Afghans use Citizen-style public security app to dodge violence in Kabul

As the Taliban enforces their draconian rule in Kabul, city residents are turning to a crowdsourced public safety app to evade violence, checkpoints and other threats.

The app called “That’s right“Gives iPhone and Android users real-time updates on emergencies in the 4.4 million city that fell to the Taliban last week. It bears a strong resemblance to Citizen, the controversial public safety app popular in US cities like New York and Los Angeles, which also sends security alerts to nearby users.

Ehtesab – which means “accountability” in Dari and Pashto – was first introduced in March 2020, but has grown in importance during the Taliban’s resurgence. The app’s fact checkers scour social media and user-submitted reports to review emergencies and then send notifications to users who are nearby, 26-year-old founder and CEO Sara Wahedi told The Post.

Wahedi said usage increased in recent weeks when the Taliban captured Kabul. Ehtesab’s 20 employees, many of whom are women, have made every effort to keep the app running while working from home to avoid possible Taliban crackdown.

“We are focusing on the immediate capacity we have, which is to continue our work in crisis mode,” said Wahedi. “I just hope the app won’t shut down.”

Ehtesab’s founder and CEO Sara Wahedi fled Afghanistan earlier this summer. ehtesab.af

On Monday, Ehtesab issued warnings on a Fatal shots at the gate of Kabul airport and traffic jams.

In order not to attract the Taliban’s attention, Ehtesab refrains from referring directly to the Taliban in his security warnings. Instead of explicitly writing that militants are threatening people at a roadblock, the app can instead warn drivers that there is a checkpoint in a certain area that will lead to a traffic jam, which can be presented as a non-political traffic report.

As a businesswoman who worked for the former US-backed Afghan government for two years, Wahedi himself would be a potential target for Taliban retaliation. She left Afghanistan for Canada earlier this summer when the Taliban rose and moved to New York City over the weekend to do a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

Like the US Citizen app, Ehtesab provides emergency alerts across Kabul.ehtesab.af

“I didn’t want to be stuck in Afghanistan,” said Wahedi. “I feel guilty that my friends and family are still there.”

Wahedi said she does not know if she will ever be allowed to return and is doing her best to help the rest of the Ehtesab staff leave the country. All pictures of female employees have been removed from the app’s website and social media channels to avoid reprisals by the Taliban.

The founder said the Citizen public safety app was a “great inspiration” for her and said she hopes to work with someone in the New York-based public safety app to make Ehtesab better.

Ehtesab is available for iOS and Android.ehtesab.af

But while Citizen collects most of its emergency reports by hiring employees to eavesdrop on 911 scanners for specific districts or neighborhoods, Kabul lacks a similarly centralized system. Instead, Ehtesab hires employees to search social media for reports of particular emergencies in Kabul. One worker reports explosions, another reports power outages and a third reports the situation at the airport, Wahedi said.

Ehtesab and Citizen also differ in terms of visual language and sound.

“Citizen is black and dark and red and yellow and emergency colors. When you look at that, you have that kind of fear, ”said Wahedi. “I didn’t mean to fetishize security.”

In contrast, Ehtesab uses more cheerful colors like white and blue, which Wahedi says are supposed to be more calming and calming.

Citizen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to Wahedi, Ehtesab has grown solely through word of mouth in recent weeks. In the future, she wants to find out how to expand the service to more Kabul residents without attracting the Taliban’s attention.

“There may be a point where Ehtesab is an app that everyone downloads, but what if the Taliban check and search people’s phones to see if they have downloaded the app?” She said. “It will take some time to figure out how we can do this without endangering the lives of our users.”

An employee from Ehtesab only takes care of the situation at Kabul airport.ZUMA24.com

State cash earmarked for ‘boots on the bottom’ efforts to curb Buffalo gun violence

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – Four Buffalo state lawmakers are pouring more money onto the streets of Queen City to curb violence. On Tuesday, Senators Tim Kennedy and Sean Ryan and Reps Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Jon Rivera announced that $ 200,000 raised during the state budget process has been allocated to Buffalo Peacemakers and the Stop the Violence Coalition.

“This money will go a long way in helping the peacemakers and stopping the violence to create just that: peace,” said Senator Kennedy.

Peace is urgently needed. According to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, there were 49 homicides in Buffalo as of Tuesday, 2021. With that, the city is on track to hit a record 94 murders from 1994.

Pastor James Giles, who heads Back to Basics Ministries, said the state money would be used to hire people to provide local community involvement.

“We’re not looking for administrative stuff. We have administrative help, ”said Giles. “We’re looking for boots on the ground.”

Meanwhile, James P. Kennedy, the US attorney for the Western District of New York, is preparing to meet with staff from the Stop the Violence Coalition and Back to Basics on Wednesday to discuss efforts to reduce gun violence. Kennedy has already announced the creation of a task force to aim to reduce violence through more targeted enforcement and state law enforcement.

US Attorney Kennedy says it is critical that the community understand the goal.

“We target members of the community for their behavior and these extreme acts of violence,” Kennedy said. “There’s a reason law enforcement can focus there because that’s where the violence takes place.”

The meeting will take place on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Back to Basics office on William St. Members of the community are very welcome.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning presenter and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work Here.

‘Excessive $5 For Dads’ occasion raises cash for home violence outreach, training

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Father’s Day is just around the corner and the Domestic Violence Action Center is accepting donations in honor of the father.

On Saturday June 12th, a drive-by donation page was held in Kaka’ako as part of the “High $ 5 For Dads” campaign.

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People were encouraged to donate $ 5 or more to help outreach and raise awareness about domestic violence.

“If you are a prisoner of an abusive partner or parent, it is dangerous. Now, however, good fathers are doing what they can to protect their families in partnership with their good mothers. “

Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center


Hostage at home: COVID-19 and domestic violence

“And since men are the culprits in most cases, we have to tell the boys: stop beating your wives and girlfriends,” said Honolulu prosecutor Steve Alm. “Stop trying to control them. Be a good role model for your children. “

Domestic Violence Action Center holds sign-waving event to raise awareness

Click here to donate to the Domestic Violence Action Center.