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Rapid Response launched with Pamoja Cloud service


Rapid Response, an award winning mobile emergency application, is now available to South African mobile-users, providing a fast link to help at hand when they need it most.  Pamoja, the Cloud services business unit of Pan-African ICT enabler SEACOM, has been outsourced by Rapid Response as the Hosting Partner to provision the website, provide the relevant Cloud solutions and access to the market.

Pamoja is a provider of wholesale Cloud computing services via telecommunication companies, ISPs and other service providers in Southern and East Africa.

The Rapid Response applications, including Rapid Attack Response and Rapid Accident Response, are based on cell phone, GPS and NFC technologies, and are designed to alert emergency services and facilitate rapid response in the event of an accident or attack.

Rapid Response, which was recognized as the most-innovative submission in the ICT category in International Labour Organisation’s Enterprise Challenge in 2013, is the only application of its kind to combine mobile and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Marlize Holtzhausen, Director at Rapid Response recently returned from a Swiss sponsored Investment workshop where Rapid Response was awarded the best application prize at the Google Fest Entrepreneurship competition in July 2014, the only South African company with global recognition at this event.

“We are thrilled to bring to fruition and make available the Rapid Response application, which has significant potential to save lives through the fast deployment of appropriate emergency services resources to the right location,” Holtzhausen says.

“The combination of cell phone technology and NFC technology is unique to our mobile emergency application. Aside from activating the Rapid Response applications on a cell phone, users can also activate emergency alerts by swiping the phone over NFC tags which can be stuck throughout a house or in a vehicle. When paired with a cell phone, these tags effectively act as mini-panic buttons, activating the Rapid Response app and creating an alert of the emergency situation,” she continues.

“Given the prolific penetration of mobile phones in South Africa, and consumers’ dependence on them, Rapid Response has tremendous potential to empower everyday South Africans to summon help quickly no matter where they are,” she adds.

Recognising that children are often the only ones in a position to call for help, but not always able to do so, or explain themselves, Rapid Response created a children’s character, Rapido, that is branded on the Rapid Response NFC tags. This character is instantly recognisable and makes Rapid Response accessible to young children.

Young children, when shown where the Rapido-branded tags are situated and how to swipe phone over them, can easily raise an alarm for emergency assistance without having to dial a number or saying a word.

Rapid Response is easily activated in three ways – by manipulating the volume button on a cell phone; tapping the “I am in Trouble Button”, or by swiping any NFC tag strategically positioned around the home or a vehicle.

On activation, Rapid Response automatically generates an alert of the crisis to the ER24 Emergency call centre and pre-programmed emergency services. The application also allows personal contacts such as family or friends to be programmed so that they are immediately alerted of the emergency.

Information transmitted in alerts includes the exact location of the incident, a map linked to emergency services, and relevant insurance and medical aid details. The ER24 call centre remains in contact with the person in the emergency situation and their family throughout the crisis.

Rapid Response also provides for automatic back-up of the phone’s contents. The Rapid Response website can be used to track and trace mobile phones that have been stolen or lost even if the SIM card has been replaced or removed – provided that internet services are available in the area in which the phone is located. Members can also trace alert actions on the Rapid Response website for insurance purposes and will receive detailed reports on all actions taken by emergency services on alerts.

Rapid Response was borne from a brutal crime suffered by Holtzhausen’s own family. She developed the concept with her now business partner, Gerrit Cloete who like Holtzhausen, wanted to create a more convenient and effective way for people in peril to initiate an SOS for faster, more efficient, reaction from emergency services.

“In emergency situations, every second counts. Being able to summon assistance and direct emergency personnel to your exact location without even saying a word not only means you get the help you need faster, but it could also save your life,” says Cloete.

Rapid Response is accessible to anyone with a mobile phone – regardless of affiliation to insurance providers or medical aid.

Albie Bester, CEO at Pamoja, believes that technology has a very important role to play in supporting initiatives to empower the end-user. “This is especially true in this case where mobility leverages off the Cloud to provide a solution that adds practical value and offer reliable protection.”

“We are very proud to support this initiative and host the technology behind the service. Rapid Response is a flexible and easily accessible solution that is designed to be as practical as possible to be effective as a life-saving tool,” Bester adds.

According to Cloete, the company the significant uptake since the launch of the product in July 2014 is an indicator on the demand that exist for such an application. Rapid Response will be launching additional services during the course of 2014.

source: BizTech Africa

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