Serrari Group

July 14 2023

The Africa Prize For Engineering competition witnessed the emergence of joint winners. Anatoli Kirigwajjo from Uganda and Edmund Wessels from South Africa achieved a remarkable tie for first place as they showcased their groundbreaking innovations, YUNGA and FlexiGyn, before a panel of esteemed judges. This momentous occasion led to both engineers being crowned as the ultimate champions of the competition, with each recipient being awarded a generous cash prize of £25,000.

Innovation knows no boundaries, and sometimes the most remarkable solutions emerge from traditional practices deeply rooted in culture. Such is the case with YUNGA, a groundbreaking security system inspired by the ‘ten household model’ prevalent in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. By harnessing the power of digital technology and community trust, YUNGA aims to transform the way we approach safety and security.

The ‘ten household model’ is an age-old practice where communities use drums to alert others during emergencies. Building upon this foundation, YUNGA divides communities into networks of 10 to 30 households, equipping each with a YUNGA device connected to a local network. Additionally, police stations are provided with their own device. When an attack or emergency occurs, pressing a button on the YUNGA device sends a message to other devices and phones within the network, instantly sharing the victim’s details and address and prompting a swift community response. This system operates through both the YUNGA mobile application and a Long Range Wide Area Network with a range of 20 kilometers, making it effective even in areas with no internet connectivity. The device can be connected to either a smartphone or a simpler phone via SMS and a regular GSM signal.

One of the most significant advantages of YUNGA is its ability to significantly reduce security response times, especially in rural areas where police stations may be located far away. Anatoli Kirigwajjo, a visionary Ugandan software engineer, recognized that existing home security systems did little to foster community safety. Hence, he integrated digital technology into local policing and developed YUNGA as a result. In Uganda, where 70% of burglaries occur when homes are unoccupied, the YUNGA security package incorporates motion sensors that alert the network when activated, ensuring enhanced protection.

But Kirigwajjo and his team didn’t stop there. They are now incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into YUNGA to detect behavioral patterns. The device will learn when people are away and automatically activate itself when they forget to set their alarm. Looking ahead, Kirigwajjo envisions integrating YUNGA with GPS systems to detect when people leave their homes without activating their security system.

YUNGA has already gained significant traction, with approximately 2,500 people from 450 households across 18 communities in central Uganda already connected to the network. The team has ambitious plans to expand its reach, aiming to connect 32,000 households across Uganda over the next two years.

Beyond empowering individuals and communities with enhanced security measures, Kirigwajjo’s long-term vision includes collaborating with African governments to map crime hotspots. By utilizing machine learning to analyze this data, YUNGA can provide valuable insights for security resource allocation, helping authorities effectively address crime-related challenges.

Reflecting on his motivation to create YUNGA, Kirigwajjo shared, “I developed YUNGA after experiencing a personal loss of $1,300 worth of assets in a break-in, with little hope of the thieves being apprehended. We hope that by establishing household networks through YUNGA, communities will become harder targets for criminals. This will ensure safety, ultimately fostering an environment where economic activities can thrive.”

YUNGA exemplifies the potential of merging technology, cultural practices, and community collaboration to address critical societal issues. As this innovative security system continues to evolve and expand, it has the potential to transform the safety landscape not only in Africa but also across the globe.

photo source: google

Delino Gayweh

Serrari Financial Analyst

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