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In the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the transport app, which until before the war was used to buy metro and bus tickets and to pay for parking spaces, has been transformed into a tool to alert the inhabitants of the Russian bombings and to show the best way fast towards the air-raid shelters. The app, which is called Digital Kievit also functions as a source of information, sending links and updates on the war every day, and as a tool to track down places of public interest, such as pharmacies, humanitarian aid points and petrol stations.
The transformation of the app into a tool to help people and save lives, told the Guardian, was decided 24 hours after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine by the deputy mayor of Kiev, Petro Olenych, who is also responsible for the digital transformation of the city. It complements existing services – for Android phones, for example, Google has provided a similar service that warns users of bombings – and is part of a series of measures, both formal and informal, that have begun taking city dwellers to prepare. the Russian siege and bombing, which are intensifying these days.
The streets in Kiev have been almost deserted for days, except for soldiers and citizen militias who have chosen to join them to fight the Russians. Among other things, they have established roadblocks and closed the streets with rows of tires, ready to be set on fire and thus create smoke screens: a technique adopted in various contexts of urban warfare. Meanwhile, thousands of other people have been living hidden for days in underground shelters: in the cellars of apartment buildings and in the subway, which has now become the main emergency shelter in the city. According to the most recent estimates, about 15 thousand people: they are mainly women and children, camped on the quay with blankets and in some cases camping tents.
In the last two weeks the Kiev Digital app, which is free, has already sent thousands of alerts and today it has approx 1.5 million of users (almost 3 million people live in Kiev, although many have fled and it is therefore impossible to make an exact estimate of how many people are still in the city).
In addition to expanding the operation of the transport app, the local government has also strengthened wifi access throughout Kiev and provided internet connections in more than 200 air-raid shelters, to allow people to stay up to date on what’s going on and maintain contacts with their relatives and friends.
The war completely disrupted the life of Ukrainian cities. In Kiev, those who did not stay in the city to fight or to hide have fled: in recent days the train station has filled with people who have tried to leave the city, sometimes without even knowing where the trains they were boarding were going.
– Read also: How Kiev is preparing for a possible siege