and then give the users targeted ads.So if google earns money in this they can’t stop even developers from doing so.
          According to me windows phone is also somewhat ok in privacy after seeing this link

          ( windowsphone.stackexchange.com/questions/2356/how-can-i-set-access-permission-for-apps)

          ios is really secure and lets you manage permissions but I believe it can’t prtect you from NSA spying.But according to me the NSA only collects data for national security which is not as bad as developers collecting data without permission and exploiting them commercially especially on android.
          At the end of the day if you want to stay really really secure I would recommend you go for symbian.Given its low market share as well as the way in which it has been built hardly does anyone including the NSA target symbian devices for malware or exploitation.
          As far as TT is concerned I don’t think they would raise such issues because its basically a telecom website with tech articles on smartphones popping here and there.

        • Suvham February 7, 2014 3:29 pm

          Unfortunately, you need to use an old basic phone if you don’t want to be spied via the NSA (National Security Agency) through applications. Even I have disabled all the Google applications from my phone, restricted background data and auto sync for privacy concerns. I have a Micromax X263 (basic phone) on which I have all my contacts, files and I use it for calling only so basically no spying. On my Android phone, I have disabled all the Google applications, background data and auto sync. I use applications and then uninstall them when I am done. Use only a handful of applications which you use, don’t store confidential information on your Android, for Gmail and YouTube, use the website version, don’t let Google applications run in the background and if possible carry a old basic phone with yourself for storing your files and contacts. That’s all you need to do if you don’t want to be spied. Nowadays even simple games are asking for ridiculous permissions, so be careful.

          • Yogesh Sarvade February 7, 2014 4:20 pm

            @Suvham,thanks for guidelines,It is nice to see atleast there are certain people like you and Rama who are aware of these things n guiding me.But what is this,why google,fb and even video player wants to keep a track on me even if i am offline?I cant understand this.and me too have disabled max app,limit background data,n turn off auto sync.And again another thing is that not even a single app in android store has proper extit button.My phone has Ram of 512MB,n even if i havent open any app still about 300MB ram is full n some background activity on.And it reduce my phone battery even on standby which is 1.5 A.ALSO data doesnt last long, even 2 g, n 2 times my main balance got reduced due to these background activity n was cursing my operator for that,actually these back activity eat a lot data n slow down my phone.I am just fed up.

            • Rama February 7, 2014 5:20 pm

              @yogesh
              Its all about money dude.Basically companies like Facebook and Google make their money by ads.In order to make their ads attractive to their users they need to know what are the interests of a user so they can display relevant ads and the user would be more compelled to click on such an ad.In order to know the interests of a user its necessary to collect data about him or her.All google services are designed in a way that would help Google collect more and more information about a user.
              For example I am a user called rama who has logged on to all the services provided by google.So supposing on a given day if I use my google maps to search a croma store.I use my gmail to get daily tech news and use google to search the specs of a device called motorola g.At the end of the day after analysing all the data google has gathered from it various services about the user “rama”.Google comes to know that rama is someone interested in tech,so the next time when I search something on google I would see ads next to my search and since Google knows that I am tech junkie it would display “relevant” ads like “moto g available on ebay for just 9k”.Now being a tech junkie I would be compelled to click on that ad.Like this Google collects and analyses data of thousands of its users and displays ads relevant to them.Unlike TVs where ads are more or less general,ads produced by companies like Google would be more specific to a single user because of the data they have in hand from their various services.This is the reason why Google and facebook continuously keep collecting data so that they come to know even more about a user and display ads which are even more specific.What shuvam has said is true,in order to be completely safe from spying its better to use a mobile OS whith limited market share such as symbian.

            • Suvham February 7, 2014 9:16 pm

              I can understand as I’m in the same boat as you. My phone is having 1 GB RAM out of which only about 500 MB is free and that too after disabling all the Google applications. I don’t understand why a Video player wanna require permission to my contacts. Recently, there was a news about NSA extracting user data through Angry Birds game. Maybe, Google is allowing app developers to put ridiculous permissions to their applications such as access to contacts, read text messages, read/write browser history, take pictures without you knowing, etc., which would then go to Google and Google would then spam you with advertisements or maybe the collected data would go to NSA. My battery drops very quickly even on stand by and my 2G data get exhausted very soon (sometimes the operator deducts MB balance) . Google has a history of spying. I’m fed up with Android OS too and looking for an alternative open source smartphone OS such as Sailfish OS.