5 Must-Have Apps for Personal Safety

If you’d like to feel more safe and secure, whether on a city street, college campus or at home, there are new apps that may be able to help. Using mobile technology like GPS, app developers are able to connect potential victims of violence to support systems when they feel they're in danger. Here are a few of the latest and most popular apps that aim to help smartphone users increase their sense of security, although none of them are meant to be a substitute for taking other precautions or for dialing 911 in an emergency.

  1. Watch Over Me bills itself as the app for anyone who's ever called a friend or family member while walking home through a dark alley. The app allows the user to specify a time period during which he or she will feel unsafe, and if the user doesn't check in at the end of that period, the app notifies a pre-set group of emergency contacts with the user’s GPS location. Perhaps even more valuable is another feature of the app, which sounds an alarm, alerts the contacts with the user’s location and activates the phone's camera when the user shakes the phone vigorously.

  2. Emergensee is similar to Watch Over Me in that it allows the user to alert a group of pre-determined contacts with his or her GPS location and stream video when he or she is in trouble, but takes it one step further by allowing users on select campuses and in select cities to add campus security and professional responders to that contact list as well, through the app’s partnerships with certain colleges and cities.
  3. Circleof6 allows the user to choose six friends or family members to notify in a potentially unsafe or uncomfortable situation. The app, which won the 2011 White House and Health and Human Services "Apps Against Abuse" Technology Challenge, uses icons to represent certain actions that the user needs his or her friends to take to help, from contacting authorities to simply texting or calling to interrupt an uncomfortable, creepy or potentially escalating situation. Like the other apps on this list, it also provides the user's location to a pre-selected group of contacts.
  4. bSafe is an another app that connects users to friends for safety purposes, but takes the GPS element a step further by showing a user where those friends are on the map at any given time so the user can know how close he or she is to help. Like many of the apps in this list, bSafe also allows the user to tap a button to activate an alarm, notify contacts of his or her location and record audio and video evidence, which is sent to a secure server.
  5. Aspire News is the app on this list that is least like the others: it is a stealth app for victims of domestic violence that's meant to look like a run-of-the-mill news summary app to a potential abuser, but secretly has tools in the "help" section that could help a victim contact friends or family. Aspire also has resources such as articles, quizzes and links to support networks for victims of domestic abuse. 

Data usage applies for app download and use.

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