Friday, March 1, 2013

Don’t Be A Victim – Your Smartphone As A Personal Safety Device

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Don't Be A Victim - Your Smartphone As A Personal Safety Device

by Ryan Dube
personal safety app
Traveling can be a magnificent adventure, but there are some places where traveling can be somewhat unsafe. Whether you're a man or a woman, visiting new places can introduce a long list of dangers that you are not aware even exists - especially if it's the first time you've ever been there. Almost every place in the world has a "bad part of town" or  a certain criminal element. When you travel,  you should have certain tools and personal security measures in place to protect yourself and your property.
A while back, Dean described how you can use your phone to survive in a wilderness situation, but what about an urban situation? In the day of mobile devices, increasing your personal safety is easier than ever before. What creates situations of danger for anyone traveling alone is being cut off from other people that can help you. So, if you have a mobile smartphone, then you can make sure that you are connected with others at all time. Additionally, devices like smartphones and tablets offer important tools that can further improve your personal safety - like apps that make loud noises or very bright flashes of light (or both).
The effectiveness of things like loud noises to thwart a personal attack - particularly attacks of opportunity against women - are often thwarted when the victim surprises the attacker with the capacity to emit a very shrill, loud noise that will attract people from a distance. This is so effective that Universities across the world have instituted free whistle programs - handing out emergency whistles to any student that wants one in order to help increase personal safety on campus.

Using Surprise as a Defense

The fact is that most attackers are cowardly individuals that believe they are taking advantage of a person in a vulnerable position. This may be a personal attack, or it could even be waiting for an opportunity to steal your property - like your phone or personal tablet. Since the element of surprise is so effective in thwarting these sorts of criminals, the following list of personal safety apps will effectively increase your safety by surprising the criminal with an attack of sounds or lights when they least expect it.
These first couple of apps are meant to help you defend against thieves that would steal your tablet, cellphone or your bag or purse.

Alarm Anti Theft Screen Lock

The Anti-Theft Screen Lock app is intended to alert everyone around that someone is attempting to break into your tablet or phone by trying out random passwords. The app also lets you set off an alarm if your phone is simply picked up or moved. This lets you drop your phone into the outside pocket of your purse or bag, and if anyone grabs it and tries to make off with it, the app will let off an alarm that will attract everyone's attention.
When you first set up the app, you can configure it to set off an alarm either when the thief types in the wrong password, moves your phone, or both. You can also configure the alarm to set off a piercing alarm tone, vibrate the phone, set off bright lights, or all three.
personal safety app
When your mobile device is "armed", the screen will look like the one below. It shows the current time and provides you with a password field that you can use to unlock the phone.
personal safety app android
Don't type in the password wrong, or you'll set off the alarm yourself! If the alarm goes off, the screen flashes bright red (looks impressive on a big tablet screen). When you enable all three alarm types, your mobile device will go crazy - vibrating, flashing and emitting a loud alarm siren.
personal safety app android
It's one really good way to protect your mobile device or your personal property from anyone touching or moving it. It's also a very funny way to play a prank on nosy friends - but that's another article for another day...

Anti-Theft Alarm - Secure Your Mobile

One of my favorite anti-theft alarm apps is one aptly named Anti-Theft Alarm. I like it more than others, mostly because of the cool screen that comes up showing the eyes of a creepy creature when it's actively monitoring your phone for you.
The features are what you would expect from such an app - except in addition to emitting a loud siren when the phone is disturbed, it will also monitor your charger. If anyone unplugs the charger from your phone or your tablet, it'll also set off the alarm.
personal safety app android
It's the perfect app to protect your device when you're in some public place where you can't stay right near where you have your mobile device being charged. You'll hear the siren the moment anyone disturbs your phone or tablet in any way, and you can come running.
Normally, on the main screen your security "beast" is sleeping, but when you activate the app, it opens its eyes and remains vigilant, waiting for any thief to go ahead and attempt to lay a finger on your phone.
personal safety application
These apps are fantastic for securing your mobile device while you're traveling. Staying protected from theft is important to improving your feeling of security, but it doesn't exactly make you much more secure. For that, you need a few important personal security apps.

Flashlight Ultra - Personal Alarms and Emergency Lights

When you're walking in that dark and deserted parking garage and you hear footsteps quickly walking in your direction, it would be really nice to have some device to protect yourself - a bit of pepper spray can always come in handy if you're being targeted for an attack. However, not everyone thinks to carry such weapons with them, or maybe you forgot it at home. Well, since you don't usually forget your mobile phone at home, having an app like Flashlight Ultra at the ready may be the next best thing.
Yes, Flashlight Ultra lets you use your phone's bright LED camera flash as a flashlight, but it's a heck of a lot more than that. 
personal safety application
As you can see from the main menu, this app gives you access to some of the most impressive methods of signaling people that you may be in an emergency situation. The first and most important is the Personal Alarm. This is a tool that you should enable on your phone whenever you're entering into an area that feels a little bit unsafe. The screen is simply a big, red button.
personal safety application
But if you tap that button, your phone will strobe the camera flash and it'll emit a very loud siren. In a situation where people may not hear the sound of your voice from across a parking lot - there is absolutely no mistaking the sound of a loud siren. People will no doubt come running to your area when this starts going off - or at the very least the sound of a piercing police siren will scare the attacker away.
If you find yourself entering a very, very dark alleyway or the corner of some dark parking garage - light it up by using the "Screen Light" option.
personal safety application
This lets you light up the entire screen of your phone, the bright LED of your camera flash, or both. Trust me, this will light up some of the darkest spaces and can warn you off if there's something (or someone) there that you really don't want to deal with.
The app offers a bunch of useful lighting features, like the personal safety light, a strobe light, and others. It's probably one of the best personal safety apps to have on you when you're traveling alone through an urban environment.

Panic Button - Alert Everyone When Something is Wrong

Of course, if you just want a quick and simple app, the Panic Button is the way to go. There's no setting up or configuring the app, really. You just launch it, and your phone screen fills with a big, red PANIC button.
If you find yourself in a situation that you don't want to be in, and you need someone to come help you - or you just need to scare someone off - press the PANIC button and your phone will start freaking out. Trust me, if someone isn't expecting it - it'll surprise the heck out of them. It's just a human reaction to a loud siren. At the very least, it'll confuse them enough so that you may have a second or two to get away.

EyeWatch - Never Be Alone Again

Aside from letting people in your immediate area know that you're in trouble, what if you get in a situation - like an abduction - where you need to let someone know your location without the ability to make a call with your phone?
There's one app that could very well save your life in a situation like this, called EyeWatch.  EyeWatch lets you trigger video or audio recording at the tap of your finger, and most importantly it lets you trigger the instant transmission of your location.
When you install the app, you just need to set up the list of emergency contacts - phone numbers and email addresses - of people that you'd want to alert if you were ever in serious trouble and need help.
Once you've done this, the app is ready to save your life. Keep it running when you're traveling in unfamiliar areas. If anything goes wrong, you can tap one of the four buttons - personal alert, security alert, medical alert or travel alert - to trigger the transmission of your emergency situation and location.
When you tap the button, a screen will appear notifying you that your emergency situation - complete with location, audio, and anything else you've configured to be transmitted, has been sent.
It's very cool to see this in action. With one tap, the app emails every one of your emergency contacts to let them know you're in trouble.

Your contacts can visit the eye-watch website to listen to your captured audio or pictures, and check out your GPS location. Or they can just click on the link and see your location on a map.
If you've told your emergency contact what such a message from you means - then they'll know you're in some serious trouble and can immediately come to your aid. Imagine - in a college campus situation - if all of your friends are alerted at once that you're under attack in the parking lot. Within minutes, all of your friends could be converging on the location - instantly turning the tables on the attacker.
The app also automatically launches the phone so that you can just tap the "Call" button to get them on the phone - no need to look up the contact and type in the number. It's all automatic with the touch of one button.

TravelSafe - Emergency Numbers Wherever You Are

For international travelers, your safety in many situations can hinge on how quickly emergency personnel can make it to your location. For this reason, you should always know the phone codes for the emergency services in the country that you're visiting. Thankfully, there's a convenient personal safety app called TravelSafe that lets you look up the emergency service codes for any country in the world.
On the country page, you'll see buttons for each emergency service.
In fact, tap the emergency service button, and the app will launch your phone with the number already typed in. Just click the Call button and you'll have them on the phone.
personal safety app
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that your mobile device can protect you from thieves or from personal attack. Obviously - a noisemaker or bright flashing lights may not save your life in every situation, but any advantage that you can gain in a dangerous situation like that can go a long way toward keeping you safe.
Do you know of any other useful personal safety apps that can protect you in urban survival situations like this? Have you ever had to use such an app? Tell us about your experiences and your app suggestions in the comments section below.

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