Saudi developers create road app in bid to save lives

Hofra is a mobile app that allows users to exchange information about 20,000 road hazards. (via Hofra)

Saudi computer engineer Abdullah Hejazi and his team created “Hofra”, a mobile app that monitors road conditions and alert drivers of potholes and other impeding dangers on their route.

Created in Silicon Valley, the app has been mainly used in the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to Hejazi. It allows users to exchange information about 20,000 road hazards.

The founders say they were impelled to create the app following a fatal accident of a close relative because of a pothole on the road.

Others who have the luck of surviving are left with costly repairs and serious injuries.

“We decided to engineer the solution and came up with this application,” Hejazi told Saudi Gazette.

Following a lot of research, the team worked on a mobile app that operates on crowdsourcing that allows the community to share the responsibility of reporting road hazards.

“We strive to help governments fix the problems that people most complain about as well as be aware of the need of maintenance and improve road conditions,” he said. “The goal is to make it a stand-alone app.”

The app concerns everything to do with the road condition, including potholes, the asphalt’s condition, spilled water, abrasions and construction work.

When asked about the challenges faced, Hejazi said, “We were expecting the app to take a few weeks to develop, but — in reality — it took eight months nonstop. Our team consists of a developer, designer, project manager, and user tester. We found out so many things about roads that we didn’t know about. We went out and asked the opinion of people on the streets. We met experts and learned about potholes and maintenance.”

Hejazi said he looks forward to collaborating with municipalities in Saudi Arabia to enhance the service on a larger scale.

The Kingdom has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. Up to date, it has reportedly exceedingly reached over 170%.

“Smart devices in Saudi Arabia are in the hands of the young and the old,” he said. “However, Arabic content is very little. I wish Saudi Arabia leads the front in mobile smart technology.”

He adds, “There’s been a lot of buzz about billion-dollar companies born after 2005 that started from mobile apps. Today these companies generate a lot of money and contribute to the growth of the economy. There needs to be enough companies and startups to launch as many apps in the market for the Arab population.”

He expects the smart application market is yet to see growth over the coming years, similar to the dot-com boom.

This article in the Saudi Gazette on June 20, 2016.

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Last Update: 09:32 KSA 12:32 - GMT 09:32
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