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Brazil introduces ‘smart apps’ that track gunfire as violence in Rio de Janeiro soars

Brazilian authorities have introduced real-time 'smart apps' that track gunfire in an effort to divert citizens away from gun violence which has engulfed Rio de Janeiro. Gun violence and crime has spiked in the beautiful seaside city. Drugs gangs are engaging in a bloody territorial war and police officers are forced to patrol the slums in a bid to try and exert some control.

However, Brazilian authorities will now introduce a pair of real-time smart applications that deliver information to citizens to let them know how many gun battles there have been and the location where the violence has occurred. Amnesty International created the first application named 'Cross Fire' or 'Fogo Cruzado' which was specifically designed to keep innocent Rio citizens from getting caught up in bloody gang wars.

In addition to this, a second application entitled 'Where are the Firefights' - or Onde Tem Tiroteio? - has similar objectives to that of the application designed by Amnesty. A volunteer that helps maintain the Onde Tem Tiroteio app, Henrique Coelho Caamano said the main goal or objective of the real-time 'smart app' is to keep innocent civilians out of the way of stray bullets.

He said, "Our job here is not to denounce anyone, we do not have a direct focus on the police or on the drug gangs. Our focus is really to get people out of the way of stray bullets."

While gunfire, high murder rates and violence is not a new phenomenon to Rio de Janeiro, recently the city has been stunned a series of incidents involving stray bullets.

Brazilians were horrified of the news of a bullet striking a baby boy while still in his mother's womb. Claudineia dos Santos, who was nine months pregnant at the time of the shooting, was struck by a stray bullet that hit the spine of her unborn child. Police and drug gangs had been engaging in a gun fight in the slum where she lived when she was struck. After an emergency cesarean, doctors said the boy was on life support and left a paraplegic. The mother is in stable condition.

Data released by the state's security secretariat indicates that the murder rate has spiked by 11% in twelve months, whilst the number of individuals killed by police in the first half of this jump jumped a whopping 50% compared to same period the previous year.

However, it has been disclosed that the Rio state does not record people hit by stray bullets, it has claimed that no such category of crime exists in the Brazilian judicial system and suggested that authorities would not be able to come up with an accurate way of measuring it. Rio's local media outlets have reported stray bullet incidents and they have been on rise, much like the general violence in the city - but the hope with the introduction of both these 'smart apps' is that they will significantly reduce the number of citizens being killed by stray bullets.