A smartphone or any other portable device can help you avoid dangerous situations. What devices will take care of your safety and how exactly they will do it – we will consider in our new article.
Many women from a young age have heard the same warning from their friends and relatives: do not walk alone. In addition, everyone around is advised to check the rear seats of the car and lock it immediately after the girl takes the driver’s seat. This emphasis on women’s personal responsibility for their safety has been made for several years now, as people rely on two important factors:
- there are many criminals who are not afraid to harm a girl;
- passers-by may not be able (or simply will not want) to help in trouble.
However, many people (not just girls) understand the need for personal protection. They are the ones who came up with the ways in which you can protect yourself in potentially dangerous situations in life.
Journalists from WIRED asked colleagues and acquaintances about what they do to protect themselves from danger, and received a huge list of answers. Some use keys between their fingers in case they have to fight someone off, others carry a jackknife and pepper spray in a jacket or backpack pocket. There are people who take a less aggressive approach – they talk to friends on the phone until they are in a safe place. After analyzing the answers, an interesting question arose: can our gadgets (phones, smart watches, etc.) help us in an emergency?
For a month, they tested built-in smartphone features, third-party apps, Internet-connected jewelry, and other portable devices to see if they could help a person escape a dangerous situation. None of the products tested provide a comprehensive solution for every possible scenario, but they all offer the individual some form of protection .. In some regions, it is illegal to carry a weapon, such as a knife. Using it can put you in even more danger. Thus, the methods that will be presented in this article are an alternative to brandishing weapons. Most gadgets and programs are capable of letting you know when you’re in trouble without having to dial a number or speak up if it’s not safe for you.
Devices and software have been tested with inclusiveness in mind, based on the fact that different groups of people may have different needs for personal safety: to feel more or less vulnerable in dangerous situations. We believe that the tips below will be useful not only for women, as men are also at risk of attack and can use these devices to protect themselves.
Before you buy something…
The built-in security features of Apple Watch vary from model to model. Be sure to read them before purchasing a particular item.
Before you take the big step and invest in one of the personal security products or software, take a look at a few general guidelines to follow:
- Testing. A new device will not do you any good if you use it for the first time right away in a real emergency. Once you have unpacked the purchased product or installed the desired application, you must perform several tests: turn the alarm on and off, send your location to a friend, see how you can activate the SOS function.
- Trial SOS signal. Speaking of the last point in tip 1, we want to note that it is worth trying to contact emergency services in test mode. After the call ends, tell the service immediately that you are fine. If you add certain friends as emergency contacts to the app, alert them and make sure they know what to do if they receive a help message from you.
- Setup and quick access to the device/program. Whatever device or software you use, it will only be useful if you have quick access to it. Hold the device in your hands while jogging, driving home, or searching for a car in a dark parking lot. You won’t always have time to rummage through your bag or rummage through your jacket pockets.
- Be vigilant. Don’t let the devices in your hands lull your vigilance. The two key principles in self defense training are trusting your instincts and knowing the current situation.
Remember: even the best product in the world does not provide you with a 100% guarantee of protection.. Your phone’s battery may run out or it could simply be stolen. Devices that rely on network data or a Wi-Fi signal are useless if you’re out of range. Your location tracking software can be used against you by unscrupulous partners. Applications often store your location and contact information on their servers. This means that you lower your privacy level while using them. Only share your location with people you trust completely. This way you will be sure that they do not use this information for criminal purposes. It’s also a good idea to only list friends who know you well on your emergency contact lists so they don’t overreact and send the police to you every time,
Security features that come with your phone by default
Some features pre-installed on your phone can be used for personal safety
Your smartphone has at least two built-in security features that are available by default – your location sharing and emergency calling. To use them, follow these steps:
- iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you can share your location with other iPhone users by going to their contacts page and selecting the Share my current location or Share my location option. The last feature gives you the option to share your location for a certain amount of time: until the end of the day or about an hour. The iPhone also has an emergency call option, which is activated if you hold down the power button and one of the volume buttons. You can move the SOS slider down or hold down this button to automatically call 911. This will happen after a five second countdown.
- android. You can use Google Maps to share your location with your friends by selecting the " Location Sharing " option under the account icon in the top right corner (in this app on the iPhone, you’ll find this in the menu in the top left corner). Android phones, including Samsung Galaxy devices, come in a variety of sizes and shapes; they receive Android software updates at different times. If you have an Android smartphone that has been released within the last few years, it will have its own emergency call activation system. Google it and find out how you can use this feature.
