Mobile apps help Rio residents stay out of the crossfire

World Today

Mobile apps help Rio residents stay out of the crossfire

Rio de Janeiro is suffering a disturbing rise in gun violence this year. Shootouts between police and drug gangs have become common. With bystanders getting caught in the crossfire, fearful residents are turning to technology to help keep safe.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

The sound of gunfire in Rio de Janeiro is getting louder. Almost every day there are gun battles between drug gangs and the police with stray bullets hitting bystanders.

That’s why Amnesty International created the website “Fogo Cruzado” or “Crossfire.” The platform tracks in real-time the locations where shootings are taking place. It is based on eyewitnesses, media and police accounts. It is also available as a mobile app.

“I see that this is terrible, and we need to have this,” said Amnesty International’s Cecilia Oliveira. “We are looking how to solve this but we don’t have the money and when we say we, I am talking about the government that is completely broke.”

A second app, called Onde Tem Tiroteio , OTT or “Where there is shooting” was created by a group of friends. Its alerts reach about three million people, nearly half of Rio de Janeiro’s population.

“The situation was so bad that we decided to do something,” said Dennis Coli, the founder of OTT. “So from the bottom of our hearts, our intention is not to have one million likes but to save one million lives.”

According to data from Rio’s security secretariat, the number of people killed by police in shootouts in the first five months of this year jumped nearly fifty percent compared to the same period last year, totaling 480 deaths.  The two apps recorded between 10 to 14 shootouts per day in July alone, and many cariocas, as Rio citizens call themselves, now say they are thinking about leaving. We’re hearing this not just in the rough areas of the city, but everywhere:

“Sure, I would move to a more peaceful and safer city,” said Jazmine Rodriguez. “It is an option I am considering.”

“We are living in a situation where getting back home safely depends on luck, and you never know,” said Renato Quirino.

With more than 600 bystanders hit by stray bullets this year according to the Rio’s police, hopes are that these apps will help people protect themselves and spare innocent lives.