Head of NKRA Secretariat, Selangor Police Headquarters

The Problem

When an emergency happens requiring the assistance of police, emergencies had to be conveyed via phone calls or text messages in order to alert and gain police assistance. In both methods, critical information such as personal particulars, real-time location and current situation at hand have to be relayed accurately before any assistance is to be deployed.
This, however, proved to be a big challenge to both parties of caller and police, as there could be multiple communication barriers during the reporting. Being in an already tense and disconcerting situation, the victim has the tendency to be incoherent; be it language barrier or time limitation in a highly distressing situation. In addition to this communication issue with the general public, minorities such as the deaf and mute have an almost impossible task when it comes to emergency reporting via this same method.
Another main challenge is providing the real time location in order for the police response team to reach the scene in the shortest time possible. As crime could happen anywhere, including places where one is not familiar with, poses a challenge for the victim to inform the police of one’s exact location. This is even harder if the victim is moving in a vehicle where real time location has to be informed.
Thirdly, if the victim is in a location that is out of network coverage area or if the line drops, the victim would need to recall and initiate the entire reporting process again when communication network becomes available.
Fourthly, with the general centralized call center that handles to receive emergencies call and then pass to the relevant police command center upon knowing the location of victim, takes up valuable time as information has to be relayed from one layer to another.
Fifthly, due to the lack of real-time identification of victim and criminal, the emergency response team deployed would have difficulty in locating the persons involved, especially in crowded areas. Additionally, it is also a challenge to provide the on-going at the scene verbally over the phone or by text.
Hence, the above explains the challenges of reporting a crime that requires immediate attention of police response. These challenges demonstrate the difficulty in alerting the police with critical information and thus resulting in police response team arriving to the scene untimely and unprepared. These problems, when overcome, support in reducing crime and gains public confidence of the police force.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
MyDistress is an easy-to-use mobile application which allows the public to efficiently report any emergency and request for police assistance with just a press of a button without needing additional hardware, being supported by all major mobile platforms such as Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. This application can be easily downloaded at
With an easy one-step push of a button, the victim could efficiently alert the police of an emergency together with one’s personal particulars, real-time location and the on-going at scene. By allowing users to preset their vehicle, home, office and personal particulars including a photo of themselves enhance the efficiency of information conveyed to the police response team especially easy identification should they require assistance in an emergency. MyDistress allows police response team to track the victim’s real-time location even while on the move utilizing the GPS technology of the smart phones. More importantly, MyDistress also enables police response team to know the real-time on-goings at the scene via the victim’s smart phones camera of video and audio feed. These recordings could be very useful in court as evidence against the perpetrators of crime. Additionally, MyDistress needs only to be turn on once by the user where its distress signal are transmitted regularly in overcoming the challenge of network black spot. Hence, vast public including the minorities of deaf society greatly benefits from this ease of alerting police with a push of a button on their mobile devices when compared to making a call or sending a text message during an emergency.
In Malaysia, police response teams are managed by 150 District Control Centre (DCC) and monitored by 14 Central Control Centre (CCC). By moving away from the centralization alert system where calls were received by general centralize call centre which then passes on to CCC and then DCC, MyDistress instead sends a direct distress alert from the emergency location to the nearest district police station (DCC), and an alert to the CCC; all done simultaneously and automatically. This decentralization system allows information to be conveyed in a more direct and conclusive form without garbled verbal or textual narrative during a disquieting situation, with the District Control Centre taking action while the Central Control Centre monitors the progress of the situation. Hence, the police department has benefited with the reduced time for critical information to reach front-line police response team, enabling immediate action for rescue operation.
With MyDistress, the management has being able to instill transparency measuring police response time, as the service requires the victim to switch off the distress signal upon arrival of police response team. With the information logs and time stamps to individual emergency alerts, these enable performance management in setting targets and tracking results.
Hence, MyDistress has proved to reduce fear of crime among public with the ease of alerting police in an emergency and contribute to reducing crime rate as it enables police response team to reach the scene efficiently whilst enhancing transparency of service rendered.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The key stakeholders in this service are the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) with participation of Ministry of Home Affairs and Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) and the vast public.
In the government’s effort in building public confidence of the government administration, a special unit chaired by Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) has been tasked to enhance public service under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP). With one of the key initiatives in delivering The National Key Result Area (NKRA) as Reducing Crime, PEMANDU oversee the implementation, assess the progress, facilitate as well as support the delivery and drive the progress. Together with Ministry of Home Affairs, initiatives to address effort of reducing crime are defined for the Royal Malaysian Police.
With its objective to reduce crime rate and fear of crime, the Royal Malaysian Police accessed its service and possibilities of enhancing its efficiency with embracing technologies in sync with current trend. Together with Convep Mobilogy Sdn Bhd which specializes in mobile technology as their technology partner, the Royal Malaysian Police set the objective for new solution for ease of public to alert the police response team in an emergency and provides the police response team with all critical information enabling quick response, where the entire process must be able to be measured and reviewed. With these objective set, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) whom heads the Royal Malaysian Police together with the Selangor Chief Police Officer (CPO) whom leads the police in the state of Selangor decided to kick off MyDistress service in the state of Selangor as the pilot project.
For the implementation, the software and hardware was developed, supplied and maintained by Convep Mobilogy Sdn Bhd for ease of operation. The Information Technology department together with Operation Center department within Royal Malaysian Police was tasked to implement internally in ensuring the officers are well versed in operating the system.
The vast public was then informed of this service which could be easily downloaded and installed into their smart phones. This service is then ready to be used by the public.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The initiative was launched to public on 24th August 2011 by Selangor Chief Police Officer.

