20 Dec How is technology helping to create a safer society?
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that half of all women have felt unsafe at some point walking alone in the dark, and I have picked out several new devices which aim to tackle this issue by helping users to feel safe and provide them with a new level of protection whilst they are out.
In a recent blog, I explored the new wave of smart home technologies that has hit the market, aiming to make people’s lives easier and safer. But more recently over the past years there has been an increase in demand for technological solutions to help keep individuals safe while they are travelling alone or out at night.
Devices with safety as their driving cause
- The WalkSafe app’s unique feature helps users plan their safest route home by being able to see recent crime data in the area and being notified when they walk near these areas. It encourages people to stay informed and to take the necessary precautionary measures to avoid crime hotspots. The app also has interactive features such as ‘TapSafe’ which once opened and tapped instantly connects the user to a loved one to alert them of where they are, ‘HomeSafe’ also allows users to set a specific journey time and alerts their loved ones if this journey has not been completed. It is now the fastest-growing safety app in the UK with more than 560,000 downloads.
- The creative minds at the University of Bath have recognised the lack of personal safety devices which can be physically activated on the market and have developed a women’s smartwatch app called Epowar to solve this. By monitoring heart rate and body motion with artificial intelligence, Epowar can sense if the body is in distress and send automatic alerts. Although Epowar is still in the development phase, the idea came from realising most attacks can happen so quickly that the victim would not have time to use a panic button or their mobile phone.
- The bSafe app could help to bring about prosecutions with its innovative voice-activated SOS alarm feature which automatically starts live-streaming video and audio to selected contacts. By recording everything that is happening, the app aims to make it easier for users to provide evidence in court cases.
Technology for good
Although feeling safe at night in public cannot be solved by technology alone, many companies are working to create easily accessible apps and devices which could be lifesaving in unfortunate situations. In the summer of 2021, the Home Office launched a £5 million fund to drive progress towards improving the safety of women in public spaces at night, and several technological initiatives were accepted. My prediction is these personal safety devices will evolve to become more seamlessly integrated with our lives and will be a major theme in the smartphones and wearables of the future.