Choosing a safety app

September 14, 2017

Atus Defender - Don't just feel safe, be safe.

 

 

In a recent article by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust they detailed some important questions about how you should go about choosing a safety app. So regardless of which type of app you choose, like a tracking app or a cab booking app, making the right choice is important.

 

To help you make up your mind, Alex Tomlinson who is the Operations Manager at Atus Systems, has commented on the points raised in the article so that you can see exactly how Atus Defender could help you in the situations brought forward by the Trust.

 

The original article can be found at the following link - HERE

The text from that article is highlighted below in orange with our comments following on below in black after each section.

 

Beware of thinking that any safety app can, on its own, make you safe. It can’t. No technology can. But the right one can help to improve your safety, if used as part of an overall safety strategy or to enhance the safety precautions you already take.

 

 

We would totally agree with this philosophy.

The right approach and mind-set is important because it ensures that you have prepared for such an eventuality and have taken steps, like having a safety app with you for just such an occasion.

 

 

​​Think about what an app does and how its functions will impact on your safety. For example, if it’s an app that enables you to book a minicab, can you be assured that the cabs will be licensed? Will you be sent details of your minicab and driver in advance? Will the price be confirmed in advance? Does it trace you getting into the car and dropped off at the other end? Does it allow you to complain/rate the driver?

NB: Minicabs must be pre-booked, whether in person at the cab office, by phone or by app. Any minicab that is NOT pre-booked is illegal, uninsured and potentially very dangerous. Beware of any app that encourages you in any way to pick up a minicab that is touting for business on the street.

 

Considering what you need from a safety app is important. Whether it’s an app that allows you to pre-book a cab or one that tracks your GPS location in an emergency, you need the right one for you.

Working out what it is that you need from a safety app first, will allow you to explore your options going forward and find just the right solution.

 

 

 

​​If the system claims to be able to pinpoint someone, find out how accurately it can do this and are there any circumstances where it will not work? Will it work if the person is indoors, in a busy area (like a block of flats) or underground (e.g. in a car park)?

 

Being able to locate someone outside with a personal safety app is relatively straight forward; as the GPS signal strength is nice and strong so your phone can probably pinpoint you to within 2-3m.

When you go indoors the GPS signal gets significantly weaker, sometimes making the location quite a wide area of 25m or so. This will depend on variables like which smartphone is being used, how it's being held/stored, the structure of the building, even the weather at the time.

Quite often safety apps can use the GSM cell towers to approximate the position of your phone so that it can still report your location, but you may find that it will be in the region of 500m or more. It’s not a particularly accurate method, but will at least give an idea as to the area you are in. This is the same for any app installed on a smartphone that only uses GPS/GSM positioning.

Using Wi-Fi can also give positioning data as well as making sure that the alarm gets through to the ARC (Alarm Monitoring Centre) even when there is no GSM signal, which several apps like Atus Defender can do for you.

However, where Atus Defender differs from the rest of the smartphone app market is that it has the ability to use the Defender Beacons which are self-contained, battery powered location beacons, which are ideal for these low GPS reception areas.

If you live in a building that has very little GPS reception in, or your workplace is a skyscraper in the middle of a city, then the Defender Beacons can be installed in minutes and each can be given a specific name that describes where you are.

If the app can see the beacon, your exact position is known!

 

 

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If an app has a function which allows you to send an alert direct to the emergency services, check with your local police what they know about this and how they would react to it, including any possible response time.

 

 

Nowadays many safety apps will actually send the alarm to their own ARC so that they can manage the situation, rather than directly to the police. The additional services offered by an ARC means that they can notify your loved ones or even call out the emergency services where required.

Where there is a nominated security company, for example if your employer uses a firm who specialise in responding to incidents, they can be contacted directly by the ARC to aid you in the event of an alarm and even sent your alarm location direct to a nominated mobile phone.

 

 

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Ask yourself ‘what if’ questions about the app. For example, e.g. If it’s a tracing/alert advice, what if your emergency contact is in a meeting/in the cinema/asleep and doesn’t hear the alarm? Can it contact more than one person with the alert to allow for this?

