Fixing Cairo’s traffic problems is not going to happen overnight. But new startup Emokhalfa is taking the problem into their own hands.
It could take years to see tangible improvements over the mess Egypt is living in. That was the conclusion of the study conducted in 2011 by a group of 30 traffic experts and scientists from Germany, Austria, and Egypt under the supervision of the WHO. It took them two and half years to come up with this obvious conclusion.
However, this dismal diagnosis is not stopping Emokhalfa from moving forward with their project.
Emokhalfa is a crowdsourcing platform that aims to improve road safety by building community pressure around reckless driving. This includes driving in the wrong direction, double parking, triple parking, and extensive use of horns, as well non-traffic problems including throwing garbage, sexual harassment, drugs, and other violations.
The startup allows users to report any vehicle by entering its license plate number along with an optional photo to Emokhalfa’s website, mobile app, or by calling their hotline at 19739.
“Roads are not safe anymore, you can’t send your kids to school by bus and not worry about them arriving in one piece,” said Wael Khalifa, co-founder and business development manager of Emokhalfa.
“The name of the game is spreading the culture of driver safety awareness by making online videos, comics and events in schools and universities to teach the children and youth the importance of using seat belts, baby car seats, helmets while riding motor bikes or cycling,” adds Mohamed El Hagry, co-founder and partners manager of Emokhalfa.
Once a mokhalfa, or violation, is reported, it gets published to the online database. Any user can search for the mokhalfa as long as he knows the full license plate number of the vehicle. Here is an example:
“Emokhalfa is different things for different people. Parents who are sending their kids to school by bus can check the school bus and see if he has done any violation and can then put pressure on the school to take action with the driver. One can also check for personal driver or track behavior of their sons and daughters when they buy them a new car,” said Khalifa.
There are multiple agreements in progress with organizations such as the National Council for Road Safety under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior and NGOs including the Egypt Safe Road Society focused on providing organizations with data and statistics for locations that have particular problems.
“We entered a partnership with HarassMap to provide them with data for sexual harassment cases that are reported on our platform,” said Hagry. “We are also in talks with other apps from the same domain as we share the same goal through different means, we try to find common ground where we can integrate together some of our features and give a better service to our community.”
Is It Sustainable?
The idea is sound, but how can they monetize? Emokhalfa has a very interesting monetization SAS model for corporates; they provide a comprehensive reporting tool for corporate fleets licensed per car. Violations can be filtered by type, location or driver. Large stickers are provided for their vehicles that show simple instructions on how to report a mokhalfa.
Egypt already sees corporate trucks with a phone number to call if you want to report the driver, but this hasn’t been effective for several reasons; each company has one or more mobile numbers printed on the cars and usually the calls are not answered. If they are answered, calls are not directed to the right person without proper software management. Emokhalfa offers a more useful and comprehensive platform that capitalizes on the user base and the eco-system of a website, mobile app, and call center.
The team is still working on many interesting ideas to enhance user interaction with users. One idea is the gamification of the app; the more reports you post, the better your rank will be. Similar to FourSquare, you could become the mayor of Heliopolis if you submit frequent reports in your area.
Emokhalfa will launch their iPhone and Android apps by early November to offer a convenient way to report any mokhalfa.
Check out their concept below: