New UAE app allows parents to track their children’s whereabouts

Image credit: Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Center launched the “Hemayati” Mobile Application to improve the safety and protection services available for children.

This application comes as a response to directions set by the Higher Leadership.

It allows parents to know the whereabouts of their children, and determine times of arrival and departure of children to and from school, and informs them of any delays. Moreover, it enables parents to have live time communicate with their children through the application at all hours. It also provides an ingenious SOS feature built-in, enabling children to send distress calls to their parents when they feel threatened.

The free smartphone application is exclusively available in the UAE and is activated by parents only. It helps parents to locate children when they are lost. It is worth mentioning that this application is the culmination of the Ministry of Interior’s initiative, which recently launched 169 electronic services via its website and 30 smart services via mobile phones.

Major General Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Child Protection at the Ministry of Interior, stressed that the “Hemayati” Program is a crucial part of the UAE’s “national agenda” for the next seven years.

“It deals with security issues and works toward the aim of making the UAE one of the safest places in the world by achieving a complete sense of security, and by reducing the response period for emergency calls to just four minutes,” continued Major General Al Nuaimi.

He also pointed out that the “Hemayati” System comes as a response to the requests of the parents wishing to know the whereabouts of their children.

“This application is part of the ministry’s initiatives, to provide care and attention to young people, and improve their protection and safety extensively,” said Al Nuaimi. Al Nuami also highlighted the ministry's procedures in this regard, most notably establishing the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Center in the UAE, which was set up as a result of the Ministerial Decree No. 347 of 2011.

He noted that the Ministry Interior’s Child Protection Center has been assigned with the mission of developing, implementing and standardizing the initiatives and actions aimed at providing safety, security and protection of all children living in or visiting the UAE.

“This project shall provide the highest standards of protection and security for children, by controlling their leisure time. This calls for strengthening efforts and institutional initiatives to protect them, given that youth and children populations represent a high percentage of society in the UAE,” Al Nuaimi concluded.

For his part, Major General Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, Director General of Central Operations at Abu Dhabi Police, praised the application.

“It provides a safety net to enhance child protection and allows  parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts or know that they didn’t reach school or any other public destination  on time. It also allows family members to communicate via instant messaging that is accessible for family members only,” said Al Raisi.

He also mentioned that the application features secure specifications due to its privacy policy, and helps to determine the whereabouts of children when they go missing. It also warns parents if their children failed to reach school on time, or any other places. “These projects are in service of the homeland,” said Al Raisi.

Commenting on the same subject, Brigadier Eng. Hussein Ahmed Al Harithi, Director of Traffic and Patrols Directorate and Chairman of the Executive Committee of School Transportation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, noted that the “Hemayati” application will develop standards for school transportation.

“It will be a key enabler to some relevant projects, which are being developed by the committee within an integrated system that include the bus, the driver, the infrastructure, the smart systems, the legislative structure, and awareness, with a view to promote the safety of students on school buses and address risks to which they may be exposed,” added Al Harithi.

Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Mohammed Al Shammari, Director of the Child Protection Center at the Ministry of Interior and Chairman of the Technical Subcommittee, said that the application sends an automatic alert to the father and the mother should their child fail to reach a specific destination on time.

“The father can set his child’s arrival time at school, between 7:30 am and 7:45 am. If the child does not reach school on time or fails to appear, the application sends an alert to the parents in order to enable them to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their child,” explained Al Shammari.

Family members can communicate with each other by clicking on the picture of one of the family members on the map, and the name and the last known whereabouts of the latter appear. They can also call each other, or send a message or a request to determine their location. This is only accessible to family members through a chat called “special group”.

Data from users’ Emirates Identity Cards is used for registration. The identity of the person activating the application is confirmed, and allows the application to be activated only by parents. To do so, one must enter the ID number to be sure that the person is authorized to use the application. The last three digits of their phone number are sent to be confirmed and then they receive a PIN code to be used to complete the registration process. The wife and children can register online through the main application menu. The system grants the husband and wife the option to hide their whereabouts.

“The service is limited to families with children. This is verified through the ID card data upon registration, because the application is meant to enhance the protection of children and not to help impose control over them,” said Al Shammari. He also added that the installation of this app on family members’ phones should be done by mutual consent, through their own discretion. “It is important to communicate with children, to convince them of the importance and benefits of this service that ensures their safety,” explained Al Shammari.