The main objective was to reduce crime rate and increase public confidence on service by the police.
In achieving the objective of increasing public confidence, it has been identified for a need where public could request for police assistance easily. While in achieving the objective of reducing crime rate, there is a need for police to reach to the scene of crime quickly, so the chances of apprehending the perpetrators are higher.

In determining on the implementation, it was identified that the initiative has to be well received by the vast public. Hence, upon study that shows the growing trend of smart phone adoption by the vast public, MyDistress was developed as mobile application where it does not required public to acquire additional hardware or a need for distribution channel. With mobile application being a trend, it was also easier to gain the buy-in of the public with a new concept but familiar technology.

From the police force perspective, the initiative must reduce the time in receiving alerts, provides real-time information of exact location and on-goings at scene enabling reach to scene of crime in the shortest time possible increasing the chance of apprehending the perpetrators. In order to achieve the need for quick information dissemination, decentralization strategy was engaged where information are channelled directly to the District Control Centre for immediate action.

For a strategy to be successful, the initiative must be able to be tracked and reviewed in enhancing transparency of police service. This instils responsibilities amongst the response team for swift actions.

MyDistress is the brainchild of the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) and PEMANDU. It was born from a series of surveys and workshops conducted by PEMANDU that accessed the current situations of the country with set objectives and targets of reducing crime

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Brainstorming sessions was first held through various workshops in January 2011. As a result from these workshops, it was identified that a tool was needed to overcome the difficulties faced by the public when they needed help from the police during emergencies.

The enabler to having a successful tool is divided into 2 aspects. The first aspect is the hardware and software where implementation of the system was conducted after which it underwent an exhaustive testing. During the implementation phase, each district in the state had to be mapped out and zoned in order for the system to determine autonomously which district control centre should receive the emergency alert enabled by the decentralization technology. Secondly, each control centre was equipped with hardware of computer, TV screen for monitoring, sirens for alarms and internet connections. During the testing phase, a task force was then set up to test the service’s stability and reliability. Upon passing the internal test of the service, it was officially launched in Selangor to public on 24th August 2011. The other aspect was the people. Standard operating procedure (SOP) had to be drawn up and training was conducted for the control center personnel on how to use the system and police response team in responding to alert from MyDistress. This demonstrates that the implementation process was rather easy.

Public was also educated on the use of MyDistress service where it is meant for emergency use only requesting immediate police assistance. Awareness campaign was held in introducing the service to public.

Periodical reviews involving the top management with the task force are conducted to monitor and ensure the successful operation of the service. In ensuring the transparency of service, performance management measuring KPIs implemented with the periodical review.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacle faced with this initiative was mindset, both from police force and public.

