Whether I'm strolling around my NYC neighborhood, traveling domestically, or visiting a far-flung land, personal safety is always a concern. Being a savvy traveler, especially as a woman traveling alone, means always being aware of your surroundings and sizing up those around you. I'm often asked to talk or blog about women's travel safety tips that include dressing culturally correct, avoiding hotel rooms on the first floor, and checking the elevator before you get in. Because I'm so focused on travel safety and security, that's why I decided to review and highly recommend a new personal security app: LifeLine Response.
When it's set on “Thumb Mode,” it operates like a “dead-man's switch. In other words, your thumb comes off your smartphone's touch pad – as would surely happen with an attempted assault – and the countdown starts. (If your thumb accidentally came off your phone's screen, you can still enter a deactivation code.) But, if it's a real attack and you don't enter the proper code, the process is set in motion, no matter if the phone is confiscated by your attacker. The result: an alarm sounds and a male voice “Lawrence” announces that the police have been contacted and are on the way. LifeLine Response's verification center will contact you to find out if it's really an emergency. If you're being forced to say everything is fine, when it's not, you can enter the silent alarm code, instead of the deactivation code. The attacker will think you've disarmed the app. What they don't realize is that entering the silent alarm code or not responding at all tells the center that it's truly an emergency and they will call local 911 who will have your location based on GPS coordinates. In addition, all your contacts (life lines that you had entered into the system initially) will be alerted with a text message and your GPS coordinates. And, if you're a college student, the system can alert campus security.
This “Thumb Mode” is perfect if you're just walking to your hotel, for example. But if you plan to go jogging for an hour or so, you can set it to “Timer Mode” so that you're not forced to holding your thumb on the screen. Again, if you don't use your disarm security code, the alarm will go off with the same results as above.
I recently conducted an interview with Peter Cahill, the CEO and Founder of LifeLife Response. Here's what he told me:
It took two years to develop a prototype. We want to empower people to prevention. There's an epidemic of assaults in the U.S., with with one in four women and one in 15 men assaulted every day. The idea of LifeLife Response is to prevent the attack from happening. We developed it with psychologists. And we also spoke with prison inmates - pedophiles, rapists - to find out what would scare them. We found that 40% to 50% of attackers will leave if they hear an alarm, and 40% to 55% will leave if they hear a voice. We're trying to get 99% of the attackers. With LifeLine Response, if you're attacked, we will know where you are and the police will be there. The lifelines are part of the redundancy. We know your lifelines will not wait to act. With other products on the market, you have to press a button on your phone, or dial 911. It's just not realistic.You can't react responsibly during an assault, unless you're trained. So we take the thinking out of it. All you need to know is your four-digit code. We are the 21st Century 911.
I feel strongly that women, men and teens living or traveling in the U.S. should seriously think about getting this app on their smartphone. There's no reason not to. Cost? It's not free but the cost is minimal (a one-year subscription is $21.99) especially considering the risk. Pocket phone? Cahill says false alarms are 0.00002%. Visit the website and see how it works. You'll be impressed with its sophistication, as I was.