Security has always been a sensitive issue, but the 2020 pandemic drove this point further in the minds of Nigerians. The lockdown came with its attendant security issues, with a rise in theft and other crimes. All of these combined to emphasise how one’s access to the right data can better inform decision making.
In the midst of this, Towntalk Solutions is driving ‘Area’ – a community application that will enhance information gathering, verification, and provide emergency responses in several communities.
Disun Veracruz, the Chief Operating Officer at Towntalk Solutions Inc, was a guest on the Nairametrics Business Half Hour where he explained how the Area app was going to drive digital data penetration in developing countries like Nigeria.
As a technology company, Towntalk has over the last couple of years, been focused on gathering data in Africa and making available the needed technology for client companies to process and use the data.
“What we realized is that the lack of data in Africa not just hinders development, but it heightens anxiety and uncertainty especially in areas like security where there is a huge data gap. Towntalk is focused on filling that gap and making that data easily available to Africans. We want to democratize data for safety, progress and generally to make it easier for us to live our day to day lives,” Disun explained.
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A lone niche with lots of partner communities
Towntalk is clearing the path in an area that no other firm in Nigeria has trodden, but this means that instead of competition, the company has a lot of challenges in breaking new grounds.
The Area community app is available for download on Playstore. Individuals can download it, share what is going on in their environs, access verified data, and also access emergency contacts they can reach in emergencies like fire outbreaks, floods, ambulance for health emergencies and others.
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“The name Towntalk was coined because we are trying to gather and verify data, we want to hear what people in the town are talking about and use that data to create a safer society and better lifestyle for all. Even the name Area is also a call to action to get everyone in on this vision,” Disun explained.
To do this effectively, Towntalk is now partnering with existing communities like journalists, security experts, service providers and workers in remote areas as well as other enablers. In addition to the internal intelligence team at Towntalk, this network will help to verify data, ensure speedy responses, and also hopes to provide some respite to victims too.
The app already has emergency contacts for traffic and road-related issues like accidents and vehicle breakdown.
From a little attempt to fill the data gap during the 2018 /19 elections, Towntalk has gone ahead to apply its data solutions in other areas such as traffic reduction in the last three years. This extends also to food security as access to data can help in the safe and successful transportation of food across the country. Now, Towntalk is trying to democratize data by creating a trusted ecosystem where people can confidently share and verify data, and also access emergency contacts which could save lives.
How Area operates
Individuals start with downloading the app and signing up. They can then participate by sharing information about what is happening around them, and verifying data. They also get to access emergency contacts which can be linked to the SOS feature on mobile devices and be activated in emergencies.
As the shared data gets verified by the geo-location and intelligence team, credible users are rewarded with points and tokens which promotes them to become Area champions, and they can also trade in these tokens for other services and solutions on the Area app.
Towntalk has taken care to ensure that its product passes every regulatory requirement both on the local and international scene, and is also engaging with some organizations to fill the gap in how people view and access safety within the community.