A 17-year-old New Jersey high school student developed an app to record encounters with police when people are pulled over, according to Google Play Store.
While this alone is nothing new — it can also share the footage to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
17-year-old develops app to auto-share police encounters during pull-overs
Called Police, the app saw a surge in use when the U.S. saw widespread protests against police brutality, the abuse of power apparent in viral videos of law enforcement conduct, and the widespread campaign to fight systemic racism in the aftermath of the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, reports Business Insider.
Since then, the discussion surrounding holding law enforcement more accountable has become the epicenter of U.S. discourse — and technology could play a central role in this state of calamity.
This national situation drove 17-year-old student Aaditya Agrawal of Livingston High School, New Jersey, to develop a new app that can automatically share footage recorded when law enforcement pulls people over on social media platforms.
Precedence in Apple's Shortcut combined with 'Police'
Of course, Agrawal's PulledOver isn't totally new. In 2018, Apple launched a feature called Shortcuts that let anyone write scripts for the iPhone, and a widely-shared shortcut called Police let users record police interactions and texts with emergency contacts — to inform them of an encounter with police (like being pulled over).
Shortcuts is similar to IFTTT, an app editing software platform, and is also Workflow.
One iPhone user even developed a shortcut capable of prompting one's iPhone to start recording police interactions after uttering the words: "Hey Siri, I'm getting pulled over." Developed by Robert Peterson of Arizona, "Police" saw wide circulation as the 2020 protests ramped up.
Agrawal has been working on the app — called PulledOver — for a while, according to Business Insider. But development of the app picked up pace in the last several months amid the increased national discourse surrounding the way law enforcement officers treat Black Americans.
However, he also has a more personal motivation in bringing the app to completion — Agrawal has a friend who's Black, and was recently pulled over without apparent cause.
"You see it in the news all the time, but when it happens to one of your close friends — and he tells you how it felt for that to happen to him — then you understand the significance," said Agrawal to Business Insider.
How PulledOver works, Android-compatible
Prospective users can download PulledOver in the Google Play Store. Notably, there's no need to sign in or create a new account to use it. All it takes is adding an emergency contact, and the system is ready.
"The last thing you want to be worrying about is how an app works when you get pulled over," said Agrawal to Business Insider.
When users are pulled over, they can launch the app. Once activated, it automatically goes to the phone's native camera app. Press record, and when the moment has passed, users are returned to the PulledOver app and prompted to notify an emergency contact or share the feed on social media.
Sharing police footage, setting good examples, iOS availability
Alternatively, users may also share the footage with other PulledOver app users, a feature Agrawal hadn't seen offered in similar apps.
"It's almost like a community where you can share videos — you can see how other people are being treated," he said to Business Insider. He added that he hopes the app will elevate the "many good police officers as well."
"If you share good police officers and you celebrate them, hopefully, it will inspire others to become better as well," said Agrawal to Business Insider.
The app went live on June 20, roughly one month after Floyd's killing.
As of writing, the app has 350 installs, and Agrawal hasn't moved forward with paid marketing campaigns — opting instead for organic spread via word-of-mouth through family and friends. At the moment this is the only such app available for Android smartphones via the Google Play Store, but Agrawal aims to translate it for iOS capability by the end of 2020.
However, while PulledOver downloads will probably grow amid Android users, it's less likely to receive approval from Apple to be listed on its proprietary App Store.