With violence against women getting more gruesome and frequent in India, a new mobile application by a New Zealand developer could offer some safety help.
The free app privately monitors users’ location during an activity or task and raises a pre-set alarm if they don’t ‘’Get Home Safe’.
The app could be helpful for women returning home late at night, elderly going for a walk, children walking home from school alone, and people working unsupervised.
App users register with GHS what they intend on doing, such as walking home after dark, and the time they will be ‘home safe’, for example in 15 minutes.
The app records GPS location data and watches over the user’s movements throughout their chosen activity.
If something unforeseen happens and the user doesn’t stop or extend tracking as planned, an alarm is raised and the GPS information is sent to pre-selected personal emergency contacts.
As the alarm is sent from the GHS servers not the phone, users don’t need a working phone or coverage for the alarm to be raised.
“GHS actually calls for help when you can’t, it’s truly amazing and really could save someone’s life,” says Kiwi entrepreneur Boyd Peacock, who developed the app with design company Firebrand.
“Who knows you’ve gone for that run or bike ride? Who knows you’re walking home late at night from the pub or bus stop, or that you’re driving the back road home this time?
“Who knows where your secret fishing spot is? Who knows exactly where you are working this afternoon? Who will know if you don’t get home safe?
“Regular alarms prompt you to check-in, so if you ever did need help the alarm would be raised far quicker and your last location mapped by our servers,” he says.
Boyd wishes to provide ‘peace of mind’ for families with teenagers doing after school or weekend activities, especially as so many youngsters now have phones.
“GHS is not your mother, your boss or big brother and it’s certainly not the police. GHS does not judge or ask probing questions”.
“The neutrality of GHS provides a guardian for the activities in life that may carry a small element of risk giving people reassurance that their actions are being privately monitored should anything unforeseen happen.
While the app is free to download from iTunes app stores, it is free in the email alert only format. Within the app users can also choose to buy pre-paid text messages for 50 cents each, with a minimum purchase of $2.59, and use the text alert method. Unused text alerts are credited back to users if they check in on time.
Users can opt to send their emergency contacts a pre-trip itinerary to allow them to follow the activity in real time or share ‘home safe’ summaries via social media.
The GHS idea was inspired after Boyd read about a boating accident in Southland’s Foveaux Straight in 2012 when a group of fishermen’s boat sank with all their mobile phones and emergency equipment on board.
“I thought to myself, if only someone was monitoring the use and location of a smart phone on board it could have been apparent much earlier that the fishermen had capsized and even where it happened, the alarm could have been raised much earlier,” Boyd says.
“GHS sends alarms independently of mobile phone coverage so if the fishermen had set regular half hour alarms with GHS then the alarm would have been raised as soon as they missed their first check-in and their last known location identified,” he said.
While the app is currently available only in Apple’s New Zealand App Store, it will be rolled out into the New Zealand Google Play store for Android users late August and then internationally in coming months.