Interview: Meet The Father Of Two Who Launched An App To Keep Minorities And The Vulnerable Safe
Viral tweets of missing Black children, police brutality and misconduct have continued to dominate this year, with some posts leading to re-opened police investigations and discoveries.
But it’s widely known that there is a huge disparity when it comes to media coverage on issues impacting minorities.
This problem has been raised countless times and it’s one that James Samuel, founder of Anjel, knows far too well.
In an interview over a Zoom call, the father of two boys told POCIT that he’d struggled to get attention from mainstream reporters and investors when it came to his app.
The app in question has been described as an initiative that “could help protect minorities.”
When activated, the Anjel Tech app sends a live stream of an incident with GPS directions to the person’s location to the loved ones specified by the user.
This way, Mr. Samuel says loved ones can be there instantly or send help to the location. “The app is also discreet so that any person in need can quietly ask for help without an aggressor noticing. This could be helpful for anyone in a potentially dangerous situation,” he reassured.
The app also automatically saves the audio and footage that could be used later as evidence. But – it doesn’t yet automatically call the police – that’s something the viewers would have to do on their own.
In an interview with POCIT, he said: “I don’t think there’s any person of color who hasn’t had a moment where they thought ‘I wish I could record this encounter or I wish people knew where I was and that’s where Anjel comes in.”
Asked what inspired him to create such an app, he said the events of last summer as well as the fact that he’s now a father to two sons.
“This was of course inspired by the dozens of deaths that have taken place over the past decade from Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, and of course Mike Brown in St Louis. I was actually living there when it happened and back then I wore a shirt that said I can’t breathe and I wore that same shirt at the George Floyd march and I said I can’t believe I’m wearing this again but here we are.
“We were in the middle of a pandemic when he was killed but we’re also still in a more than 100 year epidemic of racism in the states and it’s just crazy.
“So I said here’s what we’re going to do I’m going to make a feature that would cater for marginalized groups and find practical ways to help keep them safe,” he added.
Dozens of initiatives have been launched over the past few years in the hope they can educate people on how specific policies and powers disproportionately impact the community. But not all have involved practical solutions.
“I’m a very practical person. We can talk all day long but we need practical solutions. We need to put the tools in peoples hands and say here take this and this can help you in some way because for the first time in recent history we now have the most powerful technology advancement which means we can now find ways to use tech to help us in our everyday life.
“My team and I created a tool that enables people – especially people of color to feel comfortable that there is something out that will allow their family to not only know where they are but if something does happen it can quickly alert them.
Depending on which subscription you purchase, you can have up to nine people on an account?
James Samuel: Yes, for example, my sister has a subscription, my brother has his family subscription plan, and my mother is on my plan. The three of us have tied our plans together. So, when I stream, my brother and sister get the stream, and when they stream, I get it. We have designed it so that you can combine these plans on our platform, and they will work with large families.
What’s it like trying to get funding for this?
The disparity of media coverage and investor intention is obnoxious – it’s really terrible…I’ve seen it from an investment standpoint and as you know only 1percent of all the big money goes towards Black founders. But we have to continue pushing forward.
Can anyone use the app?
Yes – anyone can use it from anywhere in the world. It’s on the Google play store and the app store.