How your smartphone could save your life after a car accident

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South African startup Crash Detech is utilising mobile technology to save lives in the event of a car accident, having designed a smartphone app which detects a crash, pinpoints exact location and immediately dispatches the nearest ambulance.

Launched towards the end of last year after 18 months of research and development, CrashDetech uses smart drive-detection technology to automatically monitor a user’s trips.

The company has developed a proprietary algorithm which auto-detects a serious car crash using only sensors on a phone, detecting the impact and g-force consistent with a crash.

Once it has detected a crash, the CrashDetech app is able to pinpoint the exact location of the crash, dispatch the nearest ambulance to the scene and even supply paramedics with the medical information of the smartphone owner.

CrashDetech – which is a finalist in the US$1 million Chivas Regal The Venture competition –  provides access to the largest independent national network of emergency medical personnel, with more than 5,000 paramedics ready to respond to an emergency.

“With an average of 47 road accident fatalities per day, South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in which to drive. Time is the driving factor in case of emergencies and delays in receiving appropriate medical attention often turns out to be fatal,” CrashDetech chief executive officer (CEO) Jaco Gerrits told Disrupt Africa.

“A number of telematic companies provide crash detection capabilities, but this requires vehicles to be installed with a hardware device. CrashDetech only requires a smartphone and we offer various additional value added benefits, looking after the safety and security of our members whilst on the road.”

Self-funded until very recently, when an investor came on board to provide funding and access to key markets, CrashDetech is currently only available in South Africa. Gerrits said the company does have plans to expand elsewhere later this year.

“We’re looking at expanding to the African markets like Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda. We’re also in discussions with entities in Guatemala and could potentially consider South American markets, such as Brazil,” he said.

The startup employs a B2C model, offering three subscription types with varying benefits.

“We have identified and are actively engaging with numerous distribution channels with an incentive structure to help drive sales. In the B2B environment, we offer a volume-based licensing model where our technology can be integrated into existing apps and our services offered at a discounted rate,” Gerrits said.

The startup experience delays in launching, with Gerrits saying the technical requirements were much tougher than originally anticipated. Yet with funding on board CrashDetech is now looking to the future.

“We’re planning to release a major app update towards the end of May, including enhancements and additional features which will save our members both money and time,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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