Walking down a street – a pretty well lit street in fact – headed home after work, he didn’t expect to be mugged. They came at him as he turned a corner, three of them. They said they wanted his wallet. He threw it but it just made them angry. One of them went to retrieve it as another closed in telling him he shouldn’t have made them work harder. Had it been a month ago he would have been headed home to his girlfriend but she just moved out. No one noticed that he didn’t make it home that night….
For a first date it seemed to be going okay. He seemed a little angry as he talked about his ex but who isn’t mad at their ex? Now though, he was supposed to be driving you home. But this is not the way you would have taken to get home. Your cell is in your purse which is at your feet. You reach down and the car doors lock as he asks what are you doing……
Her husband was gone on a work trip and she was getting back to the house late. She had her keys almost to the lock when someone came out from the shadows in her yard. He said “Let’s go in.” …..
Safety sometime lies in numbers, in having someone expecting you home, or someone expecting to hear from you. Yet in this modern, disconnected world we don’t always have that luxury.
Luckily, there is an app for that.
Kitestring is a safecall service that will check in with you at a time of your choosing. If you don’t check in within 5 minutes of your requested time it will alert your emergency contacts that something might be wrong. You can set a generic safety message (see text box below, at right), or if you are going on a blind date you can leave that person’s cell, email and physical description in the message for your emergency contacts. If you set a new check-in message before each new trip, you can also be sure that an attacker can’t just see the safe word in your text history.
How it works:
Step 1: Go to Kitestring and activate your phone number. A text message verification number will be sent to you. (Technically this is not an app but a combination web and sms service)
Step 2: Change your emergency message or keep their suggested template (shown here).
Step 3: Choose a check-in word and a duress code that seem innocuous.
Step 4: Add Kitestring to your phone contact list, but give it a human name so it seems like you are just texting a friend in case someone with malintent is watching you.
Step 5: Input any number of emergency contacts that you want alerted if you send your duress signal or if you don’t check-in.
Step 6: Tell your friends they are on your emergency contact list and test the service with them.
Step 7: You can go to the webpage or send a text to Kitestring and choose a duration – say 45min. After 45min Kitestring will send you a text message. If you don’t respond with your safe word within five minutes, it will alert your emergency list.
Walking home from work, school or a party you can give yourself some piece of mind by setting up a Kitestring safecall to ping you when you expect to arrive home safe. There are other apps around rape prevention, but Kitestring is an elegant safety app in that it helps both genders feel safer about walking home at night or going on that blind date. This app (so far) has a gender neutral campaign and focuses on personal safety for anyone in several types of situations. Since it has a simple SMS set-up it will also work without an internet connection which is a big plus over other apps as well.
Of course the emergency message only works if your emergency contact knows to be on the lookout. My own test alert message to my emergency contact didn’t get a return phone call until three hours later. So make sure your emergency contacts know about the service and when you might be using it so they don’t just ignore the text for a few hours.
* Change your safe word periodically or before any blind dates, in case you get attacked the attacker will not be able to see your message history and guess your safe word.
* Give the service a human name so an attacker doesn’t realize it isn’t a human contacting you.
* This can be used overseas as well but since they are currently based in the USA: international texting rates apply.
* If something happens or you want to update your emergency message you can use your phone by sending: <duress message: YOUR MESSAGE>
* Need to extend the time when you will arrive home? Send another duration text such as 15min and it will extend. It will not let you extend past an hour of your original ETA without starting a new safecall.