The DNA web team tried a few women safety apps. Here's what we thought about them...
Maleeva Rebello doesn’t feel safety after downloading apps
After the brutal Delhi gang-rape, I decided to download a women's safety app to arm myself against attackers. I have an Android phone and on looking for safety apps on the Play store, the results showed a large number of “pregnancy safety” apps. I finally found an app called, 'Self defense for women' and quickly downloaded it. However, when I tried to use it I was left with lot of written material — text, text and more text on women's safety. Though it all seemed in depth and well-researched it was not what I was looking for.
I then downloaded another app called 'iHollaback' which I found after doing some research online. The app had an elaborate log in, giving me high hopes. However, I was disappointed as all it had was a donate button and a maps option — to save location details in case of an emergency — on which Mumbai, the city I live in didn't feature. The only place options in India were Pathankot, Delhi, Chennai and Chandigarh.
Then there was an option that provided information about what the app does and an interesting ‘share your story’ feature. Users can share their stories and categorise them by selecting the type of harassment, the location, uploading a photo but sadly when I tried to submit a story myself, the app made my phone hang. I attempted to submit a story for a couple of times, after that. Finally, the story was submitted but it took forever to process and I got a message saying my story was sent to chennai.hollaback.org, I also got a message saying that I had Hollaback'd.
There were two other women's safety apps but they were not free apps. Sadly, my search for a good women's safety app didn't end up being very successful.
Kanika Sikka tries the eyewatch app, prefers sending SMSes herself instead
The first time I downloaded the eyewatch for Blackberry app, it refused to accept my password and did not send any alert. I had to uninstall and reinstall it using a different e-mail id because the 'forgot password' option failed to yield any result.
Finally, here's how the app works. When you're in an emergency situation, you can switch on the app and click on personal alert. It turns on the camera for you to take photos of the setting around you. Meanwhile, it sends an e-mail to your emergency contact with the pictures and makes a call on the phone number provided in the settings. It also sends an sms from your phone saying "I need immediate assitance! Please put in your phone number and Alert Code: @eye-watch.in to help me."
Once you're safe, you can deactivate the alarm, which sends an e-mail saying "Eyewatch alert activated by user has been deactivated now." It also sends an sms mentioning the same.
You also have an option of sending an sms or e-mail to the contact saying you're safe with a custom message. Then again, you can do that on your own! So this is pretty much a redundant option.
Sends e-mails, makes calls immediately
Sending photos is quite helpful
Works in the background
Uses a lot of memory
Phone hangs once the application is open
Not very user-friendly
It is quite helpful, but do not wait for an emergency situation, give it a trial and understand how exactly it works.
Tasneem Akolawala thinks Mumbai Police's app is unreliable
The Mumbai Police launched their first mobile app called ICE (In Case of Emergency)- Mumbai Police which is available for free on Google Play Store. The main feature of the app is the SOS (Save Our Souls) button on the homepage that sends out a distress message to all the numbers added to the app. The message will state that you are in an emergency situation and will also contain your present location if the same can be determined by your GPS device. The SOS button needs to be pressed for atleast 3 seconds in order to send the emergency message.
To ascertain the credibility of the app, I decided to test it to determine whether the text message is delivered to the contact entered and also the accuracy of the content that is delivered as a message. It was after three to four failed attempts, I realized that the message does not get delivered to the entered contact at all.
After entering different contacts to re-confirm, I realised that the app's main feature is not working at all. However after installing the app on another phone and entering different contact details, the message was sent immediately.
When I selected on the SOS button, a loud siren began playing from my device. It could be useful for a situation which is natural and medical related when you require aid, but in situations like eve-teasing and rape threats, this could only aggravate the wrongdoer, causing graver problems.
Final verdict: The app is too large. It doesn't work on all phones. The design is simple and neat. The app is more a comprehensive guide of measures to take when attacked rather than an SOS alerting software. It has some major loopholes like the loud alarm and the unreliable SOS alert. Also, I asked myself one question: Is sending an SMS for help enough when there is an emergency? What are the chances that the person on the other side will read the text message immediately? The uncertainty of its reach to the desired contact for possible help is very large and hence, the app is not reliable.
Also the GPS required in locating the victim and the hospital is subject to connectivity. Hence, to maintain fast connectivity across locations is also a far-fetched analogy.
The app did provide me with detailed information and guidelines on how to react and undertake precautionary measures during emergency situations.
Also an important feature where the app allows you to add personal information like current medical conditions, blood group, allergies and medical history is very useful and would help the doctors or the helper in case of any emergency.
Overall, I foud that the app is more suitable for a heart, asthma or a blood pressure patient than for prevention of crimes against women. The app fails to keep in mind all the scenarios in which a woman could face danger in this city and its core SOS feature does not work for certain devices, The loud alarm could work in favour of the victim in some cases, however, could backfire badly in some.
I'd suggest to carry pepper sprays and defence weapons for safety and not to rely on ICE alone.