On Friday evening, August 11th, the IEBC announced that Uhuru Kenyatta had won the Kenyan general election. Afterwards a number of protests and riots ensued. It is estimated that at least 24 people were killed and 150 injured according to the Kenyan Human Rights Commission.

Seven years ago a group of women, including Ushahidians Linda Kamau and Angela Oduor, co-founded AkiraChix, an organization that trains young girls to code. The current class of 22 codeHive students come from different parts of Nairobi, mostly the informal settlements. After the announcement of the presidential results, violence broke out in some of the informal settlements notably Kibera, Mathare and Kawangware, where a number of the girls live.

Linda Kamau, who has been with Ushahidi for eight years and is the senior developer on the Rollcall product, realized that she had to make sure the 22 AkiraChix students were ok. This was the first time we needed to use RollCall since the Westgate attacks which motivated us to build an app that help teams check in on their staff during emergencies. Linda quickly set up an instance of Rollcall to reach her students and track their responses. “I managed to quickly import their contact details, and then send out a Rollcall to them that went directly to their SMS and email, all in a matter of minutes.” The majority of the girls responded immediately via SMS saying they were okay, leaving only a few that Linda then called directly, and subsequently was able to quickly determine that all 22 girls were safe and accounted for.

For a demographic of high school aged girls like this, we did not expect the number of replies we got right away, showing that this is a tool that can be used by anyone. Based on the number of immediate responses, and follow up conversations, the students were happy that someone thought about them and checked in on them.

One of the important features of this tool is that the girls didn’t have to sign up for something ahead of time, or take the initiative to go and check-in somewhere. They received a Rollcall directly to their phones, from a credible source, in this case their teacher Linda, and then quickly responded. It also saved Linda a lot of time, the whole process took about 15 minutes from sending a Rollcall, getting responses, and then following up directly with the handful of girls who hadn’t responded.

Rollcall is currently in private Beta and will be launched publicly in a handful of countries this fall. You can sign up at Rollcall.io to get an alert when it launches.