Sara Wahedi saved lives with her mobile app

Sara Wahedi saved lives with her mobile app

Technologist and human rights activist Sara Wahedi (28) has made security her life’s mission. He created the Ehtesab digital app – a verified, monitored platform that shares real-time emergency information with residents of Kabul, Afghanistan. This digital application has become a lifeline, especially for women and girls since the Taliban took control of the country in 2021, as they can get reliable information about the danger around them. Wahedi is an Afghan citizen who moved to Canada when he was six years old, but has returned to the country for work over the years. When he’s not working full-time running his New York lean start-up, Wahedi attends Columbia University, where he’s pursuing a dual degree in data science and urban studies. During a virtual meeting with her colleagues in Kabul and a break between classes, she shared how she decided to use digital technology to protect people, especially women and girls, from violence in Afghanistan.

Why did you decide to create Ehtesab?

We shot daily and exploded daily. On May 8, 2018, I was walking home from work from the presidential office in Kabul, and about a block from my house, there was a little commotion about someone in a vest on the street, and within seconds, there was an explosion. And then only after that there were explosions for the next twelve hours right in front of my home. We later learned that it was an ISIS attack on an Indian visa office. And a light bulb went off in my head and I thought, why is there no device in a war-torn country to warn people of attacks? And that’s the day I started thinking about how to solve this problem. Technology knows no boundaries and that’s what’s amazing about it.

See also  There's an app (or three) for that.

Is there a meaning behind the app name?

Ehtesab is a cognate word loosely derived from Dari and Pashto. It means transparency, accountability and responsibility. It was important that the word was relatable to everyone.

How does the app work?

It provides Kabul residents with real-time alerts on everything from power outages to explosions, public demonstrations and shootings. The app tracks these incidents and updates them by sending them to the user’s phone after they’ve been verified. There is a lot of interest among young people using the app, who send us reports about what is happening near them. We’re very direct, very concise, but we’re giving information that we know will help women. We put a lot of emphasis on monitoring roadblocks, because this is currently one of the difficulties for women in accessing safe movement. So, if there is an alarm due to traffic, road closures, blocks, we will try to deliver these alerts as soon as possible.

Who works with you?

My whole fantastic, amazing team is all based in Afghanistan and 50 percent of them are women. We all believe in the fundamental human right of access to information. And very few know that this is a right enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. And that’s what we’re passionate about because we know that access to information is a really important key to decision making, especially at the community level. I truly believe that the most sustainable and impactful projects are those that have experience in these areas and those that truly understand this technology and can participate in it. My team feels the same way.

See also  Downtown Club adds a new avatar to window shopping through the app

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *