Can a mobile phone keep you safe on the go?
Jan 30, 2012 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
You're walking alone late at night, and you sense someone is following you. Is it possible to get protection from your cell phone without calling the police?
"I have four daughters, so developing something that creates a layer of safety for those who feel vulnerable was important to me," said Tom Rissman, CEO of PeopleGuard LLC and one of the developers of the StreetSafe app. "I wanted to create a sort of personal mobile security system, and that's when we thought up StreetSafe."
So why use StreetSafe instead of just calling 911?
"People think 911 can instantly track where a cell phone is, and that's not the case," he said. "It can take up to six minutes for the police to track a phone because they need to get permission (to do so). If someone is in our system, we have them on GPS and don't need to get permission to track it, so it's instant."
Rissman said the app offers two options _ green and red.
If you slide the red button, StreetSafe silently contacts your local 911 center with your location, tracks your every move through GPS and relays your position to the authorities, and transmits your identification information to the authorities - age, physical description, etc.
"If you're in danger, keep your finger next to the red alarm and tuck the phone into your pocket," Rissman said.
If you slide the green option, you're immediately connected to a call center staffed by trained safety advisors and off-duty police officers.
Rissman said StreetSafe's non-emergency option _ the green button _ sets them apart, because it allows the user to talk to experts who can offer safety tips before things get dangerous.
"We call this the 'walk with me' service," he said. "Our staff is trained to help with any circumstance. It makes people feel better to know it's there, with or without a crisis."
Concerned about your privacy? Rissman says the app is not a tracking device others can use against you. "Our information is kept solely to us and shared with the police and only the police" in case of emergency, he said.
"We thought this would be most popular with college students, but young professional women seem to be using it most," he said.
Cost for the app varies from $19.99 a month to $149.99 a year and includes the security service. Find out more at StreetSafe.com.
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
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