What to ask when choosing between safety apps and devices
What to ask when choosing between safety apps and devices.
Safety apps and devices, where do you start? Are you in the market for a safety app? If you are, you were no doubt surprised by how many different safety apps are on the market now, but what do you need to know when choosing between them all? Are all safety apps and safety devices created equal? Are you better off with a separate safety device or panic button? If you’re not sure exactly where to start then read on to find out what you need to consider when choosing a device.
How Accurate is the Location Service or GPS?
The first question is: does my safety solution send location info if I activate an alert? If so how accurate is my location service? This is one of the most important points to consider. The more accurate the location the faster managers or emergency personnel can find you.
Our previous blog, Why Only App Based Personal Safety Devices can Have Location Tuning, explains how inaccurate some personal safety devices can be when it comes to locations. If the safety app doesn’t know where you are, how will anyone looking for you be able to pinpoint your location? Location services are still a work in progress. Anyone who has used Google Maps from their living room knows how often the app thinks you are next door. Or even five or six houses down the road.
The best solution, employed by the best safety apps, is to make sure your device has a manual input for the address. With this feature, you are able to record your exact location. For example, if a real estate agent is going into an apartment building they can input the apartment number or a floor level for extra safety. Not all safety apps or devices have this feature. If you don’t have the ability to correct the location, then your emergency contact, or even emergency services, may not be able to find you when it counts.
Are All Devices Created Equal?
Another important consideration is the type of phone or device you are using. Not all devices are equal when it comes to location services. According to a whitepaper from Rhode & Schwars: “With the evolution of cellular technologies from 2G towards 4G, the approach to providing location-based services has developed from simple satellite-based positioning to complex trilateration methods and hybrid solutions.” In other words, some older devices can’t keep up with the advancing technology. But, if you have the option to manually correct the location, the kind of device you are using no longer matters.
When it comes to safety apps, the more accurate and adjustable your location settings are the better off you are. Hardware devices often cannot be updated but if they can it is a back to base option with some flaky software and a cable that if you move it the whole process has to start again. App-based solutions are continually being developed and an update is a single click process of in most cases automatic.
Is the Safety App Monitored?
Not all safety apps are professionally monitored. It’s important to determine if professionals are monitoring the app you are purchasing, or if it simply sends out an alert. Some safety apps send out a text message alert when activated, usually to family and friends. It’s important to keep in mind that family and friends may be busy, travelling or have their phones switched off. Most people are not available 24/7, but your choice of safety app does depend on your specific needs. For example, if you’re looking for an app to make sure your teenagers get home safe after a night out, an app that sends out a text message, such as the Guardian Duress Alert App, might be exactly what you need.
This kind of alert app sends out a text message to up to 5 contacts when activated. While this is perfect for some situations, at other times you may need a more immediate response. For example, if you are looking for a Lone Worker Safety Solution for your employees, then the WSG Safety App is more appropriate. Features such as the meeting timer allow the user to set the safety app and then go about their work. If something were to happen to them, they don’t have to set off an alert, the safety app’s reminder prompts them to check in. If they don’t, an alert goes straight to the professional monitoring team. The alert also has the manual location entered as well as the live location from the smartphone.
Alert system, or safety solution?
One is an alert system, the other is a safety solution. An alert system that isn’t monitored can’t send out emergency services or activate a prearranged emergency plan. If you are a large company who employs lone workers, you can’t put a price on professional monitoring. It’s an extra level of protection for members of your team. See our previous blog for more reasons why you should invest in lone worker safety.
Who is monitoring the safety app?
Another point to consider is who is doing the monitoring? It’s all well and good to subscribe to a safety app and pay for monitoring, only to find out that the monitoring centre is someone’s iPhone! Again, that’s fine in some situations, until the phone network goes down, or the iPhone gets broken? Take some time to look into who’s on the other end if there is an emergency situation. Also, ask what level of redundancy the servers use that receive the alerts. Great safety apps have dedicated servers in geographically opposed data centres. If you are looking for a professionally monitored solution, ask:
- Does the monitoring centre monitor other products such as home alarms, business alarms, duress and PERSA devices? This will give you an idea of their professionalism.
- Are they a registered monitoring centre with emergency service?
- Do they have national coverage?
- Is there an association with a national private security company if required?
There are other important considerations to make when choosing between safety apps or devices. Including certification standards, country or origin and the software versus hardware debate. Part two of this blog is coming soon, follow us on LinkedIn for more information.
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