Today on Twitter, I found out that Health and Human Services has released two new apps to fight against sexual assault. You can read Good magazine’s story on these apps: http://su.pr/48xF7u. Essentially the apps let you call your friends or 911 when you’re feeling like you’re in a bad situation.
I found this is of particular interest, because for years I’ve toyed with this idea of an anti-attack app. How does my idea differ from the released apps? Noise. I guess the use for my fictional app is when a man or woman is walking alone at night on the street. Maybe you’re a little inebriated, maybe you’re just not physically intimidating and the next thing you know you’re a little nervous about where you’re walking. Why not hit a button that lets out a low whistle that draws attention to you. Loud enough for people to be like huh, what’s that? And try to find the source. Suddenly, people are keeping an eye on you. Witnesses can’t (shouldn’t) say they didn’t see you go by. Ideally the noise would become a learned sound – like the ding of a text message or start of an apple computer.
And when you’re really panicked – why not hit a button that yells Help and has a little siren? The benefit is that if you are attacked, an attacker now has to handle both you and your phone. Toss your phone and the perp now has two situations to deal with. Maybe it can’t turn off without the password in case the perp tries to steal it.
In my mind, I thought including some sort of noise alert alarm would be clutch in an anti-assault app. Especially because women as a whole are taught to be quiet, to not draw attention to themselves, etc. Let the phone do it for them. And when put into a position where you can’t be vocal even if you want to, let the phone do it for you. Will people use the button to call wolf? Maybe, but maybe it’ll be like calling 911, people know you don’t use it unless you mean it.
The app would obviously have a 911 option. I also think it should have some sort of “Open/Safe Areas” map. If you end up on a street you don’t know late at night, you could click this and it would direct you to the nearest open public location through verbal commands, so you don’t have to have your phone out. That way you can get some place safe and take a few minutes to look at a map, call a friend or cab, etc.
MY dad told me a story a few years ago about how a woman was walking home and got nervous, so she called her boyfriend. Well, that didn’t help anything because the man following her, grabbed her hair from behind and raped and killed her. I guess my point is – pretending to be on the phone with your friend, or being on the phone with your friend is NOT a safety measure. If anything it’s a false sense of security that is just going to split your attention.
Anyway, that’s my ramble…