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An iPhone app for alerting family and friends during an emergency

March 18, 2010 |  6:01 am

Security3 Ever been in an emergency situation where you can't call 911 and you need a simple, quick way to alert someone about your exact location and that you may be in danger? Few of us would expect this phrase next, but ... now there's an app for that.

The $3.99 app is called Silent Bodyguard and using it is simple. The app sends an emergency alert and your GPS location about every 60 seconds to the number and e-mail address you list when setting up the application, without alerting onlookers or potential attackers. (The background of the main page containing the emergency alert button is just a picture of a river, see the picture below.)


When I tested the app, it sent an e-mail to several of my assigned contacts that read: "This is Zo, I am in an emergency situation, please help!" It also gave a link to Google Maps showing my approximate location when I was sending the alert. In most cases it was within a block of where I was. Because it sends alerts every 60 seconds, those getting the alerts can also track your movement. (The app does not call 911)

The application was created by a mother as a means to keep her kids safe. MSNBC analyst and former FBI chief hostage negotiator and criminal profiler Clint Van Zandt (known for profiling Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber) recently endorsed the application, and the app now links to his website.

This is one of the few apps that I've seen that I would consider a necessity for my phone.

My only caution to users would be to do an emergency test after installing the application. When I first tested the application, it didn't work precisely as it should because I hadn't updated my iPhone in a while. Also, the application has to stay on for the alert to continue and the phone has to be in an area with cellphone service.

-- Zohreen Adamjee