Richard Kato demonstrates how the system is installed in the motorbikes.
Theft of motorbikes is one of the notorious crimes in Uganda as reported by the Uganda police.
Kato Richard, a telecommunications engineering graduate from
Makerere University offered to help motorbike owners track down their motorcycles once they have been stolen.
“One of the most attractive items to thieves in Uganda is the motorbikes. Two years ago, I carried out a market survey, we spoke to motorbike people and we came up with a solution to track their stolen bikes,” he says.
Kato developed a solution, where a tiny Global Positioning System (GPS) tracker is installed on a bike. This tracker is then synched with mobile and web-based applications. So if you are motorbike owner, you can see in real time, where your stolen motorbike is at one particular time by clicking on an app on your mobile phone.
For clients who do not have access to the internet, the solution provides for the use of the SMS.
After designing the system, Kato entered a deal with a Hong Kong based company to supply him the small trackers that he uses today at his startup company called JERM Technologies.
“There are some general purpose trackers on the market, but what I went for was a more customized one. One with a longer battery; one that is small enough to be hidden in a bike,” explains Kato, who is also currently pursuing a master in power systems engineering degree at Makerere University.
How the solution works
The position of the GPS tracker on the bike is so random to make it difficult for a thief to disable the device.
“The chip uses the Google maps coordinates and returns them to our server, and then we relay that to the client’s device,” explains Kato.
“Every bike has a key assigned to the starter and the moment another person tries to unlock the bike, the system will notify you.”
The system also comes in handy if you want to track the movements of your bike. This tool, Kato says is popular with owners who give other people to ride their bikes.
“You may tell your driver that your motor bike should only operate within Kampala city to ferry passengers and the moment he goes beyond the boundaries of Kampala according to Google Maps, you are immediately notified,” explains Kato.
Already 50 motorbike owners are on board, and Kato says they are only getting started.
“One of our clients lent out his motorbike in Kampala, unfortunately, the person who borrowed the bike turned off his phone and he parked the motorbike for over a month. When the battery went off, the tracker also went off, but as soon as he turned on the bike, the system got back on, and we tracked him down.
Kato who turns 28 in October, says since his start-up is small, he is heavily counting on referrals from motorbike owners who are already hooked onto the service.
Installation fee, inclusive of the device is Sh200,000 and one has to part with sh20,000 every month, which Kato says is used to maintain the network servers.
Kato is using the same idea to develop tracking systems for vehicles, and even for boats on Lake Victoria to curb illegal fishing among others.
Source: New Vision newspapers, Uganda and NTV Uganda
What other solutions would you suggest to curb down motorbike or motor vehicle thefts in your countries?