Personal Safety Apps: Extra Eyes and Ears In Potentially Dangerous Situations

Your smartphone is also your I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up device. All you need is a personal safety app that checks in with you and alerts your emergency contacts if you don’t respond.

Safety apps range from bare-bones basic to highly customizable with GPS coordinates and live streaming — all you need is the Internet, WiFi or cell service to make them work. Plus the device that’s already in your pocket. Here are four of the best:

Kitestring is a simple, Web-based check-in app. Sign up and tell it when it should check in with you. If you don’t respond to the check-in text, it texts an alert message to your emergency contacts. You can personalize the alert message and get 15 “trips” and one emergency contract for the free plan. For $3/month you can get the Plus plan that includes unlimited trips and contacts and a perennial mode that checks up on you as often as you ask it to.

Bugle is a free iPhone app designed for active people that lets you set up check-in times, send automated texts and emails to contacts, stores recent activities so you can reuse them (handy if you’re walking your dog or going out for a run), and stores multiple contacts that you can assign to different activities. If you’re fine but were late checking in, Bugle automatically sends follow-up messages to your contacts stating that you are safe. Making apologies is up to you.

SafeTrek is an iOS and Android app that uses GPS. If you feel unsafe, you open the app and hold your thumb on the on-screen safe button. Once you’re safe, you release the button and enter your PIN. If you don’t enter your pin, SafeTrek notifies the police and gives them your location. A live SafeTrek team member stays in contact with you via text or phone and can call an ambulance or fire truck per your request. After a free 30-day trial it costs $2.99/month or $29/year. Gifts subscriptions are available.

Parachute is a free iOS and Android app that maps your location and discreetly records and live streams audio and video. It also tracks your altitude so emergency help will know which floor you’re on. Parachute will call, text and email your emergency contacts but it doesn’t call 911 — it leaves that to your contacts. It also saves the incident recordings so you can access them even if your phone is destroyed. Or you can delete the recordings after 24 hours.

Use what you already have, too.
Keep in mind that your iOS or Android phone has built-in personal security features. You can call 911 from the passcode screen without unlocking the phone by tapping the Emergency link at the bottom, then dialing 911 (or other emergency number). If you want your medical information accessible, like your blood type, allergies and emergency contacts, you can enter Medical ID information on your iPhone contact card or Android owner info settings. The information isn’t shared with other apps.

Mobility security apps for businesses offer similar personal tracking and security features.
Companies can use tracking apps like these to help keep their employees safe when performing high-risk duties, going into dangerous neighborhoods or spending time out in the field. Services from Blueforce, StaySafe Business and others track and monitor employees through dashboards and allow for proactive interaction, like turning on smartphone or tablet microphones if it appears there might be trouble. Panic buttons included!

Leapfrog manages tools like these for our clients — us frogs like to keep people safe!

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