Coming soon: App that displays rocket alerts on streaming services

Two 15-year-old Israelis developed an app that would allow any Android supporting system that operates online to alert when a rocket alarm goes off in real time.

Israelis run for shelter as a siren sounds during a rocket attack near Yad Mordechai at the Israeli side of the Israel Gaza border July 14, 2018  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israelis run for shelter as a siren sounds during a rocket attack near Yad Mordechai at the Israeli side of the Israel Gaza border July 14, 2018
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A new Israeli app developed by two youths will allow for rocket alarms alerts to show on Android-supported streaming services and Internet apps. "Who wouldn't want to know that what they're doing helps save lives?" the two told Mako.
15-year-old Sderot resident Nir Vaknin realized that smart TVs and streaming services require an alert system for the many Gaza border community residents who use those services. He contacted 15-year-old Itai Goli from Ness Ziona to develop the app.
"I am a customer of one of the streaming services and I realized that the broadcast, and subsequently the alert, is 30 seconds late," Vaknin explained to Mako about how he came up with the idea. "In Sderot, there are 15 seconds between the alert and when the rocket falls, so such a late alert on TV becomes irrelevant. There are areas in the city where the alarm is less audible – and of course there are times when people are listening to music, watching a movie, or are with many people at home, and because of the noise created, they cannot hear the alarm outside."
"The app can be downloaded from the Android app store on the TV," Vaknin explained. "There are smart TVs like Sony and Toshiba that support it, as well as some streamers, like Cellcom, Sting and of course Xiaomi, as well as Nvidia Shield. After downloading the app, you can choose the area where the app would alert when the alarm goes off, unlike Home Front Command alerts on new channels that show alerts for all areas in Israel.
"After choosing the area, you will receive an indication on any channel or app," he said. "So essentially, you could listen to a song on YouTube, watch a show on Netflix or watch a sports channel, Viva, Children's Channel, or even do other things while the TV is on – and when a rocket is fired to the area, there would be both a visual and sound alert of your choice."
Vaknin and Goli spent several months developing the app and are already working on several updates.
"We're currently working on accessibility issues," Vaknin describes. "We are recording the names of all the towns, so when the next update goes live, the alert would say 'Rocket alert Ashkelon.'"
"We are also currently working with the Transportation Ministry and the National Road Safety Authority to have the app installed in vehicles that have an Android operating system. That way, drivers will receive an alert while driving through an area where the alarm goes off according to their GPS signal," Vaknin revealed.
The Home Front Command welcomed the initiative, and even assisted the two with several aspects. As the app was not developed by the command, it wished to stress that there may be some malfunctions.
"The primary directive is to rely on the Home Front Command's alerts and instructions, as they are the official authority," Vaknin acknowledged. "However, several cellphone apps were developed lately that add to the Home Front Command alert. As I understand, a development like ours would take the Home Front Command a long time, and while our solution is not official, it is a blessed act."
"As a resident of Sderot, I lost a childhood friend – Ella Abekasis, may she rest in peace – an event that was very hard for me," Vaknin shared. "I think that the reality of over a million citizens living in this unbearable situation – of being under the threat of rockets constantly fired towards their towns – is an unacceptable reality. But I am not a military man, nor the chief of staff – and of course I am not the prime minister. I cannot present a solution, so I made an app to better deal with the situation.
"There is no doubt that there is great satisfaction in the app's success," he said. "Who wouldn't want to know that what they're doing helps save lives?"