- Following the police mistreatment of his Black friend, Aaditya Agrawal of New Jersey went to work on the app that records police encounters and shares.
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 this year has sparked off an intense urgency for change. 17-year-old New Jersey High School student Aaditya Agrawal, the creator of PulledOver is the young boy who chose to make that change tangible.
PulledOver is an android app that not only records your interaction with the police but is equipped to instantly share the footage on social media platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
Explaining the working of his app to American Kahani Agrawal says, “You can download PulledOver in the Google Play Store, and you don’t have to sign in or create an account to use the app. Just launch the app and you’re taken to the PulledOver Screen.”
Google Play explains the user experience with 4 easy steps:
RECORD – If you have been pulled over by a police officer, with one hold of a button on the pulled over mobile app, you are able to start recording the situation.
NOTIFY – Instantly notify your emergency contact of your location at that time.
SHARE – At the users’ discretion the video can also be shared with the rest of the PulledOver community (anyone who has the Pulled Over App – no need to sign up)
WITNESS –- The videos can be viewed by anyone with the PulledOver app and can be used to spread awareness through its in-built sharing feature.
Agrawal says he realized the relationship between the police and the community is not always as it should be. The mistreatment of his friend by the police due the color of his skin made him work on the app with more ferocity, receiving tremendous support from this friend who recognized how useful this app can be.
“As someone who has been the victim of being pulled over and mistreated, I know how it feels. The fact that you can notify your contact is quite lifesaving in those instances,” Leah Mercer, a user commented on the app page, recognizing the relevance of this app.
Agrawal, who moved to the U.S. from Zurich, Switzerland just over a year back with his parents Vijay and Shally Agrawal, taught himself all about apps watching YouTube videos. It took him around 5-6 months to build the PulledOver app.
“I’ve been working on building apps for the past 3-4 years. My first app, SportConnect, that helps sport enthusiasts connect gave me the confidence and experience to come up with PulledOver.”
The overarching ambition and a challenge for Agrawal has been to keep the working of his app ‘simple’ and ‘accessible’.
“The last thing you want after being pulled over is to have to sign in to your google account or worry about notification settings,” he says.
For Agrawal, the app is a tool made solely for the benefit of the community. “I keep listening to what the community needs and what it wants from it. Without the community this will not exist.” Agrawal says he listens to all advice that users offer and is working on how to better the usability of the app, including voice recognition.
“Striking a balance between adding new features and ease of use is critical”, he says.
People willing to volunteer and contribute to the initiative has also been overwhelming. “The positive response is amazing to see,” he says.
Apart from recording police abuses, Agrawal says this will also be useful to record positive encounters with the police. “If your experience is positive you can share that with the community and celebrate the good job done by the police. Positivity impacts policing.”
PulledOver is steadily rising the popularity chart with close to 3,800 installs as of August 12, barely eight weeks since its launch on June 20. Currently on Android, Agrawal is hopeful he will be able to translate it soon into iOS language as well.
Agrawal is just your teenager next door who loves to hang out with friends and family, play cricket, badminton and learn about Behavioral Economics. With his eyes set on universities like Rice, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford to study Computer Science and Economics and two apps to his name at only 17 years, this young man is sure to shine like his name ‘Aaditya’ which means ‘sun’ in Hindi.
Nupur Bhatnagar is a lawyer by training, an entrepreneur and a storyteller. She is rationalist and an art enthusiast who is fascinated by history. She loves to read and watch historical dramas — sometimes even sees herself in them. Nupur lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.