Business

Local crime app developers target $20m in revenue

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2014    

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DEVELOPERS of Crimebot, the award-winning mobile crime alert application (app), aim to generate up to $20 million in revenues while curbing crime.

The team will offer the app freely to users but charge for advertising space.

"Our projections using a basic advertising model is between $15 to $20 million in revenues in the first two years," said Aldrean Smith yesterday in a conference call.

It's based on a conservative ad-revenue model once the team captures an undisclosed number of downloads on the estimated one-quarter million smartphone devices in Jamaica.

Smith is part of a five-member team that includes Dave Oakley, Garth Thompson, Kashif Hewitt, and mentor Francesco Ciriaci.

The application won top app among 160 entries from the region at the Digital Jam 3.0 competition earlier this month. The team also won US$10,000 ($1.08 million) in prize money.

Crimebot members told the Observer that it wants the support of the Ministry of National Security to act on the intelligence gathered on the app, along with partnering with the private sector for advertising support.

"We did our initial projections and it's clear this is a socially driven tool, but it has to have a busines model to make it sustainable," reasoned Smith.

Many local apps are big on concepts but fail to convert that into a sustainable business. The Crimebot team hopes that its simple design and value to users and the nation will fillip its usage.

"We are actively seeking the collaboration of private sector as well as the Government to make a grand unified effort against crime," stated Oakley in correspondence with the Observer.

The application, set to launch by month-end on Android devices, will spread onto Windows, BlackBerry and Apple devices in the medium term, the developers said.

Crimebot maps crime hot spots around any specific community or country. Users can view crime directly around them as well report crimes and thirdly search any other location for crimes. It would therefore allow users to know crime around them and even produce crime data to inform real estate purchases.

Crimebot focuses on anonymous reporting along with user confirmation feedback to verify incoming reports. Crimebot's back-end interface then vets all crime data which flows through the Crimebot framework.

"The majority of crime is not solved due to the 'informer' culture. Nobody comes forward. Crimebot will eliminate the informer fi dead factor. You don't give your name," said Oakley in the conference call.

The team will allow users to input crimes that involve rape, murder, larceny, and missing persons. They also propose allowing reporting on corruption.

"For the most part the app is 97 per cent complete," indicated Hewitt.

Digital Jam was organised by the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group, the Government of Canada, and key partners including the Caribbean Development Bank, the Development Bank of Jamaica, the OECS Secretariat, Microsoft, LIME, Google, the Jamaica Gleaner, JAMPRO, InfoDev, and other corporate entities.

More than 50 teams from Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago, and St Kitts had a chance to network with key experts from Silicon Valley at the two-day conference held at the University of West Indies, Mona.

The app competition entries were reviewed by a panel of judges, including Bedy Yang, of 500startups; JJ Geewax, vice-president of engineering of Invite Media; Yousef Hamidaddin, CEO of Oasis500; Peter Corbett, founder and CEO of iStrategyLabs; and Jeff Burton, executive director from Skydeck Berkeley.

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