The Sri Lankan Police built a website to help find your phone. How is it one month later?

It’s been almost a month since the Sri Lankan police launched a website to help you find a lost phone. That website is www.ineed.police.lk and when it launched it was a terrible mess. Assuming you could even sign up you’d be greeted with a series of “Connection Reset” errors. But when we originally spoke with the police department, they admitted that the website was broken.

Typically, one wouldn’t expect any project by the government to improve from its original stage. The exception being those tied to election promises of politicians. But fast forward one month later, the site has been completely revamped. So how well does this website do its job now? That’s what we went to find out.

A better first impression

When we visited the website originally, its homepage looked terrible. One could describe it as a horrible train wreck that we couldn’t stop looking at. Thankfully things have changed now. While the design could be improved, at the very least it doesn’t look like something designed in MS Paint. More importantly, the website doesn’t keep crashing.

Police | Website | Phone | Sri Lankan Police

ineed.police.lk now has a better homepage compared to when it launched

So when you go to the homepage, you’ll find a login option that actually works. Additionally, there’s also an about section that helps you find your phone’s IMEI number and a contact us section. There’s also a series of instructional videos by the Sri Lankan Police that explain how to use the website in-depth. Alongside these, there’s also a button at the top where you can register to use the website.

This was where we were a bit cautious about our expectations. When we took a look at the website originally one month ago, it took us almost 2 hours of “Connection Reset” errors before we were able to register for it. So when we tried logging in this time and got “Login Failed” errors we were worried. With a “Forgot Password” option missing, we decided to create another account.

Police | Website | Phone | Sri Lankan Police

What the signup form for ineed.police.lk asks for from you before signing up. We’re not sure why they need to ask which country we are from though.

Thankfully, this time we were able to create an account without any errors. But one has to question why some information on this registration form was necessary. Why does it ask for our name with initials and then again for our full name? Why does the Sri Lankan Police department need to ask which country we are from when the answer is obvious?

Exploring the website

Once we created our account and logged in, we were greeted to a relatively empty page. This was minimalism taken to the extreme. It actually took us a minute to realize I was staring at an empty table. This table is meant to show the complaints you’ve lodged with police of any phones you might have lost. Beyond that, this web page is relatively empty save for a few options above the table.

Police | Website | Phone | Sri Lankan Police

What you’ll see after you log in

On the top left corner, you’ll find an option to find a phone. When I clicked it I was directed to a page to enter the IMEI number of a phone. In case you’re lost, IMEI number refers to the unique ID number assigned to nearly every mobile phone. It’s a 14-digit string that includes information on the origin, model, and the serial number of the mobile device. In the event your phone is stolen, the police can use it to track your phone.

Similarly, your network provider can block your phone from accessing the network. This works even if your SIM has been removed. So, I entered the IMEI number of one of the phones we had in office. However, the only result we got a message that read, “IMEI not found.” As such, we’re not sure what exactly this feature is meant to be.

Police | Website | Phone | Sri Lankan

Where to find your IMEI number (Image credits: GadgetHacks.com)

The only other option besides logging out was to update my profile. It was only after watching the videos I learned that there were two other options. However, these options were hidden until the profile had data such as age, ethnicity, and religion. Why the above options were hidden until this data was entered is again a mystery. Especially since the hidden options called “Mobile Phone Details” and “Make a complaint”. If this information was so necessary then shouldn’t it have been asked during the registration?

Registering a complaint about a lost phone

As we were exploring these newly discovered features, the website crashed. We kept refreshing the page but “Connection reset” errors were all we found for half an hour until it came back online. Afterward, we checked the “Mobile Phone Details” page. This is where you can add the details of your lost phone. Here, of course, we found a form that asked for data, which we thought was necessary.

With regards to the “Make a complaint” feature, we didn’t fully test this feature. As none of our phones were lost or stolen, we couldn’t actually register a complaint to see how the Sri Lankan Police department finds stolen phones. But once a phone has been added to the system, you can select it from the table. Afterward, an option appears to file a complaint regarding that specific phone by filling a form, which includes a sample complaint to show you the format.

Things have improved but they can be better

Ultimately, one can’t deny that there has ineed.police.lk has seen a massive improvement. Just one month ago it was a website that was constantly crashing and looked as if it was designed in MS Paint. Today, it’s (relatively) stable and looks decent. In other words, ineed.police.lk is now able to do its job. However, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.

The design could be improved further. This is especially true with forms, which one could argue asks for too much information. One could further argue that features like “Find Phone” should be straightforward to understand and others shouldn’t be hidden until certain is entered into one’s profile. After all, a well-designed website isn’t one that simply looks good but is straightforward to use.

These are valid arguments. Yet, we can’t ignore the fact that the Sri Lankan Police actually improved ineed.police.lk from what it was one month ago. Nonetheless, there is room for improvement. But the optimist in us is hopeful that these improvements will be seen over time. After all, making complaints online without having to travel to the police station, makes life a lot easier.

The post The Sri Lankan Police built a website to help find your phone. How is it one month later? appeared first on README.

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