UNESCO prepares digital application for safeguarding journalists

12Nov 2019
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
UNESCO prepares digital application for safeguarding journalists

AS threats against journalists mount across the country, region and globally, a special application has been launched to help scribes raise alarms of imminent danger right from their mobile phones to potential colleagues, security organs and family members at a go. It will work online and -

-offline as well.

The app was specifically formulated to help Journalists in Tanzania to quickly alert their loved ones and responsible organizations at any moment that they will feel they are in danger. It will also serve to trace and keep records of all cases of threats, attacks and other incidences affecting reporters, writers, photographers and other whistle-blowers.

The concept was initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which says that the application also sends the last location bearings of the victim who sent the ‘cry for help’ message. The cry is automatically dispatched in short message service (SMS) facility, and when connected to data such alerts can be delivered onto other online platforms.

Nancy Kaizilege, the head of UNESCO Media Communications Department, explained that a similar application known as ‘Salama App’ was launched in the United Kingdom and it is already working and active in the UK.

“It is not just aimed at raising alarms, but when the situation calls for it, the application also allows one to send full written text regarding cases of violation in one’s own area,” she said.

The application was designed and written by two young IT experts, Michael Kimollo and Mussa Kalokola from the Hyper Interactive Co. Ltd, a firm which produces software and applications aimed at solving problems at community levels.

“We spent two months working on the ‘Journalists’ Safety Application’ as requested by UNESCO,” they said, noting that they were optimistic that the app should be ready for all platforms by December 2019.

During a recently held meeting in Arusha, representatives from media organizations were also trained on how to use the application in assessing the probability and proximity of threats and measure the potential financial, physical or reputational damage.

While the Tanzania version of the digital ‘Journalists’ Safety Application’ is being perfected ahead of its launch next month, local scribes have been requested to suggest tentative names for it.

When all the bugs have been ironed out from the Alpha version, a Beta one will be introduced for trials, after which the complete version is to be released and made available for free downloads from Apple Store and Google Play Store for iOS and Android devices respectively.