Tech

7 Apps To Keep On Your Phone In Case Of An Emergency

These safety apps can give you peace of mind.

Young woman in public transportation during the pandemic. Safety apps for women for iPhone and Andro...
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Even though it shouldn't feel this way, being a woman in public can sometimes feel very unsafe. Research conducted by Cornell University in 2015 found that 85 percent of women in the United States have experienced street harassment before the age of 18. A safety app for women produced by PLAN International in 2018 called Unsafe In The City, looked at five cities — Delhi, Sydney, Kampala, Lima, and Madrid — and had women pin particular places where they'd felt unsafe onto city maps. It’s now become a major source of data about women’s safety in metropolitan areas worldwide. But beyond gathering data about dangerous spaces, there are also many apps that might be able to help us band together and get home safely.

Walking home alone at night, going out with a stranger, exploring an unknown place, getting lost — all are situations in which women have felt vulnerable. Everybody has their tips and tricks if they think they may be in a dangerous situation: sticking to brightly lit places with people around, calling a friend, walking with keys between knuckles. Apps that hope to make women safe take various approaches, but many are based on the idea that your phone can be your lifeline.

While violence against women is never the fault of the victim, safety apps and other forms of backup can help you and your loved ones feel more secure when going out. Many phones have built-in safety features already. If you need to make an emergency call on an iPhone, you can press and hold one of the volume buttons and the side button at the same time, which brings up the Emergency SOS menu. To do the same on Apple Watch, press and hold the side button. Both options will dial emergency services for you. Samsung Android phones carry emergency call buttons on their lock screens.

Whether you're going out for a jog or headed off on a blind date, it's never a bad idea to make sure you've got every safety box checked. Make sure you keep your phone fully charged so you can use these safety apps if need be.

1

Círculo

Círculo

Free for Android

Círculo, formerly known as Circle Of 6, lets you create circles of connections (friends, parents, partners) and allows you to share updates about your safety and wellbeing. The end-to-end encrypted app, which doesn’t require your name or phone number to use, is designed to address both online and offline threats or harassment. It is available in both Spanish and English.

2

Hollaback

Free for Android and iPhone

The Hollaback app is about collecting evidence of street harassment to provide proof to worldwide authorities about the extent of the problem. It takes your location and lets you give details about how you were harassed or what you witnessed happening to somebody else.

3

Shake2Safety

Free for Android

This app gives you a variety of ways to call for help in subtle ways: tapping the power button four times, for instance, or shaking the phone. Both will send emergency messages to a contact of your choosing, and it can also record audio and video of what's happening.

4

BSafe

Free for Android and iPhone

BSafe is one of the most comprehensive safety apps for women. It involves an SOS system that can be activated by touch or simply your voice saying a key phrase. It live-streams and records whatever emergency you're in, sends your location to your "guardians" along with the audio and video, and has a timer alarm and a siren built in.

5

Safe And The City

Free for Android and iPhone

Safe And The City combines many different ideas into one. It operates as a reporting device for street harassment, allowing users to pin where they've experienced harassment. It also shows "safe spaces" for people who feel unsafe to hide, and allows easy connection with emergency contacts when it's needed. It's currently only available for London, UK, but is in an expansion phase.

6

One Scream

Free for Android and iPhone

One Scream uses voice activation to connect you with people who can help. If the app is on in the background, it’ll pick up if the user screams. That’ll trigger the app to sound a siren and give the user 20 seconds to cancel it, before sending an automated message with the phone’s location to chosen contacts. If you have an Android, the app will also call a contact after 20 seconds, so they can hear what’s happening.

7

Noonlight

Free with in-app purchases for Android and iPhone

If you have Tinder, you might be familiar with Noonlight already; it’s the safety app the dating platform partnered with to make sure people are safe on dates. It’s a pretty simple system: if you’re not feeling safe, open the app and hold onto the button. Once you feel safe, release the button and enter your 4-digit code. If you don’t feel safe, release the button and don’t enter your pin, and the app will note your location and alert police.