App in time can save from crime

Sure, safety apps might do no good when the network sticks disappear altogether from your phone. But given that many crimes occur pretty much within server ranges, downloading an app or two, for your own safety, won’t hurt, insists Anusha Shashidhar.

IIt's 7 in the evening, you are 23 years old, working full-time, and your "smart"phone starts ringing, flashing your father's sixth call for the day. Annoyed as you are, trying to stuff that golgappa in your mouth, and sighing in response to your friend rolling her eyes, you pick his "Where are you?" call, and give him a piece of your mind. If only there were an app to sense your parents' annoying calls and cut them off. Well there may not be any "silence-the-parents" app in the market, but there are apps to help reach out to them when it is truly necessary.

The poet Virgil once said, "Confidence cannot find a place wherein to rest in
safety." And it is, perhaps, most true for Indian women. Thanks to wolves that are likely to descend on you at  sunset, even you, a rocksteady corporate diva, find your safety in jeopardy, while walking alone on empty streets. Kareena Kapoor Khan claims, in the ad for a safety app, that she doesn’t feel safe despite her status and bodyguards, because the criminal need not, necessarily, be a stranger. 

You have heard enough horror stories in the past two years alone to imagine what could be the fate of a lone (and even accompanied) woman during nightfall. As much as you hate to admit it, the old saying "Ek akeli ladki khuli hui tijori ki tarah hoti hain" (A lone girl is like an open locker), seems to hold true, even to this day.

Instead of being a damsel-in-distress-in-denial, you would be wise to aid yourself with as many safety measures as possible. Pepper spray is not the only
god-send, you know. If the click of a mouse can buy you clothes, then a shake of your smartphone could fetch you help when you are in danger.

Sure, it might do no good if you’re in an area where your network sticks disappear. But given that most of the crimes have happened pretty much within the server range, downloading an app or two for your safety won’t hurt. 

As Prithvi PM, a bio-tech student puts it, “I haven’t tried any of the safety apps yet. But I think I should, as I do travel alone, late in the night, and I’m put up in quite a remote area. It might not be all that useful if I face a serious attack. But apps like Scream Alarm can certainly help fend-off drunks and eve-teasers. I’ve heard the app makes your phone scream like a banshee, making it impossible for people to not      notice it! It should be enough to keep the ‘roadside Romeos’ at bay.”

Ever since the nightmarish episode of the Delhi bus gang-rape in December 2012, several safety apps have been released for the safety of women, and the general public at large. Of course, these might not magically teleport you back home, like a fairy godmother could, if you are being attacked. But they can certainly help keep the attacker at bay, at least for a while.

So how well do these apps really work? Swathi Menon, a banker, says “Thankfully, I never entered a situation where I had to make use of a safety app. But once I activated the Vith U app to test it, after I had registered my friends’ and family’s contact numbers on it. I didn’t realise I hadn’t informed them earlier. They panicked on getting an SMS about me being in danger, and started calling me frantically, only to find me safe and sound at home! Needless to say, the app worked like a charm.”

Although it is prudent to have such apps on phones, not many use it. Rohan Nair, an application developer, says “There are innumerable safety apps available for free. Yet, only with wider usage of these apps, will their developers be able to improvise on them. I guess the obvious problem most developers are trying to fix is that of safety in no network coverage areas. I’m sure we will be able to come up with something for that too, very soon.”

Here's looking at a few useful safety apps, and when to use them:

iFollow

When in danger, shake your phone thrice and the app does the rest. Upon shaking, it gets activated, and makes a call to your pre-selected contacts. It also sends an SMS, seeking urgent help, if the contacts don't answer the call. So if your attacker is close and you don't have the time to think of anything better, just shake your
smartphone.

Best used when: You are being followed.

Help Alert & Fight Back

If sending an SMS or making a call isn't enough, these apps send your voice
recordings. Bonus: they even update your Facebook status with the warning that you need help, along with your location details.

Best used when: You or someone around you is in medical emergency, or being robbed.

Damini

This one was launched right after the horrifying Delhi rape case in December 2012. Upon starting it, this app goes one step ahead and sends not only your
location data, but also a video, to your
pre-selected contacts.

Best used when: You are in a new, unfamiliar or deserted area.

Scream Alarm

Got a frog in your throat? Unable to utter a word, in fear, let alone scream? Just hit the "Scream" button on this app, and your phone will make a blood-curdling scream that no one can ignore! Actually, that's about it.

Best used when: Drunks or eve-teasers make a pass on you.

Cab4me

This app's database allows you to search for taxi stands near your location, and even book a cab on it.

In case there are no taxi stands close by, the app will search on the internet for other taxis.

You can also make your list of favourite cab companies on it, making it easier and faster to find cabs next time.

Best used when: Looking for a cab on a deserted road.

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