There’s no shortage of panic button apps for smartphones which are designed to send out distress messages at the tap of a screen should you get into trouble, but there’s not many which are actually sponsored by the local police force. Enter Namola, a new Android app for Tshwane residents for reporting crime and summoning armed response.

The Namola smartphone app lets users send an alert to the nearest Tshwane Metro Police responders at a touch of a button, and is the result of a partnership between The City of Tshwane, the Tshwane Metro Police, Huawei and Ever Africa, a company co-founded by Project Iziswe head Alan Knott-Craig Junior.

The project is being piloted in Monument Park for the next five weeks and will give the Namola team the chance to explore new ways in which smartphones and GPS can be used to deal with the issue of crime in South Africa.

If you’re in the Monument Park area and in danger, you can send an alert to an armed responder by opening the Namola app and tapping the “Get Armed Response” button. An alert will then be sent to dashboard-mounted Huawei smartphones in the nearest three available armed response vehicles.

The first responder who communicates that they’re available to help is automatically directed to you via GPS. You’ll then see a photo and name of the responder so you can recognise them when they arrive, and you can also make a direct call to them or the police from within the app.

“The coverage area for the pilot is clearly defined on the application with all uncovered areas being shaded in red on the in-app map. When the app is outside of the coverage area the “Get Armed Response” button becomes “Call Police”. This dials the 10111 national police call centre,” explained Ever Africa.

“The Namola app doesn’t create new infrastructure. It merely provides a new mechanism for the citizens of the City of Tshwane to alert nearby responders.” said Craig Rivett of Ever Africa.

Namola is available for download from Google Play. As with all such panic button apps, however, it’s worth remembering that it won’t work where there’s no internet coverage, and may not be quicker than dialling 10111 in the first place – but then, that’s what this trial is for.