AMARILLO, Texas (KVII) —
A few years ago, coming back from a friend’s place was not usually followed by a text letting them know you arrived home safely, but such texting has become the norm.
These day’s it seems as if no place is immune from danger, and people are always looking for new and better ways to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Currently, technology is playing a big role in providing protection and so, ABC 7 took a look at how our phones can offer some peace of mind.
“The app really assists you in knowing that your loved ones are watching and loved ones will respond for you if you can’t,” said Noel Kersh. “I like to know where my people are. I like to know where my kids are, where my wife is.”
The app Kersh’s family uses is Life 360. It’s one of the most popular personal safety apps out there right now.
“It’s a location app and so at any given moment in time I can look at my Life 360 app and see that both my kids are at their perspective schools, my wife is at work, and I’m at my office,” said Kersh.
For those in your circle, the app also shows battery percentages, allows you to monitor driving behaviors, and set up perimeters.
“I set up a perimeter around my kids’ schools, so if my teenage daughter decides to leave in the middle of the day, I’ll know about it,” explained Kersh.
The app also includes a crash indicator, and you have the ability to provide emergency assistance if necessary.
“Thankfully we haven’t had any incident where we’ve had to provide emergency assistance to one of our loved ones, but in case that does occur, we will have the information we need to assist medical personnel and get to our loved ones,” said Kersh.
Life 360 is just one of many apps out there and some universities are even creating their own apps to improve student safety.
One of those universities is Canyon’s own West Texas A&M.
“This app, it basically puts the information at their fingertips, and they can get the service quickly, conveniently, and they will utilize the service,” said Robert Byrd, assistant police chief with the university police department.
The app was a joint project between UPD and the university’s IT department. UPD said what features they wanted included, and the IT department got to work.
Included in the app is a tab with all contact information for UPD, an area to submit crime tips and report hazards, and there is a map of campus.
“We had some of these services in place for awhile and we felt they weren’t being utilized as well as they could be and probably because we didn’t have an easy way to do it,” said Byrd.
The app will hopefully drop in the app store within the next couple weeks.
“You never know when emergencies will come up. So you can just download it, have it on your phone just in case and if an emergency comes up, UPD is a couple of taps away,” said Eyoel Mengesha, a member of WT’s IT Department.
In addition to being a dad, Kersh is a digital forensics examiner. He told ABC 7 that apps like Life 360 as well as basic GPS information, can help in court cases and investigations.
“So an example where we used this type of information was a murder case and a suspect that claimed he wasn’t in the area when particular events happened. But we were able to get his phone and show that his phone at least was exactly in the location at exactly the time the crime occurred, and even tracking the days following where he went back to the scene of the crime,” explained Kersh.
It also helped one of the company’s clients prove his innocence.
“For us, it’s a tool of justice really and justice works both ways. It puts guilty people in jail and sets innocent people free,” said Kersh.
While technology has advanced to give us these safety features, more and more people are concerned about privacy.
“For this visibility, for my family to see where I’m at and for me to see where they are at, there’s a price,” said Kersh.
And in a digital world, privacy can be hard to come by.
“It’s something that every person has to make that decision for themselves,” said Kersh. “Are they comfortable putting that information out there about where they are and where their loved ones are? But there are definitely benefits to taking that step.”
Whether you are in immediate trouble, get separated from friends during a night out, or get lost – having an app on your phone can reduce your risk and bring help when needed.