Almost all smartphones now have a function to make an emergency call right from the lock screen, so you can call the emergency services without having to unlock your phone. Calls to 911 will also be available on most smartphones, even if you don’t have a SIM card or have a weak mobile network/internet signal. Thus, you can make a call to the rescue service, even if there is not a penny on your account.
The obvious downside to using a smartphone is the fact that if it runs out of power or is turned off, you wo n’t be able to make a phone call or share your location with trusted contacts. So if you notice that your phone is dying and you feel like you might be in danger, you should send your current location to friends immediately so that trusted contacts have a starting point to look for. If you’d rather not use continuous tracking, you can send a photo of the route you’ll be following to a friend, such as if you’re hiking alone. That way, if you don’t arrive at your destination on time, friends or emergency services can at least try to track your movements.
General security app
Noonlight has paid features, but the most important ones are completely free.
We have tried several personal security apps and consider Noonlight one of the best. The program is very easy to use, available for iOS and Android, and its free version includes enough features for most users. All you have to do is press a button on the screen with your finger if you feel in danger. After you release your finger, the app will wait 10 seconds for you to enter your PIN if it was a false alarm. If you don’t, Noonlight will first try to contact you by phone, and if you don’t answer the phone, the company will contact the local authorities and send emergency services to your location.
The iOS version of Noonlight includes two additional free features that we really like: " Timeline " and " Safe Web ". The timeline can be filled with details about your plans, such as who on Tinder you’re going on a date with and where exactly. You can even add a photo from that person’s profile. In addition, there is an option to indicate if you are doing something odd for your normal schedule, such as sitting at home on a work day, staying at the office late, or driving to a new city. If you use a special option, your timeline data will be sent to the authorities along with your current location.
After adding contacts to the Safe Network, your friends will be able to check what you were doing and know your last known location. They won’t need to download the Noonlight app – they will have access to all the information they need on the company’s website.
It is worth noting that some people understand that they need protection from the police, and therefore they may not want to call the authorities. Below, we’ll look at an app that will only contact your friends in an emergency. In addition, we will talk about a program that captures the actions of the police and your communication with them.
App to send your location to friends
The Strava app is primarily used for cycling and jogging, but it also has some additional security features.
While running alone, you can also get into a huge number of potentially dangerous situations. Especially, it concerns women. The Strava app will help you always feel safe.
Strava is a social network for sports training. The application is mainly used to record the routes of long bike rides or runs. Strava has a useful feature called " Beacon " that lets you share your location in real time with whoever you want. You can also send your location to someone you exercise with, as well as share your workout duration and battery percentage on your smartphone with them. If you make an appointment with a friend of your choice, they will know that something happened to you when you don’t show up. Having received data on your movements, he will be able to share this information with the police.
The Beacon feature will be available to you after a paid subscription ($5 per month ).
Application for recording police actions
The Mobile Justice app is used to record conversations with law enforcement or document crime situations that you have witnessed
The murders of George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Daunt Wright, Mahia Bryant and many others show that Americans (especially blacks) are at risk of death at the hands of the police. If you use apps that promise to "contact the authorities" when you’re in danger, then based on your experience, you’re confident that the police will be able to protect you. You don’t even think about the fact that she can harm you. However, not all people are sure that this is the case.
If you are one of them, then you will need an application called Mobile Justice. It records all your conversations with the police, sending the video to trusted contacts. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you can create an incident report with your location, the number of the relevant police station, and a detailed description of what happened. You will need a mobile network or Wi-Fi connection for the app to work properly. However, you can create an incident report on your phone at any time and send it later if necessary. Mobile Justice isn’t just for people who are subjected to excessive force by law enforcement, you can use the app to record incidents you witness.
We know that this is not an ideal solution to all problems – even the presence of specific video evidence does not necessarily mean that a citizen will be fully protected in court and justice will prevail. However, you have every right to do this – to record on camera the actions that law enforcement agencies carry out. The application has a section " Your rights", which states that police officers cannot view or delete footage or confiscate your phone without a warrant; any requirement that you stop recording is contrary to your rights under the law. Third parties can legally record their interactions with the police and anyone else on camera, as long as they do not interfere with what is happening and do not interfere with the movement of law enforcement officers.
The application has complete information about your rights, whether you are stopped by the police on the street or you are participating in a protest.
Bracelet for fake calls to your phone
Flare costs $129 and will help call for help
We’ve tested five portable security devices over the past few years, and the Flare has stood out from its competitors. First of all, it really looks like a normal bracelet and not a tracking device. The Flare is $129, beaded, and has several metallic finishes. Its nice design hides the SOS button from prying eyes, which is really hard to find. Whoever you’re trying to run away from won’t have the slightest idea that you’ve called for help.