He indicated that the application is already available on “Google play” for Android systems in this first stage, followed by Apple, BlackBerry, and Windows in later stages.

Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Mohammed Al Shammari, Director of the Child Protection Center at the Ministry of Interior, has urged family members to not hesitate and get the “Hemayati” service in order to take advantage of its features and enhance security and safety, and to avoid the dangers that children may face while they are unattended in public places. He also asked parents to emphasize the application’s importance to their children and introduce them to its benefits that can protect them.

For his part, Captain Mohammed Saleh Al Mansouri, Director of GIS Security Center, explained that the geographical map for police security features the coordinates of the locations that are visited like malls, gardens, parks, natural plains, and other recreational facilities.

Captain Majid Hashim Al Hashimi, Information Security Officer, asserted that the “Hemayati” application is distinguished for its safety specifications and the privacy features for its users. He also pointed out that the application messaging services are secured to protect family privacy. This security is guaranteed by the registration mechanism in the app that requires the person’s ID to access the service, and authorizes them to access by entering a personal password.

Registration Steps:

To use the application, one must register in the “Hemayati” system. To do so, one must enter the ID number. Then, the person will receive a message with a PIN code generated by the system. Entering the PIN code allows verification of the phone owner’s identity. After that, the registration is completed through the application itself.

* You can send an invitation message to add your wife to your account. To do so, you should enter her ID Number and her e-mail. The wife will then receive an e-mail, containing a link with the terms of use and conditions, which she should accept in order to complete the registration process.

* To add a new member to a group, enter the persons’ ID Number, and then press “Add Location”. To add a location, you may press the “+” sign, and enter the location name. You may also navigate the map to find the location. “Use Current Location” to find your location on the map. Finally, press “Add Location”.

* To add “To Do”: Chose the location, specify date, time and frequency. Finally, press “Add”.

A child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds worldwide

International statistics indicate that a child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds worldwide.

More than 70% of abduction cases take place within 400 meters of a child’s house; it usually involves strangers communicating with the children and luring them in. Not to mention the living nightmare that parents face when their child goes missing or is abducted; an estimated eight million children are reported missing or abducted each year around the world.

As many as 80% of the world’s children are dealing with modern technologies in their early stages of life, and it is estimated that one in every five people will own a smart phone by the end of the year.

In light of the Ministry of Interior’s keenness to ward off these risks and to address parents’ requirements, the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Center (CPC) has launched the “Hemayati” application; a smart phones app that provides a safety net to improve the protection of children.

The Application: An Advanced Accomplishment

Moza Salem Al Shoomi, Head of the Child Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and member of the Higher Council for Family and Children, praised the application.

She said that launching the “Hemayati” smart application is a new accomplishment for the UAE. It is also a first step towards applying and activating the protection articles that are stated in the international agreements on children’s rights. It is also an advanced achievement using smart services for child protection purposes, in response to the police leadership’s directions, which gave top priority to society’s protection in general and child protection in particular.

The “Hemayati” application system is one of the most efficient and rapid tools that will enable children and their families to report any harmful acts or any acts of assault that they might face. It is a helpful tool for the competent security authorities and helps them intervene immediately to take any needed actions to help the children.

For his part, Ali Makki, Head of School Transport Committee at the Department of Transport asserted that the “Hemayati” application, which the MoI Child Protection Center (CPC) has launched, falls within the framework of the Department of Transport’s strategic priorities that aim to provide all-inclusive, safe solutions in the field of school transportation. This is based on the unprecedented security and safety features of the students’ daily transportation. Launching the application will allow parents to monitor their children while on their ways to and from school. Additionally, parents will know if their children are in any danger or if the bus is late.

Furthermore, Mr. Makki added that the Department of Transport is committed to utilizing the most modern technologies available via smart phones to improve safety and security standards. The commitment is applied through close cooperation with the strategic partners in the field of school transportation. Mr. Makki also said that these strategies reflect the wise leadership’s visions, which dedicates top priority to the security and safety of all segments of society in Abu Dhabi and the UAE that are enjoying safety, stability, and welfare.

Family monitoring

The “Hemayati” application is specifically designed to enhance the protection of children; it is not meant to impose any kind of control over them. Installing the application on the family members’ phones must be done by mutual consent, through their own discretion. Parents need to communicate with children, to convince them of the importance and benefits of this service that ensures their safety. To download and install the app, please visit the following link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.CPCapp.

You may also look for the app on “Google play” by typing “Hemayati.”

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