California-based start-up Guardian Circle has launched an app that links users in a peer-to-peer personal safety network.
The app, also called Guardian Circle, allows members to notify friends or family whenever they feel at risk by sending alerts, ranging in urgency from "test" to "request" and "emergency". Each alert creates a chat room, where designated friends and family members can coordinate next steps and ensure the person most able to respond attends to the signal.
Along with letting vulnerable people summon help quickly, without having to text friends or call 911, the app also provides a simple way of gaining support for less serious issues. For example, a mother stuck at work could send out an alert and arrange for her children to be picked up from school by someone in her network who is free or nearby.
The service is likely to prove popular with parents, who will install the app for their children to encourage them to send alerts when they feel unsafe or need something. For more on the apps, devices and networks that are aiding parenthood, see Decoding Digital Parents.
Other useful applications may include distributing care for those who suffer from mental conditions, such as epilepsy or dissociative episodes, or the elderly. Our Seniors Level Up report further explores the digital services that are helping seniors stay independent for longer.
The current version of the free app is iOS-only, but an Android version is set to follow by the end of March 2016.