Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cell Phone Self Defense

You probably already think of your cell phone as a safety device.  How about taking fuller advantage of its possibilities with some of the specially designed apps you could put on it, most of them completely free.

Among the list below are some first-generation safety programs, aimed at girls who go out in a dangerous world.  A bit damsel-in-distress oriented, but still useful.  Others are for people of any gender who go to remote or dangerous places, and could use a lifeline.  Suggestion:  Take a look at several before you decide, maybe even download and try out a few.  Most are free and the most expensive has a 30-day free trial.

Circle of  6 is an award-winning app for iPhone and Android.  It sends SOS alerts from your phone, using GPS, to notify your selected circle of 6 about your situation, to call you or come get you.  Preprogrammed hotline numbers and a local emergency number of your choice.

Red Panic Button ($2.99) is an iPhone and Android app that, when set up by an adult, looks perfect for a child or older adult who might need rescuing - like missing a bus connection - or even safely staying home alone.

MyForce  puts a live security guard in your pocket for $15.00 a month.  With the slogan "Never walk alone" you send an alert and their 24/7 safety agents act instantly, pinpointing your exact location and tracking your whereabouts. There's no need to tell them where you are or what's happening.  They listen in and assess the details.  30-day free trial.  For Android, iPhone, BlackBerry.

bSafe You says "peace of mind is priceless" but they also position this app as a lifestyle assistant, which is a little weird, but in a way refreshing.  Claims to work everywhere in all countries, for iPhone and Android, the features list starts with keeping track of friends and where they are.  Next comes a "Hide" feature when you don't want to share your location.  Then, a map feature and a flashlight.

BSafe Fake Call to get you out of meetings or dates.  Make the phone ring with a tap so you can answer and make a getaway.   Easy private check-in and meet-up features.

Help is one tap away.  "When bSafe You is open on your screen it forces the screen to stay open for safety right at your fingertips."  Nice!  If alarm is triggered you set off an optional siren, and bSafe starts recording video and voice as well as broadcasting your location.  Video, voice, location, and time stamps are stored securely on servers to share with police. 

Set a timer to follow you while jogging or hiking.  If you have not checked in on time bSafe alarm will alert your Guardians.  Your Guardians (people you choose) will get access to your full trace from when Timer Mode was activated as well as evidence gathered by video and voice. 

WNL:  This is an interesting and creatively-featured social and safety app all in one.  And it's free for iPhone and Android.  Worth a long look.

EmergenSee personal security system is an app free for families, individuals, and college students, with additional service applications for colleges, businesses and government agencies.  Review a list of features the safety app includes here.  When you send an alert, your contacts are notified along with 911 if you wish, and video and audio are activated on your phone.  There is also a stealth recording feature where the phone appears to be off yet is still recording video and audio.  I believe this may be unique to EmergenSee.

This company offering the free app is geared towards all sort of business, university, and international applications.  Talk to them about your needs and they may have some ideas.  

Wickr Leave No Trace is an app for one of your other security needs - the ability to communicate securely.  From the website:   
The Internet is forever.  Your private communications don´t need to be. Wickr is a free app that provides: military-grade encryption of text, picture, audio and video messages, sender-based control over who can read messages, where and for how long, best available privacy, anonymity and secure file shredding features, security that is simple to use.
For Android and iPhone, and its Free.

WNL:  This is an amazing and expanding side of personal technology that has the potential to change women's lives.  Indian women are creating apps and the YWCA of Singapore has one for the Android OS as well.  Amnesty International is building an app for journalists and activists in danger, which turns out to be more complicated than you might think.  Community RED, a woman-run startup in Washington, D.C., is interfacing with journalists in danger to come up with hacks and applications to keep news flowing and people safe. 

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