Hands-On With the SafeTrek Safety AppBy - 02/05/2018
Many women are terrified of walking home alone at night, even in their own neighborhood. Some women call a friend or family member while walking to their car in uncomfortable situations while others keep their phones open with 9-1-1 ready to dial. SafeTrek is an app that wants to be the virtual buddy that walks you home when you need it the most.
What is SafeTrek?
SafeTrek is a mobile app for Android or iOS that focuses on your safety. Once you download the SafeTrek app, you can press and hold the shield icon to initiate your virtual security guard. If all is well, release the shield and enter your pin to deactivate the service. If you need help, release the shield and SafeTrek will send help.
Using the SafeTrek App
Last week I was attending a late night book club. The meeting location was downtown, and I had to park a few blocks away from the café. Typically, I call my husband on this type of late night walk, but even when I do, I don’t feel completely at ease. After all, if I needed help, he would first have to figure out my location and then call and relay that information to the police. This time, I decided to use SafeTrek and my anxiety went away. I felt more aware of my surroundings because I wasn’t talking on the phone. I also felt safer knowing if I released my hold on the shield icon I would have help, sent to my exact location, within a few minutes.
Once I got back into my car and locked my doors, I released my hold on the SafeTrek shield icon and entered my PIN. As long as you type your PIN within a 10-second window, emergency services aren’t called. If you don’t type your pin, the app will assume you’re in danger and an alert will be sent to SafeTrek’s team. From there, SafeTrek will contact the authorities with your location. According to Caleb Chesnut, Lead Designer at SafeTrek,
Anytime an alarm is triggered via (the) app or Alexa, our call center gets a notification. The agents are able to see profile information and exact location. They reach out to confirm the emergency and then, if needed, relay the information to local emergency services.
Getting started with SafeTrek and using the app is simple, but it’s not flawless.
One flaw I found is the size of the shield. It’s a large icon but because it’s located in the center of the screen people with small hands and large phones may feel awkward pressing and holding the button if multitasking (carrying a small child or a bag of groceries). I have an iPhone 6 Plus, so people with smaller phones may not have the same concern. It would be nice if the entire screen served as the button. I didn’t have any other difficulties using this app, but I did have one more non-app related complaint.
I felt like my profile wasn’t protected. Within the app, your pin shows right next to your name. If someone steals your phone, the thief would be able to open the app and read your home address and other personal information, including your pin. It would be safer for the user to have their profile information hidden unless one enters the correct pin first.
SafeTrek is Not Free
With Safetrek, your first month is free. After your trial period ends, it’s only $2.99 per month. There’s also an option to pay $29.99 per year. The yearly choice did not present itself to me when I set up my profile, and it’s not on the menu or settings section of the app. But when I looked at the SafeTrek website and my Apple subscriptions, I found the yearly option. You can also gift a year to someone else for the same price through the website. Regardless of which option you choose (monthly or yearly), the price is a small price to pay for safety 24/7.
SafeTrek vs. 9-1-1
There are a few reasons why SafeTrek is better than dialing 9-1-1 directly.
First off, when you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone, emergency services don’t have access to your exact location. When you dial 9-1-1 from a landline, emergency services can link your phone number to your physical address. A 2015 USA Today report reveals that 9-1-1’s overall lack of specific location data often has tragic results. Since SafeTrek uses your phones GPS instead of a cell phone tower to pinpoint your location, emergency services can reach you quicker than dialing a 9-1-1 operator.
Two, SafeTrek is on standby. Let’s say you get into your car, forget to lock the doors, and a stranger gets in the car with you. It’s unlikely you will have time to dial 9-1-1 and explain what’s going on. But if you’re using SafeTrek, you can release your hold on the shield button without the stranger realizing what you’re doing.
Another scenario involves being home alone. If you hear people breaking into your house, you want to be as quiet as possible to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Again, calling from your cell phone will require that you relay your location information, unless you use Smart 911, which may put you in a vulnerable position. On the other hand, the SafeTrek app allows you to be completely silent when calling for help. After a quick tap of the button and a 10-second wait, SafeTrek is contacted. The SafeTrek team will first try to contact you via phone or text message to get more information about your situation. If you’re unable to answer their call or text message, they will contact emergency services on your behalf.
SafeTrek Works With Alexa, IFTTT, Nest, and More
One of the biggest disadvantages of using SafeTrek for fast emergency service is that it is an app. Unless your finger is already in place, you must unlock your phone, open the app, and click for help. The solution? Integrations.
SafeTrek can link to a variety of other applications and devices, including Amazon Alexa. If you’re not able to get to your phone you can ask Alexa to help. For example, “Alexa, tell SafeTrek to send help.” SafeTrek also works with Google Home in a similiar manner as well as other third-party services/devices like IFTTT, Nest Protect, and Ring. Of all the options, the IFTTT integration is the most interesting.
IFTTT is a free service that allows you to create rules, called applets, that connect devices and services that don’t normally work together. Applets are created in an “If This Then That” format where This is a Trigger and That is an Action. SafeTrek’s IFTTT channel has one Trigger and two Actions. SafeTrek’s Trigger is “Alarm Triggered.” When you take your finger off the shield, IFTTT will run your Applet. As an Action, you can choose between “Trigger Alarm With Address (Street Address, Apt, Suite, Unit, City, State, Zip,” or “Trigger Alarm (Latitude and Longitude).”
In addition to smart home services and products, there are many “lifestyle” and medical apps that can link to SafeTrek. The current list includes Uber, Facebook, Tinder, Runkeeper, Letgo, FitBit, Health, and Smart Monitor. If you’re getting a ride from Uber and start to feel unsafe, you can notify SafeTrek who will then contact the police with the Uber driver’s information, your trip details, and your location. While Ubering, you can text SafeTrek or follow the same press and release instructions.
Within the menu tab of the app, you’ll also find other integrations. Just click the app you want to pair with and follow the steps provided.
Soon, SafeTrek will also work with Oomi.
The power of SafeTrek will be accessible from within the Oomi app. If your Oomi alarm detects an emergency, you can open the app, place your finger on the shield, and then decide if you want to clear the alarm or call for help.
SafeTrek is a comforting and empowering application that gives the user peace of mind. I felt safer knowing I had an app at my fingertips that would help me out in the event of an emergency. For women, in particular, SafeTrek offers an extra layer of security. Home safety improves too thanks to third-party integrations, especially IFTTT and Oomi.