An Aussie company has just launched an app that they hope will revolutionise personal safety.
It’s called Safie, and features a panic button that can be pressed when you need to eject yourself from awkward or dangerous situations.
The app was initially developed to give women walking around by themselves the security and backup they need to get around safely which is depressingly necessary in 2021.
Almost one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence, and nearly one in five have endured sexual violence, according to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. The rates are even higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Almost one in 10 women have experienced violence from a stranger, the statistics show, meaning an app like Safie could be a game-changer.
The idea for a safety app was developed in 2012 when Jill Meagher was fatally attacked while walking home from a pub in Melbourne.
Three friends, Ross Sbisa and Chris Jonker, and Matt Ball, decided that people should feel safe in Australia and have recourse to action.
Sbisa recalls, “I am a father with three beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife. I thought to myself, ‘This has to stop’.”
He and his wife began researching how to keep safe and were alarmed at how little information was out there. Sbisa discussed the problem with friends Ball, a personal security expert, and Jonker, a digital expert.
The app they developed includes a panic button, an ‘Arrived Safe’ alert, an ‘Awkward Mode’ alert, and an ‘I’m Not OK’ button.
Pressing the panic button alerts a user’s designated contact, sends images from both the front and back camera, and activates their phone’s GPS to pinpoint their location.
The Arrived Safe button lets friends and parents know that someone has completed their journey, while Awkward Mode sends a discreet, pre-written text instructing a chosen contact to call that person in a few minutes to get them out of an awkward situation.
The ‘I’m Not OK’ button, which can be used to alert friends that someone might be having a mental health episode, developed in response to the stress of lockdown and a growing awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues, especially in young people.
“At first we began thinking about all the situations our kids might find themselves. We came up with everyday events like going to and from school or school sport, going to the movies or the beach with friends, wandering away on family shopping trips,” Sbisa noted.
“Then the ideas started to grow; a teen needing to be picked up from a party, an adult needing a phone call to get them out of a first date mistake, an older person who has had a mishap, or even someone who is feeling low.”
“The more research we did, the more uses we found. A young driver can let a parent know they’ve arrived safely. Businesses can use it for employees coming and going at late hours through areas that do not feel safe,” Jonker added.
“Most important though, is talking to one another. People freeze when they’re frightened. Working out how to get out of a dangerous or awkward situation can take time or be impossible in the moment,” Sbisa stated.
“If you’ve worked it out before, you can act. You get help, you get out and you get safe.” This is especially true of everyday situations. People rarely consider ahead of time what they would do if a child was lost or a date went wrong, and these situations are extremely frightening.
The app aims to be the safety valve for all Australians as it’s less confronting than approaching someone face to face while helping people begin to talk to each other about their personal needs.