Crime fighting? There’s an app for that.
Hailing a taxi after a long night of drinking is the responsible thing to do, but is it always the safest? “Taxi Seguro” (Safe Taxi), a new phone application that seeks to prevent taxi crimes by Colombian-based software company Foonkie Monkey Solutions, is trying to give passengers some peace of mind.
Latin American countries, like Colombia and Mexico, remain wary of a rising trend in crime -- "paseos millonarios” (Millionaire Rides) or “secuestros exprés” (Express Kidnappings). These taxi rides take a turn for the worse as passengers are driven around the city, forced to max out their bank cards at ATMs. While many avoid hailing cabs, opting to call a taxi service instead, “Taxi Seguro” offers an alternative.
The application allows passengers to track their cab’s route using GPS, determine the approximate duration of the ride, enter the license plate and take a picture of the driver’s credentials. All of the information is made available on taxiseguroapp.com to be shared with others at the passengers’ discretion and can also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
"We were looking for a partnership that would allow alerts via text message,” Carlos Rosales, chief creative officer of Foonkie Monkey, told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
A “panic” button is included to alert authorities and trusted friends that the app user is in danger. And if users can't reach their phone, the alert will automatically be sent out if the taxi notably goes off route or the ride take longer than estimated.
According to El Tiempo, since its launch, “Taxi Seguro” has received almost 16,000 downloads from Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Chile, Australia, Venezuela, France and the U.S.
The application is compatible with iPhones and Blackberrys and is available free of cost.
The application, however, isn’t the first in its class. Last year, a Mexican software company introduced "Taxiaviso," an application with similar capabilities that only functioned within Mexico.
Colombia has also seen other similar initiatives to fight this type of crime, most notably at denunciealtaxista.com and on Twitter. The service allows you to tweet @denuncietaxista (report a taxi driver) with the license plate and either a #taxiseguro (safe taxi) hashtag to ask if the taxi has been previously reported or #denuncio (report) hashtag to report the taxi driver.
Also on HuffPost:
Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigrant
Boston-based developer Owlchemy Labs irked immigrant advocate groups with this iPhone game that allows users to drive a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/smuggle-truck-operation-immigration-rejected-by-apple_n_854899.html" target="_hplink">truck full of immigrants</a> through the desert. According to the AP, "[Developer Alex] Schwartz said he wanted to bring attention to immigration issues." But Apple banned the app from the App Store.
U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Tom Udall and Harry Reid pressured Apple, Google and RIM earlier this spring to remove smartphone apps that notify users of nearby police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/senators-ask-apple-to-ban-dui-checkpoint-alert-apps_n_839300.html" target="_hplink">DUI checkpoints</a>. Apple and RIM have since <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/apple-dui-checkpoint-apps-ban_n_874532.html" target="_hplink">complied</a> with the Seantors' demands and cracked on so-called "DUI checkpoint" apps, but Google has yet to take action.
Despite initially passing Apple's standards, the allegedly anti-gay messages promoted by the app "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/apple-exodus-international-app_n_839448.html" target="_hplink">Exodus International</a>" outraged thousands of customers. The Exodus International ministry, from which the app takes its name, <a href="http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/http://blog.exodusinternational.org/about/" target="_hplink">promotes</a> "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." After more than 150,000 signatures were gathered for an online petition, Apple removed the app from the App Store entirely.
Hugh Hefner claimed in January that "Playboy" would soon come <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/21/playboy-ipad-app-blocked-_n_812489.html" target="_hplink">uncensored on the iPad</a>. Apple, however, remains firm on its nudity-free policy within the App Store and forced "Playboy" to resort to a low resolution web app instead.
The <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/20/apple-removes-wikileaks-app-from-app-store/" target="_hplink">unofficial WikiLeaks application</a> lasted only three days in the App Store before being banned by Apple.
'The Importance Of Being Earnest'
Apparently Apple's censors worried that Tom Bouden's graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde's <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/14/apple-censors-gay-kiss-in_n_611553.html" target="_hplink">The Importance of Being Earnest</a></em>, which portrays illustrations of nude or partially nude men embracing, would be too objectionable for too many users. Apple approved the app, but only with black boxes covering controversial frames. However, the App Store later reversed its decision and passed the app without the censor bars.
Big Brother Camera Security
In 2010, Apple approved the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/apple-bans-big-brother-camera-security-iphone-passcodes_n_877481.html" target="_hplink">Big Brother Camera Security app</a>, which lets users remotely photograph someone who is improperly trying to access their stolen or lost iPhone. In June 2010, however, the app was removed from the App Store following accusations that the developer was "surreptitiously harvesting user passwords."
Apple removed the app called "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/23/apple-removes-anti-israel-thirdintifada-app_n_882857.html" target="_hplink">ThirdIntifada</a>" from the App Store, following complaints made by Israel's information minister, Yuli Edelstein and Jewish human rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center. The app was said to promote violence against Israel, according to claims.
Apple initially approved so-called "anti-gay" app <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/24/apple-manhattan-declaration-app_n_788075.html" target="_hplink">Manhattan Declaration</a>, but the App Store later removed the program following a wave of complaints--and a petition--from outraged customers. The app asked users to sign a "declaration," which according to the app "speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty."