Namola: Bringing classrooms to life

We hear on a daily basis how smartphones and technology negatively affect our children. So when a teacher from KZN reached out to tell us her story, we couldn’t wait to share her idea with educators in South Africa.

Jessica*, a Geography teacher in KZN, very cleverly uses Namola as a practical tool to teach her Geography class about Geographic Information Technology.

“With the help of Namola I now have a case study for the learners to better understand and explain the use of GPS technology,” explains Jessica. “Ideally, the aim is to introduce the students to what GPS technology is as well as to use Namola to show them the way in which GPS technology is used in everyday situations.”

Jessica also encourages her students to have Namola on their smartphones and to spread the word on how Namola works to their friends and family.

“The fact that Namola is something that they can use in their lives to stay safe shows them practically how GPS technology is being used to create a highly accessible service to the South African population,” continues Jessica.

“This story is an important one to tell. Education is the most powerful tool that we have to ensure that our children grow up in a safer South Africa,” says Peter Matthaei, CEO of Namola. “The fact that Jessica is using Namola to make a textbook come to life is truly remarkable. On top of that she is educating our youth on how to get help fast in an emergency. Many other educators could learn a lot from this phenomenal teacher.”

Thank you Jessica for thinking out the box when using Namola and for equipping your students with the tools to get help fast! We give you a A+ for your effort.

Namola is the simplest way to get help fast in an emergency, anywhere in South Africa. Download Namola FREE

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How you can help Namola Agents, fast!

You too can help in an emergency, by ensuring that Namola’s Response Centre Agents get you the fastest possible help. The following are our top 3 tips on the information you can give the Namola Response Centre Agent to help them coordinate your help, even faster:

Update your profile information. We have heard your cries for cutting down the questions when we call. To do this we need you to update your Namola App and fill in the Personal Information section in your profile tab. This information helps our Response Centre Agents to get you the best and fastest emergency response. Your data is safe with us! All your personal information is 100% safe and will only be made available to the Response Centre Agent and relevant first responders when you request emergency assistance. Your personal information is never used or disclosed for any other reason.

Verify the incident. Once you have requested assistance through Namola, the Response Centre Agent needs to be able to verify your emergency type. There are two ways that you can communicate this to them. The first is by answering their phone call and the second, if you are unable to speak, is via the in-app chat feature.

Verify the location. The Response Centre Agent needs to confirm your location. They already know where you are from your GPS coordinates and you therefore just need to listen carefully when they read out the address and confirm it is correct. If you are requesting assistance on behalf of someone else, in a different location, you will need to have the address and give it to the Response Centre Agent.

We like to encourage our users to test Namola, to ensure that you know how Namola works in an emergency. Our Response Centre Agents are ready to assist you 24/7 anywhere in South Africa. Don’t believe us? Why not download Namola free now and test it for yourself.

6 common questions about your location settings in Namola

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1.Why should I keep my location settings on permanently for Namola?

Namola will not work if your location settings are not on, which means if you have an emergency you will need to go into your settings and switch on your location settings before you can request assistance through Namola. This will take you time. Time that you may not have in an emergency, which is why we encourage you to keep your location settings on permanently.

2. Does switching on my location permanently for Namola use my data?

No. You will only use a small amount of data when the Namola App is open and you are using it to Request Assistance. If Namola is running in the background (i.e. it has not been forced closed), you will still not incur any data costs.

3. Does leaving my location on permanently drain my battery?

The way Namola uses locations also has virtually no impact on your battery life.

4. Can you find my phone if it is stolen and my location is on?

No. We will only be able to locate you when you request assistance through Namola. If your Namola App is not open and you have not held down the “Request Assistance” button, we will not be able to locate you.

5. Will people be able to hack my phone if my location is on permanently?

No. Just as we are not able to locate your stolen phone, people will not be able to hack your smartphone if you leave your location settings on permanently. We can only find you through your GPS coordinates when you request assistance through the Namola App.

6. If my location settings are on but I do not have data will you be able to assist me in an emergency

You will need a small amount of data to be able to request assistance from Namola, even if your location settings are on. However, if you do not have data, you will be directed to one of the free National emergency numbers such as 10111 or 112.

Download Namola FREE

Fighting Femicide, together

Reeva Steenkamp, Amanda Tweyi, Karabo Mokoena, Zolile Khumalo. These women have one thing in common, they were all killed by the hands of men. Men they trusted, their intimate partners. Sadly, they represent just a small majority of the women killed in South Africa’s frightening femicide statistics.

According to AfricaCheck, South Africa’s femicide rate is 5 times higher than the global rate. Between April and December 2016, the police recorded a total of 14,333 murders. Of these, 1,713 were women.

“The time has come for South Africans to speak up on behalf of each other. With emergency responders stretched thin, helping to fight these frightening statistics starts with us. If we can create a community whereby, instead of filming, walking or scrolling by we could report incidents, fast, wouldn’t that be the first step into making South Africa a safer place for all?” says Peter Matthaei, CEO of Namola, a free mobile safety app that allows South African citizens to Get Help Fast in emergency situations.

”With Namola, ordinary citizens now have the power to get help fast in an emergency situation where they would normally not want to get involved. We no longer have the excuse to ignore cries for help,”says Matthaei.

Dialdirect offer the following tips to report assistance with Namola on behalf of someone else:

Assess the urgency of the situation. Before you report an emergency, make sure the situation is genuinely urgent. Namola categorises emergencies into four types; Crime, Medical, Accidents and Fire.

Location, Location, Location. The most important piece of information you will need when you request assistance on behalf of someone else is their location. If you are using Namola to request assistance, they will be able to know where you are via your GPS location. If you have received a request for help and are not at the scene of the incident, ensure you have an address and/or a landmark that will help emergency responders locate the person in need of assistance.

Attention to detail. You may not want to get involved in the incident itself, but you should try and provide as many details of the incident as possible.

Dialdirect Insurance also offers information on what you will need to provide if you are reporting an incident on behalf of someone else:

Reporting a crime. Try and get a physical description of the person committing the crime. If this is a case of abuse, try and set the scene of the crime. For example, is there a history to the crime, does the perpetrator know the victim.

Reporting a medical emergency. What symptoms the person in the emergency is displaying.

“The more information one is able to provide, the better prepared the person co-ordinating the help will be to assist,” concludes  Matthaei.

Make sure that you #GetHelpFast. Download Namola FREE.

When Namola needs Namola.

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Being part of the Namola team, we get daily job satisfaction seeing how many people across South Africa we are able to #GetHelpFast. It’s a very personal job, as one is constantly thinking about how the person in trouble could one day be you. That one day came on a sunny Saturday morning for Namola Team member, Siobhan.

Siobhan was used to hearing screams of delight from her neighbours’ kids as they swam in the pool, but when she heard her neighbours shouting for help she knew that there was something terribly wrong.

“A child drowning is any parent’s worst nightmare. So when I heard them screaming about a child who had fallen in the pool, I grabbed my phone before I ran over to their house. On my way I opened Namola and requested assistance”, says Siobhan. “The Response Centre Agent called me within seconds and I requested an ambulance.”

The Namola Response Centre Agent dispatched an ER24 ambulance to the scene.

“ER24 were great,” says Siobhan. “ They phoned me minutes after Namola had logged the call with them. They said that they were 20 minutes away and asked me if I needed pre-arrival medical assistance.” Luckily when Siobhan arrived the parents had managed to resuscitate the child, but not knowing how long the child had been in the pool, they were still concerned about the child and requested the paramedics still come to the scene. “It was great not to need the pre-arrival service that the ER24 medically trained professional offered me over the phone, but it was such a comfort to know that had I needed to perform CPR or offer any medical assistance myself, a qualified medic was on the other end of the phone to talk me through it.”

ER24 also dispatched a vehicle with Advanced Life Support (ALS) system aboard. “The car got there in 12 minutes from the time that I made the call,” says Siobhan. “ The Ambulance got there about 4 minutes later. This is a great service from ER24 which is very reassuring in the case of very serious incidents like possible drownings.”

The little girl was checked out and luckily had no injuries.

“There is no time to waste when a child is in distress, “ says Siobhan. “ I am so glad that I knew how Namola worked and how to use it quickly. Even though all of our employees work with Namola on a daily basis, we encourage them to test Namola. We want to make sure getting help fast is a habit.”

Namola will ensure that you #GetHelpFast every time. Be prepared, download Namola for any emergency.

Driving in severe weather? [READ] these safety tips.

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South Africa is experiencing some severe weather conditions over the country. This kind of weather demands your undivided attention when driving, so be sure to reduce any possible distractions by turning the radio down or turning off that phone to keep your attention fully on the road. The best possible solution to stay safe in risky whether is to stay off the road entirely, but if you can’t avoid the road, follow these tips when driving in bad weather:

Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning or skidding on ice.

Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you.

Give other vehicles more space. Add a 2 -3 car space between you and the car in front of.

Beware of Black Ice. Black ice is a thin layer of ice on the road surface. Because it is smooth and transparent, it appears the same colour as the road below. Black ice can be almost invisible to drivers, which makes it particularly dangerous. As a guide, if the temperature is low and the road surface looks ‘wet’, be careful and drive with caution as it could be black ice.

Halt in the Hail. If hail is severe, stop driving and pull over to a safe place. Keep your car angled so that the hail is hitting the front of your car. Windshields are reinforced to withstand forward driving and pelting objects. Side windows and backglass are not and are much more susceptible to breakage

Be prepared for accidents. Accidents on the roads are inevitable in bad weather. Make sure you are prepared to get help fast. The faster someone is able to get help to a scene, the better. You can download Namola and request assistance in any emergency.

Stay safe and warm, and if you have to be out on the roads, be careful.

Namola App Update – load your personal information

At Namola we are always looking for ways to get our Users help even faster than the day before. What better way to achieve this than to listen to the Users suggestions on how to achieve this. So, when you guys suggested that we cut down on the questions in an emergency, we listened. Adding your personal information in the app, allows us to confirm information, rather than ask questions, which ensures we are off the phone to you and onto coordinating your help, faster than before. You can update your information by following these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of Namola on your smartphone and update Namola
  2. Open the Namola App
  3. At the bottom of your screen you will see 5 icons. Select the one that says “Profile”
  4. Select Personal Information tab
  5. You will see 5 categories that you will need to fill in:
  • About Me
  • Medical
  • Primary Vehicle
  • Addresses
  • Home Security.

Your data is safe with us! Personally identifiable information is never used or disclosed for any other reason. Access to this important information when you request assistance, will help us, help you, get assistance even faster than before.

Hostages get help, fast!

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Natalie* was taking stock in the back when she heard a commotion in her store on a Friday afternoon. Four armed men entered her shop in Germiston. She had three staff and ten customers in her shop. Luckily Natalie had not been spotted by the intruders and managed to hide herself in the mezzanine storeroom. Natalie had recently watched a video on Namola’s YouTube Channel that had showed her how to use Namola. She remembered from the video that she needed to answer the Response Centre Agents call in order for them to know what type of help she needed. Natalie cleverly switched her phone on silent,  requested assistance through Namola and waited for the Response Centre Agent to call.

Namola’s Response Centre Agent responded to Natalie’s call in a matter of seconds, and upon hearing the hushed yet urgent tones of Natalie’s voice, realised Natalie was in serious danger and was unable to talk. “I was so scared to speak,” says Natalie. ”I could hear the intruders right outside and I was terrified that they would hear me. Once I had answered the phone call quietly, I then made use of the chat feature to ensure that I could be as quiet as possible. I was able to stay in contact with the Response Centre Agent, who informed me that the police were on their way.”

Natalie watched helplessly from her hiding place as customers entered her shop and were rounded up by the intruders into a hostage situation. Watching this robbery unfold was not the only thing that Natalie could see. She could also make out the registration of the getaway car and managed to text it through to the Response Centre Agent on the Namola chat feature.

Although only ten minutes had passed, it felt like forever until she heard the sound of police sirens in the distance. Natalie was not the only one that heard the police sirens, and scared of being caught, the intruders made a dash for freedom, leaving behind some very relieved and unharmed staff and customers in the shop.

“I am telling everyone I can about Namola. Namola was quick and efficient and got SAPS on scene when I could not get through to 10111,” says Natalie. “Even when I was unable to talk, we could communicate via texting. Thank you so much!”

  • Users name has been changed

Safe travels with Namola

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The June holidays are here. If you are planning a road trip, you will need to be extra careful. During school holidays in South Africa road accidents increase dramatically as thousands of people make their way across the country to various destinations.

If you are a parent, then you’ll know that driving with kids in the car can be a huge distraction and impair your concentration. Distracted drivers are unsafe drivers; the more time you spend solving fights, bargaining with your kids or looking in the rear-view mirror, the less time you’re devoting to monitoring traffic.

International studies show that nearly 25% of crashes occur when drivers are dealing with kids in the back seat. Many kids get bored on long road trips, sometimes fight with each other and need stimulation in order to keep them settled and happy. This is normal behaviour when it comes to children, but is problematic on the road.

Being on road during a peak traffic holiday period increases the chances of accidents happening. Add to that the stress of travelling with kids and it’s essential to take extra care. Here are some good suggestions for driving more safely with children:

  • Set expectations. Lay out the rules in advance by telling your kids ahead of time how you expect them to behave. Share the agenda with them and explain the family rules. For example, you might say you’ll be driving from 9 am to 4 pm and stopping for a picnic lunch around noon. Each person can choose music for an hour, and you’ll take away the toys of any child who misbehaves.
  • Keep focused. Whatever is going on with your kids in the car, it’s your duty to keep your concentration on the road. If there is another adult in the car, then let them take on the responsibility of dealing with the children and their needs.
  • Be prepared. Pack lots of entertainment and toys. DVD players, music, audiobooks, iPads and other tablets can go a long way to keeping them occupied during the journey. For younger children try stickers and other little toys to keep them happy.
  • Play games. Old school games like ‘I spy’ and other interactive, guessing games can keep the mood lighthearted and the kids entertained so brush up on some of these.
  • Pack lots of snacks and water. Sometimes bad behaviour is a result of hunger or low blood sugar. Healthy travelling snacks are pretzels, dried fruit and crackers. Save the junk food for desperate scenarios!
  • Make regular stops. Stop for the toilet and for the children to be able to run around, stretch and let off some steam. This will prevent cabin fever and boredom. Having fun on unplanned stops makes the drive much more exciting.
  • Avoid losing your temper. Going crazy is only going to increase the stress of everyone in the car.
  • Reward good behaviour. Using incentives such as no complaining for the next hour means a stop at an ice cream stand. Or leaving your sibling alone gets some one-on-one time with Mom or Dad in the pool. A whine-free morning means picking where to eat for lunch. Use this strategy in reverse, too.


Interview with celebrity Sharika Soal

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Sharika Soal is a celebrity publicist in Los Angeles, who is passionate in the fight against women and child abuse. Sharika’s concern about the number of women being murdered and going missing in South Africa caused her to send a tweet to her South African followers, urging them to download Namola. Her message was retweeted over 10,000 times. We decided to catch up with the lady behind the twitter page @LadyThriller69.

NamolaApp: Hi Sharika, you are based in the States, can you tell us how you heard about Namola and what made you tweet South African women?

Sharika Soal: I have a large south African following and the African women I follow started to talk about missing women and raped women in African countries I started to become very upset because I saw that Americans were not paying attention to how many women were coming up missing daily in my newsfeed.

60 women  kidnapped in 30 days is atrocious  and so I began to tweet about the frustration that women in Africa were being slaughtered and no one cared and someone told me to look up your company and I instantly knew I had to put this on twitter to teach my Africa followers how to spread the word to protect themselves

NamolaApp: You mention in your twitter feed that you were abused as a child. Is this something that fuels your passion for the fight against women and child abuse?

Sharika Soal: Yes my father molested me from a very young age. I, therefore, feel very protective of people who need to call for help and can’t. This is why Namola means so much to me. I could never dial 911 in front of my mom or dad, an app like this would have saved my life.

NamolaApp: Femicide and abuse against women is a huge problem in the world, but particularly South Africa. How do you think Namola would be able to help women or girls in these situations.

Sharika Soal: I know the app is crucial to survival. Your app allows poor vulnerable men and women have a lifeline to tell anyone they were in trouble whereas if they did not have your app may be the situation of immediate danger would not allow them to actually dial the police or make obvious movements that they are using their phone. It is a discreet way of alerting someone that you are in danger

NamolaApp: Do you have any safety advice for girls and women in South Africa?

Sharika Soal:  Never get in a car with someone you don’t know and even if you feel like you can trust a man and his friends do not ever go anywhere alone with any man without letting people know where you went and bring a friend on all blind dates and meet in public spaces. This goes for men too.

NamolaApp:  If you could send women in South Africa one message, what would it be?

I will always do what I can to speak about the issues South African women face as they have been so very kind and open with me so I consider them family and to remember we are more powerful than we think and can accomplish great things if we just believe.

You can download Namola FREE on any smartphone