Mobile app alerting residents of air raids is saving lives in Kyiv
William Denselow in Kyiv

A mobile app giving warnings of air raids has become a life-saving device for people in Kyiv, said the deputy mayor.

Residents in the Ukrainian capital have had to adapt to life under the threat of missile attacks since the conflict with Russia began a year ago.

Crucial have been the shelters, especially the Kyiv metro system, and the speed at which people can get to safety.

Images have been beamed globally of residents huddling in the metro, which has the deepest station in the world, while missile attacks take place.

And technology has played an important part in warning citizens of attacks, with alerts sometimes given multiple times a day.

People sheltering in the Kyiv metro during an air raid. /Vladyslav Musiienko / Reuters
People sheltering in the Kyiv metro during an air raid. /Vladyslav Musiienko / Reuters

People sheltering in the Kyiv metro during an air raid. /Vladyslav Musiienko / Reuters

"I usually use the air alert map in the app, because it's quick and you can see how intense the alert will be and how long it will last," said Tetiana.

Deputy Mayor of Kyiv Petro Olenych said that any delay in receiving a notification could lead to tragedy.

"You have to get dressed and get to the shelter, which is already three to five minutes. So if a person receives a delayed notification or doesn't hear the speaker from the street, we can lose a life," he said.

One problem for the app has been power outages when there is no reception.

One resident, Valerii, said: "Сurrently, there are problems with the fact that sometimes we don't have a power supply in the city, thus there is no reception, so the notification may not come. But it's cool that we have apps like this."

Kyiv does have an air raid alert system on the city's streets but the mobile app is a better guarantee that people hear it and it is especially important in rural areas.


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Ajax Systems has been making security technology products since 2011. 

When the conflict began, it got to work on an app that sends air alerts directly to roughly 15 million people who have downloaded it. 

Ajax works with Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation to get information to the public. And legendary Star Wars actor Mark Hamill has returned as his character Luke Skywalker to record the app's English-language version.

Valentine Hrytsenko, chief marketing officer for Ajax Systems, said: "The most important thing is to get feedback from real people that say that this app saves their lives and we have such feedback both from civilians and from army people."

Kyiv's government updated its app just days after the military conflict began and Kyiv Digital now offers a range of services from paying for parking and public transit tickets to receiving air alerts and information on where to find shelter from missile strikes.

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