A new company that privately monitors users’ location during an activity or task and raises a pre-set alarm if they don’t ‘’Get Home Safe’ has been launched in New Zealand.
Get Home Safe (GHS), believed to be the first app of its kind in New Zealand and Australia, is the brainchild of Kiwi entrepreneur Boyd Peacock, developed in conjunction with Dunedin-based website and design company Firebrand.
Aimed at people from all walks of life, the app is designed for users undertaking everyday activities such as children walking home from school alone, women travelling home after a night out and people working unsupervised.
Via a free smartphone app users register with GHS what they intend on doing, such as walking home after dark, and the time they will be ‘home safe’, for example in 15 minutes.
GHS then acts as a ‘guardian angel’ safely recording GPS location data and check-in prompts to privately watch over the user’s movements throughout their chosen activity.
If something unforeseen happens and the user doesn’t stop or extend tracking as planned, an alarm is raised and the information GHS safely recorded is sent to pre-selected personal emergency contacts.
As the alarm is sent from the GHS servers not the phone, users don’t need a working phone or coverage for the alarm to be raised.
“GHS actually calls for help when you can’t, it’s truly amazing and really could save someone’s life,” Peacock says.
“This app has been designed to be so simple, quick, private and free to use. I believe people will use it as they go about their day-to-day business.
“Who knows you’ve gone for that run or bike ride? Who knows you’re walking home late at night from the pub or bus stop, or that you’re driving the back road home this time?
“Who knows where your secret fishing spot is? Who knows exactly where you are working this afternoon? Who will know if you don’t get home safe?
“Even the best-made plans can encounter the unforeseen. Regular alarms prompt you to check-in, so if you ever did need help the alarm would be raised far quicker and your last location mapped by our servers,” he said.
Peacock says the app would also provide the ultimate ‘peace of mind’ for families with teenagers doing after school or weekend activities, especially as so many youngsters now have phones.
“GHS is not your mother, your boss or big brother and it’s certainly not the police. GHS does not judge or ask probing questions," he says.
“The neutrality of GHS provides a guardian for the activities in life that may carry a small element of risk giving people reassurance that their actions are being privately monitored should anything unforeseen happen.
The app is free to download from app stores from August 5 2013 and it is free in the email alert only format.
Within the app users can also choose to buy pre-paid text messages for 50 cents each, with a minimum purchase of $2.59, and use the text alert method. Unused text alerts are credited back to users if they check in on time.
Queenstown-based Peacock says GHS would also be ‘invaluable’ to those going out on day trips boating, tramping, fishing, kayaking or backcountry skiing.
GHS is a compliment to the traditional EPIRB beacon as “not every emergency or unforeseen event requires activating an expensive official search operation via a beacon.”
Users can opt to send their emergency contacts a pre-trip itinerary to allow them to follow the activity in real time or share ‘home safe’ summaries via social media.
Working with the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, Get Home Safe is going through the final stages of becoming an approved provider of outdoor intentions.
“We hope to become one of the listed organisations on www.adventuresmart.org.nz website in the next few weeks” Peacock says.
AdventureSmart is a website developed by the NZ Mountain Safety Council in collaboration with search and rescue agencies, safety organisations and Government to enable people to safely plan their outdoor activities.
The website contains useful tips, links and outdoor safety codes for key outdoor activities such as snow, water, boating and land based activities.
NZ Mountain Safety Council CEO Darryl Carpenter says he was “very impressed with the potential and accessibility of Get Home Safe.
“We are working closely with Get Home Safe to ensure it meets the requirements of becoming an approved outdoors intentions provider," Carpenter says.
“GHS will provide a valuable safety service for outdoor enthusiasts and there are clearly possibilities for other activities in everyday life.”
The GHS idea was inspired after Peacock read about a boating accident in Southland’s Foveaux Straight in 2012 when a group of fishermen’s boat sank with all their mobile phones and emergency equipment on board.
“I thought to myself, if only someone was monitoring the use and location of a smart phone on board it could have been apparent much earlier that the fishermen had capsized and even where it happened, the alarm could have been raised much earlier,” he says.
“GHS sends alarms independently of mobile phone coverage so if the fishermen had set regular half hour alarms with GHS then the alarm would have been raised as soon as they missed their first check-in and their last known location identified."
Get Home Safe is available to download from Apple’s New Zealand App Store from today August 5 2013. It will be rolled out into the New Zealand Google Play store for Android users late August and then internationally in coming months.
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