[Aug. 9, 2020: Business Insider]
A 17-year-old New Jersey high school student has developed an Android app that allows users to record their interactions with police and then notify a loved one or share it to social media, like Instagram.
Aaditya Agrawal told Business Insider that he was compelled to create the app in part after a close friend of his, who is Black, was pulled over without 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," he said.
Accountability in law enforcement has been thrust into the national discourse surrounding how Black Americans are treated by police even more so since the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd in May.
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In 2018, Apple launched a series of Siri Shortcuts, one of which allowed users to record police interactions and then text a designated contact when they are pulled over with the footage.
The app, dubbed Police, has seen an uptick in use as the nation has erupted in widespread protests against police brutality, law enforcement's abuse of power, and systemic racism following the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Holding law enforcement more accountable has become a centerpiece of the national discussion, and technology could play a major role in it.
That mission has driven a 17-year-old New Jersey high school student to create an app that not only more easily records your interaction with police when you are pulled over but is equipped to instantly share the footage on social media platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
Aaditya Agrawal, a student at Livingston High School in New Jersey, told Business Insider he's been working on the app, dubbed PulledOver, for a while. But he has focused more heavily on its development over the past few months in light of the renewed sense of urgency surrounding law enforcement's treatment of Black Americans.
And he also has a personal motivation in seeing the app come to fruition — Agrawal said a friend of his, who is Black, recently was pulled over seemingly without 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," Agrawal said.
Here's how it works: You can download PulledOver in the Google Play Store, and you don't have to sign in or create an account to use the app. Simply add an emergency contact, and that's it.
"The last thing you want to be worrying about is how an app works when you get pulled over," he said.
If you get pulled over, you launch the app, which will take you to your phone's native camera app. Press record, then when you're done, you'll be automatically taken back to the PulledOver app and given the option to notify your emergency contact, or share it to social media.
You can also share the footage with others who use the PulledOver app, a feature that Agrawal said he hasn't seen yet.
"It's almost like a community where you can share videos — you can see how other people are being treated," he said.
Agrawal said another intended purpose for the app is to 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," Agrawal said.
The app officially launched on June 20, about a month after Floyd was killed.
Agrawal said the app currently has 350 installs, and he has yet to do any paid marketing for it yet, instead opting for word-of-mouth through friends and family. The app is currently only available for Android smartphones in the Google Play Store, but Agrawal said he'll have hopefully successfully translated it into iOS language by the end of the year.
He's also currently working with major organizations involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, like Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and Campaign Zero, to build an app specifically for their communities.
But Agrawal said he's hesitant for the service to be labeled as merely a piece of software.
"I'm not really going for the app market," he said. "It's more like a tool for people who can use something like this when they need it the most."... Read More