The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is endorsing a smartphone app designed by a Waterloo, Ont.-based firm to help keep women safe.
Mindr Mobile Inc. released its Personal Monitor app to Google Play just one week ago. It works as an automatic alarm that will contact a user’s close friends or family in the event there is the possibility of an emergency situation. The app prompts the user to check-in with it periodically. If the user can’t respond, then an alert is triggered and a canned message is sent to pre-determined contacts by text or phone call.
“Often people find themselves in a situation where they may need assistance, but they can’t reach their phone,” says Bob Young, the CEO of Mindr Mobile Inc. “Our app checks on the user periodically at a preset time. So the user can decide what they think their risk level is.”
Mindr Mobile and the NCWC are partnering to share revenue from sales made of the mobile app. One-sixth of the revenue will go to the council.
“It’s pretty difficult to fundraise and this seemed like a good opportunity because it fit with our mandate,” says Denise Mattock, president of the NCWC. It was also a good opportunity to support a Canadian company.
The app will help improve safety and security for women, Mattok says. As a widow, she plans to use Personal Monitor herself. It’s a good way for elderly women who live alone to have an extra safety check in place.
“This is an easier thing than subscribing to one of those services where you press a button if you have a fall and can’t get up,” she says.
Mindr Mobile didn’t consult police before developing the app and releasing it to Android’s app store, Young says. But now he’s hearing interest from authorities.
To avoid a problem with false alarms related to the app, only friends and family can be contacted by the automatic alert. Users won’t be allowed to enter “911” as the contact phone number, for example. A message sent out by the alert can include GPS location, a recent photo of the sender, information related to the activity the sender was engaged in when the alert was sent, and other text written by the sender.
While most paid-for mobile apps are sold for a one-time payment, Personal Monitor charges a subscription of $2.99 per month. That monthly fee allows access to the application that will be updated frequently, Young says. For example, options to run the app discretely – so only the smartphone owner knows its working, will be added soon.
Mattok, who is buying an Android phone so she can start using the app, says she doesn’t have a lot of experience with downloading mobile apps. She’s not sure how many members of the council have Android phones.
The app is compatible with Android devices and is available for a monthly subscription of $2.99.