Three technologies to empower your safety

Given the events surrounding gender-based violence and xenophobic attacks in South Africa this week, there has been a national dialogue around personal safety in our society.

Though we shouldn’t live in a world where continuously relying on our smart devices to ensure our safety should be necessary, it is perhaps worthwhile to explore how we can better put technology to use to serve us during our daily routine.

On Friday this week, we teamed up with SABC 3’s Expresso Show to discuss three technologies – namely apps and services – that can empower our safety and can assist us in the event of an emergency.

Live Location Sharing

Though many of us might be more familiar with the feature of the same name found within WhatsApp, Live Location isn’t unique to messaging services alone.

If you regularly find yourself traveling and either need to share your location or wish to view the location of a friend or loved one, there are many services that will enable you to do this. Among them, the Find My Friends app can accommodate this feature, while what3words (which appends three unique English words to 3×3 meter GPS coordinates around the world) is particularly useful in sharing live updates – particularly if you’re traversing an area that you’re not familiar with.

Emergency Contacts

Most of us already use the ICE (In Case of Emergency) system, wherein you can append the letters ICE to a favourite contact on your phone. In the event you’re in trouble, a stranger handling your phone might be able to identify who to contact more quickly in the event of an emergency.

However, remember that depending on your phone’s settings, you might not be able to view contacts from your lock screen. If this is the case, consider reviewing this setting to only show Favourite contacts. In the event you can’t, you can also set up an Emergency card (on Apple iPhones / iOS devices only) or consider using Google’s Trusted Contacts app, which will allow a trusted friend or family member to request your location and other updates from you.

Personal Safety Apps

It’s really worthwhile to use an emergency app on your phone, and what can be particularly useful is employing the same service used by first responders (such as law enforcement or a neighbourhood watch) in your home area. However, I’ve found mySOS SA and Namola (the latter of which connects you directly to the South African Police Services or another emergency responder if need be) to be incredibly useful.

Have any great safety tips or services you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

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