Press the SOS button once if you want to receive a fake phone call on your smartphone. The name of the person who will call you can be chosen in advance – it can be a roommate or your lover. The call will come from a real number, which the application will offer you to save in contacts, assigning a fake name to it.
This feature will be useful if you just get in the way. However, when you’re in a dangerous situation and a fake call isn’t enough, you can hold down the SOS button to send a message and your location to selected contacts. Flare also partners with Noonlight, so you can set the device (via the app) to call 911 when you hold down the button. You will be immediately dialed by the rescue service and if you cannot answer, your location will be forwarded to the police and relevant authorities. If you accidentally turn off the SOS button, the operator will ask you to spell your last name and provide a phone number so that he knows for sure that it is really you.
Flare is currently only available for iPhone users, with an Android version in development. The company has not yet announced when it will be published. The bracelet’s battery cannot be recharged: according to the company, this was a deliberate move to avoid any frustration due to the need to constantly charge the device from the mains. However, the bracelet is guaranteed to last you one to two years. After that, you will have to purchase a brand new device already with a $40 discount.
- Buy Flare Bracelet here
Other portable devices that can help you in an emergency
InvisaWear keychains, bracelets and more
These talismans have a button on the back that can be used to call for help.
If you like the Flare concept but have an Android phone or just don’t like wristbands, then InvisaWear products are worth considering. They are developed and supported by home security company ADT. The InvisaWear line includes a wide range of products: key chains, bracelets, necklaces, fitness bracelets and even hair ties. Yes, now you can buy a "smart" hair band that will take care of your safety. As with Flare, these products will blend in with the rest of your wardrobe and won’t arouse the suspicion of criminals.
We tested the keychain, bracelet and necklace from InvisaWear, all of which were made in the form of talismans. On the back of the mascots is a button that sends a help message and your location to local authorities and/or trusted contacts (depending on the settings you choose). For $20 a month, you’ll also receive messages and calls on the ADT app, which is useful if you want to stay in touch with someone until you feel safe. If you do not choose to subscribe to a paid subscription, alerts will still be sent to your ADT app, but instead of a call, you will receive a message that you will need to respond to in order to send help for you.
- Buy products from InvisaWear here
Note: The battery of these devices is also not rechargeable, so after a year or two you will need to replace them with new ones. You can do this for a $99 discount – the app will alert you when it’s time to replace your portable device.
Built-in security features in smart watches
If you already have a wristwatch like an Apple Watch or a Garmin fitness tracker, you might not want to spend your money on another gadget. Chances are you’ll just prefer something more functional than a portable SOS button. The good news is that some smartwatch models have built-in security features.
- Apple Watch SOS. Like the iPhone, you can call local emergency services using your Apple Watch by pressing the side button until a slider labeled " SOS " appears on the screen. You can manually drag the slider or hold down the button until the device counts down five seconds and then automatically calls the emergency services. Your trusted contacts will also receive a message with your location.
- Garmin Watch Assistance. Most Garmin models, including the Venu Sq, Forerunner 745, Fenix 6S Pro, and some others, have a Call for Help feature that, when activated, will send your location information to trusted contacts. There’s also an " Incident Detection " feature where the device automatically sends your location to trusted contacts when it falls from a great height or takes heavy damage.
It’s worth noting that we tried to test the Incident Detection feature on the Garmin Venu 2S. Unfortunately, it was not activated after the fake fall. Therefore, we cannot say for sure how well the device will perform during a real incident. For most portable devices to work properly, you need to have your phone handy (with the exception of the Apple Watch, which can be set up with a separate mobile plan). Of course, you should first make sure that you have already enabled the necessary security options.
If you are out of reach…
Garmin inReach Mini
Garmin inReach Mini can share your GPS coordinates from virtually anywhere in the world
If you like camping or hiking, you are often away from cell service. Most of the above products will not be able to help you in an emergency. This is where you should turn your attention to Garmin inReach Mini.
This satellite messenger costs $329. It is lightweight and will take up little space in your backpack. In addition, the Garmin inReach Mini uses the ultra-fast Iridium satellite network to broadcast your SOS signals.
Personal alarm in your keychain
Portable alarm system will help drive away intruders
A portable personal alarm will not notify your friends or the police that you are in trouble, but it can still alert others around you that you are in danger. More importantly, it will deter a potential intruder. If you’ve been grabbed and can’t get to the right gadget, put the alarm right on the perpetrator’s ear, it will help you escape. Save yourself and your ears and run away quickly.
- Buy Music Safety Keychain here