Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Apps for Personal Safety

Have you ever been in a situation where you wondered if something were to happen to me, how could I get help as soon as possible?  Now you can have some piece of mind by downloading one of the many personal safety apps listed below. Some of the apps do have a monthly membership fee, which is clearly noted. However, if you are looking for something to increase your safety posture, it may be a wise investment to make.
Note that none of these applications are specifically recommended by RiskPA, and are included here for informational purposes only.  
WatchOver Me  (The Personal Safety App)
Protect yourself and your loved ones by turning your iPhone into a personal safety device! Whether you're going for a run, walking to your car, walking home, taking a cab, or meeting someone for the first time, all you have to do is let the app know and it'll watch over you throughout your event. If you fail to check-in safely once you're done, Watch Over Me will send an automated alert out to your emergency contacts via SMS, email, or Facebook, provide your emergency contacts with your most recent location via GPS and turn on your iPhone's camera + audio recording functions to let your loved ones know what's going on. If you need to trigger an emergency alert immediately? Just shake your phone and an alert will be sent out.
Note that video or audio taping of others without their knowledge and consent may be illegal in some states, and thus inadmissible as evidence.  You should familiarize yourself with your local and state privacy laws.

OnWatch™  (The Personal Safety App for College Students)
“Winner of the Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge” sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. OnWatch™ gives you the tools to alert the people you trust when you need help. Six customizable alert modes allow you the flexibility to alert your friends, your campus police, local 911 or a combination of all three whenever you need them and includes a timer feature if you are, for instance, going out for a run and want to let your contacts know when you should be expected back.

This application requires an iWitness subscription for $2.50/month.iWitness is designed to help protect you and those you care about by providing a virtual witness to any situation that feels threatening. By capturing audio and video at the outset of an incident and sending it to a secure server that can be made available to law enforcement, iWitness functions as the ultimate deterrent to crime.  Your GPS coordinates are recorded and transported along with the audio/video.If the incident escalates, touch the screen once more and the following happens 911 is called, then a text/email is sent to as many as six contacts, alerting them of the incident and then a loud alarm is sounded by your phone.

This app is for any woman with an iPhone. Designed for anyone who wants an easy-to-use system to alert friends when in a threatening situation. As fully functional as those apps which require you to subscribe to a monthly/yearly service plan, Circle of 6 has an unobtrusive screen that's simple to operate. Two taps will send out one of three predetermined text messages to 6 contacts of your choice including a call for help getting home that automatically includes an address and map of your exact location, or a request for a phone call from you to break up a tense situation. The app also contains pre-programmed national hotline numbers and a local number you can customize for campus security, police or 911. Circle of 6 is the winner of the Department of Health and Human Services / White House "Apps Against Abuse" Challenge.

A personal safety alarm that sends an emergency message to your chosen contacts with the push of a single button.  The free version allows you to set up a safety net of "Guardians" who can respond to your SOS text message; one Guardian you designate will receive a phone call.(Both versions give you an unlimited number of Guardians available by text message; the subscription version gives you up to 3 Guardians who can be called simultaneously.) All Guardians receive a text message with a link to a map showing your location via GPS. You can also program a Fake Incoming Call if you are threatened, with six options for when the call should be initiated (immediately, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.) The subscription version of bSafe gives you two additional levels of safety: a Risk Mode with real time GPS tracking of your position, and a Timer Mode with automatic alarm activation (e.g. if you don't log in after the programmed time period, your Guardians will receive an alert with your entire route mapped out.) The cost for the bSafe Premium subscription is $1.99/month or $14.99/year.

Guardly is a personal safety service that instantly connects you with your safety network and authorities in an emergency. This app differs from others in that it places a phone call to your contacts with your name, exact location, the type of emergency. There's also a profile page where you can include personal information such as birthdate, eye/hair color, height, weight, blood type, plus medical information including existing conditions, allergies, medications, your doctor's name and phone number, insurance details and policy number. The subscription service enables responders to connect by conference call, and also texts/emails the group a link to an emergency response site where they can exchange messages, send photos, and locate each other on a map. The paid version also includes live location tracking and a direct connection to 911. Guardly Premium is $1.99/month or $19.99/year.

This application is centered on a timer that you set when, for example, you go out for a run. If you don’t check in safely when your timer is up, the app notifies your contacts. StaySafe sends your GPS location via email or SMS, and you can add the details of your trip or event so your contacts know that they’re receiving an alert because, say, you haven’t checked in from your typical 7 p.m. jog. StaySafe also has an Auto-Inform Service, which automatically informs your selected contacts when you start and when you manually stop, so your contacts know when there’s a possibility they’ll get an alert from you. In addition to Auto-Inform, StaySafe provides its users with a two-PIN verification system: One is your safe PIN, which you enter to cancel alarms and alerts. The other is a duress PIN, which you can use in case someone is threatening you and making you enter a PIN to cancel the alert.

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