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Best Apps for Women Concerned with Safety and Security

Reduce Your Chances of Becoming a Victim, Get Help Quickly With These Apps

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The best way to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime (robbery, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence) is to identify and call on resources to help you out of dangerous situations. These five iPhone and Android apps put those resources at your fingertips quickly, and several of them have both free and premium versions. Whether you're in immediate trouble or get separated from friends during a night out and don't know how to get home, having these apps on your phone can reduce your risk and bring assistance when you need it. Although several were originally developed for students to reduce the risk of sexual assault on campus, they are suitable for all women:

1. Circle of 6

Courtesy of Circle of 6
Free
Available on iPhone
This app is a must-have for any woman with an iPhone. Designed for college students, Circle of 6 is also useful for high school students or any female of any age who wants an easy-to-use system to alert friends when she's in a threatening situation. As fully functional as those apps which require you to subscribe to a monthly/yearly service plan, Circle of 6 has an unobtrusive screen that's simple to operate. Two taps will send out one of three predetermined text messages to 6 contacts of your choice including a call for help getting home that automatically includes an address and map of your exact location, or a request for a phone call from you to break up a tense situation. The app also contains pre-programmed national hotline numbers and a local number you can customize for campus security, police or 911. Circle of 6 is the winner of the Department of Health and Human Services / White House "Apps Against Abuse" Challenge and its four developers have significant expertise in the fields of sexual violence prevention, mobile technology, graphic design and healthy relationship building. Three in fact are women.

2. Hollaback!

Courtesy of Hollaback!
Free
Available on iPhone and Android
""Hollaback! You have the power to end street harassment" is the tag line for this app which tackles the crime one perpetrator at a time. Users can choose to take and upload a photo of their harasser "caught in the act" and submit their story to be recorded and mapped on ihollaback.org. This not only signals the perpetrator that his image will be shared and posted on a street harassment prevention website, but also warns others of areas in which harassment occurs. Hollaback's premise is that "street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence OK." They encourage users to submit stories and photos of street harassment at every level from catcalls from total strangers to groping hands on a crowded bus and individuals exposing themselves on a subway. An estimated 80-90% of women have been harassed in public, and as Hollaback's executive director Emily May explains, she has a ten-year goal -- to end street harassment so that she's out of a job. In addition to the apps and website, Hollaback is part of an international movement with locally-based Hollaback organizations in major cities and metropolitan areas in over 18 countries.

3. bSafe

Courtesy of bSafe
Free and Subscription Versions
Available on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry
A personal safety alarm that sends an emergency message to your chosen contacts with the push of a single button, bSafe's slogan is "Never walk alone." The free version allows you to set up a safety net of "Guardians" who can respond to your SOS text message; one Guardian you designate will receive a phone call.(Both versions give you an unlimited number of Guardians available by text message; the subscription version gives you up to 3 Guardians who can be called simultaneously.) All Guardians receive a text message with a link to a map showing your location via GPS. You can also program a Fake Incoming Call if you are threatened, with six options for when the call should be initiated (immediately, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.) The subscription version of bSafe gives you two additional levels of safety: a Risk Mode with real time GPS tracking of your position, and a Timer Mode with automatic alarm activation (e.g. if you don't log in after the programmed time period, your Guardians will receive an alert with your entire route mapped out.) The cost for the bSafe Premium subscription is $1.99/month or $14.99/year. The original idea was developed by Silje Vallestad, a mom who wanted to use mobile technology to keep her kids safe. With no knowledge of the industry, she won a business plan competition and used the money to create a safety alarm for kids, BipperKids. When other women told her they were "borrowing" their kids phones for their evening runs, she created bSafe.

4. Guardly

Courtesy of Guardly
Free and Subscription Versions
Available on iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7
Guardly is a personal safety service that instantly connects you with your safety network and authorities in an emergency. This app differs from others in that it places a phone call to your contacts with your name, exact location, the type of emergency. (Being able to specify different contacts for different types of emergencies -- such as "Peanut Allergy," "Stroke" or "Walking Home Alone" -- differentiates this from other apps, and it also enable you to identify different locations you frequent such as "Home," "School" or "Work.") There's also a profile page where you can include personal information such as birthdate, eye/hair color, height, weight, blood type, plus medical information including existing conditions, allergies, medications, your doctor's name and phone number, insurance details and policy number. The subscription service enables responders to connect by conference call, and also texts/emails the group a link to an emergency response site where they can exchange messages, send photos, and locate each other on a map. The paid version also includes live location tracking and a direct connection to 911. Guardly Premium is $1.99/month or $19.99/year.

5. cab4me

Courtesy of cab4me
Free and Subscription Versions
Available on iPhone and Android
Get a cab. Anytime. Anywhere. That's the idea behind this mobile cab finder app. Click on cab4me and your phone's GPS shows your position on a map. You can select that as your approximate pickup location or choose a nearby taxi stand if one shows up based on available data. (The cab4me database will only show those companies willing to pick you up at your chosen location.) Switch to the call tab to get a list of local cab companies hand-picked by the cab4me database with available car types or payment methods. If the database has no cab company for your area, a local web search is performed so you'll always get a result. A Favorites tab enables you to quickly access your favorite companies and the app maintains a history of those you've recently called. The paid version at $1.99 includes a Trip Calculator so you can figure out the cost in advance.

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