A few years ago, Maya Zankoul and I came up with a snarky parody of the ubiquitous iPhone advertisement, tailored specifically for Lebanon’s problems. At the time, the idea of a single iPhone app designed for life in Lebanon was hysterically funny, mainly because internet speeds were only a notch beyond the dial-up era.
Since 2010, we’ve seen several apps designed for the long-suffering Lebanese citizen. There’s an app that will tell you which roads are closed because of road work, flash floods, and political protests; (Ma2too3a); an app that will tell you the owner of a car based on their license place (yes, that is scary); and now there’s even an app that will allow you to report on improperly lit street-lamps.
Like many Lebanese fathers, my own is a stickler for efficiency. Few things make him more frustrated than a light left on in an empty room. So imagine how angry it makes him to witness the common spectacle of street lamps lit during the day on Lebanese roads. It apparently got him so mad that he had a smart phone app designed that will allow anyone to report a street lamp crime at the press of the button. The GPS tracks the location and sends the (anonymous) report to a central processing office, which then relays the information to the relevant municipal authorities.
If a municipality doesn’t respond in a timely manner to repeated reports about lit street lamps, Abu Elias is threatening to publish the incriminating evidence and make his data available to the media. As powerful as Lebanese administrative inertia may be, public humiliation may be yet more powerful a force. That’s his gamble, at least.
And if you’re in Lebanon, download it from the App Store.