New app allows journalists in Mexico and Colombia to report attacks in real time

By Norma Garza

Using a new application for Android phones, any journalist in Mexico and Colombia can report real-time attacks to organizations dedicated to protecting freedom of expression, reported newspaper El Universal.

The free app --- called Hancel -- was created by developer Factual and sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The app will be rolled out in stages and in only small and controlled groups. Further studies will explore the possibility of expanding the app to help other vulnerable groups, like human rights activists.

Hancel's creators also intend to take the service to other Latin American countries and make it available in other operating systems for mobile phones, in addition to Android.

The application is designed to be activated from the main screen without having to unlock the phone. It can work without Internet, without GPS communication and even without a telephone network, although in this scenario the alert is saved and waits for network access to send it to its destination.

Meanwhile, using Google Maps, the organizations that receive the alerts will be able to see in real time the location of the reporter and the movements he or she makes after the warning is sent.

The application does not share any information with local or federal authorities, but the user can manually send details to them.

To get the app, journalists should apply through the organizations involved in this project, including Mexico's Red de Periodistas de a Pie, Colombia's Foundation for Press Freedom, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Cencos and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

See the video below explaining the project:

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.