The Franklin software development company Metova worked with a nonprofit group to create an app that provides notifications about the location of attacks launched in Syria.
The goal is to help people outside Syria understand the severity of the attacks and provide real-time information to people in Syria who may be in danger.
Metova engineers volunteered their time and skills for the project. They worked with the Syrian Emergency Task Force to develop the app. The task force is a U.S. nonprofit organization that aims to support Syrians demanding freedom and democracy.
The app, called Syria Watch, is simple. It simply lists the location and details of attacks. Alerts have an urgency rating from medium to critical, and warn users about artillery attacks, airstrikes, barrel bombs and other bombs.
On September 25, the app notified users about three artillery attacks in the Syrian city of Idlib. The day before the app sent out a notification about a car bomb that killed several people in the Syrian city of Rao Al Ain.
The notifications pop up for the Syria Watch app sandwiched in between calendar reminders and missed phone calls.
“It really is mind blowing. Half the notifications I get are my email ... or all the other stuff,” Metova Chief Technology Officer Andrew Cowart said. "With this, it's the same notification sound, the same spot as my coupons and sale notifications, but it's about a barrel bomb in Syria near a school.”
Information about these attacks come from eyewitnesses in Syria. They report the attack to staff at the Syrian Emergency Task force, who confirm it, translate it and send out a notification.
Metova got connected to the Syrian Emergency Task Force when the executive director Mouas Moustafa asked for the company’s help. Moustafa is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, and Metova’s CEO Josh Smith has long had connection in that region.
In a blog post, Moustafa wrote that the app is primarily a tool to raise awareness outside of Syria.
“This app allows the general public, journalists, policy makers, and activists to be able to imagine themselves in the shoes of the Syrian people who are regularly targeted by the Assad regime, Russian air force, and Iranian militias,” Moustafa said, according to a press release. “Our hope is that by learning about the escalating violence in Syria and the need for civilian protection, people will help to bring an end to the violence and killing.”