Internally, resistance came from the control centre personnel and police response team within the police force. Since this is a new routine in comparison to their usual day-to-day job, the changes was not easily implemented and accepted. To overcome this, the top management strategized a single-phase transformation by setting specific goals. By utilizing this plan, resistance would likely be encountered by some quarters; however personnel had no choice but to follow the direction setting. Over time as others have embraced the system since they have seen the results it delivers and the easiness of usage, the remaining personnel started becoming more receptive. As the learning curve wasn’t very steep, everyone eventually was able to familiarize themselves with the system and thus instill it into their daily operations.

An external obstacle was also encountered from the public. Their perception of the police force utilizing such technology seemed hard to believe but was overcome with the success stories they heard and read from various sources such as mainstream and social media. Road-shows were also conducted to educate them about the system.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
With respect to monetary terms to implement the system, it was minimal as approximately only USD 30,000 was spent on hardware to equip the Royal Malaysian Police – Selangor contingent control centre and its 14 districts control centers to begin operations of MyDistress.

Existing headcount is being utilized and hence there were no additional cost impacting human resources. The personnel whom operate the MyDistress system are the same personnel that are already based in the control center. All that is needed is training on how to use this system for the inclusion into their existing workflow.

Technical resources were outsourced to Convep Mobilogy Sdn Bhd. The company provides an end to end solution in ensuring that the robustness and reliability of the system is managed.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
MyDistress was implemented in the entire state of Selangor, which consists of 1 central control centre and 14 district control centre in total. It is financially self-sustainable operationally by utilizing existing headcount as it only requires personnel to be equipped with the necessary training on using the system and integrating it into their current duties. Meanwhile, Convep Mobilogy Sdn Bhd acts as the technology partner providing technical advice and services.
Data obtained from the usage of the MyDistress system is highly reviewed by the top management; it provides them with data such as response time when a distress alert is received. This data is then used to perform analytical analysis and set key performance indicator (KPI) in order to improve service further.
With favorable reviews submitted regularly and word of mouth from existing users, the number of public users increases daily. News of MyDistress has also spread to other police agencies around the world including Singapore Police Force, Indonesian Police Force, Hong Kong Police Force, Sri Lanka Police Force and they have shown great interest in bringing this system to their own country to be replicated.
MyDistress has been earmarked in the Malaysia government’s roadmap (GTP 2.0 that will start from year 2013 until 2015) to be expanded nationwide to the other remaining 13 states that has over 140 district control centres.
The above clearly shows that the initiative is self sustainable and can be easily replicated throughout the country.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The success of this initiative is contributed greatly by the users of the system. Over the period of 1 year since its launch, the system has recorded 140,000 users. From this number of users, there has been 192 distress alerts sent consisting of 102 were criminal related cases, 5 traffic and 85 test calls.
The Star Newspaper, a mainstream newspaper in Malaysia, reported on 2nd April 2012 that “MyDistress Proven Efficient” highlighting two incidents, one where a woman activated MyDistress when four men armed with machetes attempted to rob her in Sungai Way after midnight on 16th September 2011, and police came to her rescue within five minutes and arrested the four. The second incident occurred a month later when a man used MyDistress to alert the police when he saw four men also armed with machetes break into his neighbor’s home, where the police reached the scene in six minutes and successfully arrested the trespassers.
This initiative has helped bring down the crime index in the state of Selangor and helped raised the perception of the public on the service provided by the police. As the general public has discovered how easy it was to alert the police in the event of an emergency through their smart phone, their confidence has grown and feedbacks have been coming in through various channels such as mainstream media, social media and emails. A total of 450 positive feedbacks have been recorded and it has been known to be usually difficult to receive feedback for a public service.
For the first time in 4 years, street crime and index crime came down by 35% and 15% respectively, which is the highest drop ever since the Independence of the country. This system is part of the overall initiative by the Government to reduce crime and reduce the fear of crime. The system has also enhanced public engagement as it empowers the public with a tool to alert the police easily for a quicker response.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Head of NKRA Secretariat, Selangor Police Headquarters
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Mohamed Mokhsein Mohamed Zon
Title:   Mr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   0192374715
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   NKRA Secretariat, Level 1, Tower 1, Selangor Police Headquarters, Section 9, Shah Alam
Postal Code:   40912
City:   Shah Alam
State/Province:   Selangor
Country:   Malaysia

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