Mechatronic students aim to solve Kenya’s insecurity problems through innovation

Much has been said about the state of insecurity that has engulfed our country which have left many people in a state of despair. For many people, the tendency is to keep away from crowded buildings in a bid to protect themselves from danger. However, Michael Mumo, 21, Emmanuel Kinyanjui, 20, James Kimani 22, and Iyan Bett, 22 have decided to go a step further. They want to use innovation to address  this problem once and for all. They are students in the Department of Mechatronics, JKUAT.

They have come up with a security system that can, as they say, be used to identify everyone who enters a building using near field communication (NFC) technology.

If implemented, this system can help avoid the hustle involved in getting into buildings where one has to submit to body searches, write down their name, national identification card (ID) or passport number and give details of the person they are going to see and the floor he or she is on each time.

All this is in a bid to ensure that security remains tight. Sadly, this is not always a foolproof security measure as many people, particularly in cases where ID is not left behind, give false names or use illegible handwriting because they feel put out or do not understand the reasons behind the scrutiny at the front desk.

Through this system, these students hope to make the process of logging identities more effective by automating access to buildings.

According to Mr Kinyanjui, the system, which relies on contactless technology, can also be used to automatically regulate the number of people who access public places.

The students says the system will work even better once the country shifts to automated national ID cards.

“The system involves a server — we are currently using a laptop — which records all details, including ID number, time and date of entry after you tap your ID on the reader module that will be placed at the entrance of public buildings,” Kinyanjui said.

“With this, we shall be able to know who went where and at what time, helping security organs with intelligence gathering,” added Mr Kimani.

The group is also hoping to modify their system more to get it to work in tandem with the planned installation of CCTV cameras so that the data recorded includes an image of the card holder.

They will pilot the system at iHub offices in Nairobi after winning the Intel Galileo Challenge 2014.

This article first appeared in the title, ‘Could these young techies have answer to Kenya’s insecurity’

When asked to provide a brief description of their project, this is what the young innovators had to say;

“Inspired to help our nation curb the increasing trend in insecurity and terrorism, we ventured into the world of Radio Frequency Identification systems (R.F.I.D) as well as the emerging technology of Near Field Communication (N.F.C.) systems.

Using simple and accessible components such as RFID/NFC cards, a RFID/NFC reader, a servo motor, a piezo buzzer and most importantly, the brain of our system, the intel Galileo development board, we developed a system to show how applicable RFID/NFC technology can be used to monitor movement within our buildings, restrict access to authorized people as well as bar intruders from accessing our premises at all costs.

This system also has the ability to monitor the flow of people within a place so that at any given moment in time, the authorities can provide resources within these environs to cater for the needs of the current population hence ensuring better service provision. E.g. if a particular environ has a higher population of people accessing the venue, the authorities should be able to increase the number of security agents to provide sufficient security. Thus, this ensures the optimum utilization of a limited resource’s capability to satisfy a human want or need.

In addition to this, we also worked on several other use cases to show how RFID/NFC technology can be used to enhance user experience such as being used as intelligent identification card systems that can replace all the cards in one’s wallet. This one card will then serve as ones identification card, voter’s card, medical cover card, driving license, banking card i.e. an all in one card.

Our vision and dream is to see the implementation of these systems in our daily living to boost our ability as human beings to safeguard our environs as well as enhance user experience.”


The Department of Mechatronic Engineering is proud of the efforts of these innovative students and wishes them all the best moving forward.



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