Panic Buttons: Safety for Women around the World with IoT Tech

By Special Guest
Sophia Lynch and Shrey Fadia, Correspondents
March 14, 2018

All around the world, safety for women is a major concern. In some situations, making a call or seeking out help is not always a possibility; and every second counts. Fortunately, with new technological developments in the field of IoT (Internet of Things) technology, something can be done about it.

“Panic buttons” are one of these new developments. These buttons are becoming more and more widespread as safety is becoming a more pressing concern.

Companies such as WearSafe are using IoT technology to connect customers to the resources they need and make it possible to get help using one of the world’s leading security platforms. WearSafe offers multiple options to do this:

  1. The first option is a wireless tag - for both enterprise and personal use - that when pressed, automatically makes a call for help. This tag has Bluetooth capabilities and can connect to your smartwatch or phone, keeping your actions discreet.
  2. The second option is an IoT security platform offered to wireless carriers and hardware manufacturers. In partnership with WearSafe, this technology can be integrated into wireless IoT devices for a secure cellular solution.

Some companies offer programs that enable customers to design their own panic button. GitHub has AWS IoT software available that allows you to configure your button to send up to three different SMS messages (for different uses). AWS uses a cloud-based platform and Wi-Fi technology in partnership with Amazon’s Dash Button Hardware. The button itself can be configured to track items, make emergency calls, even start your car.

Many applications with a focus on women's safety have been developed. Bsafe is one of the applications that let you create a network of members with whom you wish to notify when you are in an emergency. It also provides a fake call button to put off people who are making you uncomfortable.

Life 360 family is another app widely used among family members as a location service. The app includes a panic mode, which when pressed will call or message family members sending them your exact location.

Similar to Life 360, Mobile Standards Alliance of India (MSAI) developed an interesting application called “I feel safe.” This app runs without Internet and is free. On the Android phone, one can simply press the panic button five times to enable emergency mode. This will notify listed family members with an accurate GPS location. Updated location coordinates are sent every 30 seconds, and police are also informed about the happening.

Mutelcor has developed panic button security purposed to reduce the time between the onset of an incident and the responders’ arrival. This helps in lowering the window of opportunity for perpetrators.

In some of places, women do not have, or do not have access to cell phones. These panic buttons could be a saving grace for women in India, for example.

Just in 2015, there were 82,422 recorded assaults against women, not including the 34, 651 reported rapes. (The Guardian) Dr. Nandita Gandhi, the powerful co-director of the Red Elephant safety campaign group, says “there are both technological and social challenges in tackling this epidemic of violence and aggression against women.”

This technology is revolutionizing the Internet of Things industry. When it comes to safety, these advancements are changing the system. In places all around the world, women face violence and harassment and need ways to receive the help in an unsafe situation. IoT solutions offer a way to do this in a secure and accessible way.

The hope is that with the combination of panic buttons and IoT technology, these safety devices more widely available to women in developing countries and all around the world.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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