 

The “what if” scenarios allow you to assess what features and benefits of the safety app will suit you the best.

The Atus Defender app will contact our ARC directly as well as text/email up to two contacts as well. That way you can be confident that the alarm is receiving attention from people who care about you.

 

 

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If you are considering a tracing app for a young person, talk to them about it first and ensure they understand the safety benefits and that you have buy in from them. Otherwise it’s a waste of time, as they will find ways around it. Remember, the app can only trace the phone, not the person, so if your offspring want to go somewhere they don’t want you to know about, they can simply leave their phone at a friend’s house.

 

Totally true!

The young person has to feel that it is of benefit to them, they understand what it is for and that you are concerned for their safety. Trust is a 2-way street, so they need to want it as much as you want them to have it.

Agreed most of the youth of today are never more than a few inches from their phone, but if they do want to go and meet a friend and don’t take the phone with them, not only can’t they be reached when you want to check when they’ll be back for dinner, they have no means of raising an alarm should they need to either.

Making sure that they know it's there, particularly if they have a medical condition, means they know help is only a button push away.

 

 

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Don’t let any app replace personal safety precautions. For example, just because you have an app that can track where you are and/or call for help if you get into trouble, doesn’t mean it is safe to take short cuts down dark alley ways or through deserted parks.

 

Taking the slightly longer but safer route home is always the safest option. Always be clear in your own mind about what not to do and avoid any areas of risk. Don’t just feel safe, be safe!

 

 

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Flashing an expensive phone in public can put you at risk if the wrong person sees it and decides to take it from you. So when considering using any app, think about your surroundings and if it’s a good place to take your phone out.

 

 

Good advice, especially as many modern smartphones cost several hundreds of pounds, or in the case of the iPhone X over a £1,000! The last thing you want is to have somebody snatch it from you, so keep it safe in your pocket if you don’t need to have it on show.

There is a way around the problem of not being able to trigger the app without having your phone in your hand though, simply by using the Atus Defender Remote trigger.

You can keep your phone in your pocket or bag and use the remote button to trigger the Atus Defender app, as long as the phone is relatively nearby. The range of the Defender Remote is up to 25m in an open area and uses Bluetooth technology to ensure a reliable connection is always available to you, should you need to push the button.

 

 

​​An app is only available if the phone is charged and you have it with you. We all forget sometimes, so be careful you are not dependent on it. For example, keep the number of a licensed cab company in your bag, pocket, in case your phone – with that vital cab booking app on it – has been lost, stolen or forgotten.

 

Having a backup is always a sensible approach as sometimes we forget to either charge the phone or forget quite how much time we spend on social media and how that eats up the battery life.

If you don’t have the means to charge your phone up on the go e.g. with a portable battery pack, then keeping your options open is always advisable.

 

 

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Introducing an App into the Workplace

The best way to introduce a new system into a workplace is to give employees a say in which system you choose. You could use a focus group approach to gain their opinions on the app. You may find they spot things that you have missed.

Above all, employees need to know that you are introducing this new app to improve their safety and not in order to track their movements or check whether they are doing their job properly. Explain to staff why you are introducing the new app and why you think it is important.

It is essential that employees understand how, why and where to use the app, otherwise they won’t bother.

 

Employee engagement is a vital part of the process to keep everyone informed as to the current thinking and show that you care about their welfare and safety.

Open discussions about what as an employer you are doing to keep your employees safe and the options that are available means that the feedback should be positive and together the best way forward will be found.

Some people are concerned about the “big brother” side of being tracked, but once you can demonstrate that this only happens in the event that they raise an alarm and it enables help to be sent directly to their location, most employees realise it's actually nothing to be concerned about.

 

 

If you would like to read more about personal safety, you can see lots of safety tips and information on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website HERE

 

We hope the answers we have given have provided you with a bit more information and if Atus Defender sounds like just the thing for you or for someone you care about, then you can find out more about subscribing to the Atus Defender product and accessories in the links below - 

 

If you have questions about Atus Defender you can always try our FAQ page or feel free to get in touch HERE

 

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