Aussie Safety App Teams Up With Global Giant
Australian app WanderSafe has potentially saved hundreds of lives by sending alert warnings to loved ones when a person feels unsafe, and now it's teamed up with a global giant in a bid to help more people.
WanderSafe is the creation of Australian Stephenie Rodriguez, who was inspired by her own travels to develop her own app to help people feel more secure in an unfamiliar place or in a dangerous decision.
A recent Mission Australia study found that 50 percent of women don't feel safe when walking outside in the dark, and this empowered Rodriguez to create a free app.
"With so many mindless shootings taking place around the world and women not feeling safe with things like pepper-spray and tasers, I set out to design a holistic solution, not just a band-aid on social issues that are uncomfortable for women to talk about," Rodriguez told 10 daily.
WanderSafe works by sending an SOS message to three people a user has pre-programmed with the exact location of the person in danger who has activated it. It can even be voice activated through Siri.
In a step forward for the app, it has now joined with What3Words, a British-developed app that uses words to pinpoint any location in the world, to within a three by three square.
What3words has divided the world into 57 trillion squares with each given a unique three word combination, instead of using longitude and latitude coordinates.
For example, the words given to area at the front doors of the Sydney Opera House are 'images.fears.stick'.
Gyles Rhys Jones, What3Words chief marketing officer, said the app pinpoints the user's precise location without need for finding a landmark.
"Our idea is simple, but its lifesaving potential is huge," he said.
"If you are in an emergency situation and are unable to describe where you are, it can add even more distress to an already scary situation.
Rodriguez said What3Words is at the "forefront" of usability and accuracy, and both companies have the same mission of helping people navigate the planet safer.
"Longitude and latitude are archaic forms of location identification," she said.
"It makes sense to utilize such accessible and accurate data to save people’s lives through the features offered through WanderSafe."
WanderSafe also alerts users if they are entering a known dangerous area.
Since WanderSafe's launch late last year, the SOS alarm feature has been activated more than 800 times by users, potentially saving many lives.
But Rodriguez believes this collaboration will take the app even further, with the hope that one billion people will be using it by 2025.
"This collaboration simplifies the way help can be dispatched," she said.
"This could be a festival campground, an unknown location in the bush, shopping centre, or even a person’s home.
"It’s great for travellers, commuters, and even victims of human trafficking, who may not know their exact location in a developing country where Google Maps data is inadequate."
When the SOS alarm is activated, it sends the location using the three word method to the designated contacts, narrowing the search to a three metre block.
"In the text message they will also receive your What3Words location code as well as a Google maps link," Rodriguez said.
"The user’s screen will also tell them their What3Words location so it can be easily communicated verbally to emergency services so they can easily locate you."
There are a number of Australian-based safety apps in the market, each with their own unique features for different circumstances.
'bSafe' livestreams and records video when its SOS alarm is activated, and also has a 'fake call' function to for those needing to get out of a worrying situation.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation released the 'Help Me' app, aimed at protecting children. As well as an SOS alarm, the app provides directions to safe places, such as a police station, and emergency numbers.
'Aspire' is a safety app that is disguised to look like a news site. Particularly helpful for people in domestic violence situations, the app offers emergency alerts and information for support.