By TILEAH DOBSON
A new safety app has launched in Australia, joining others such as the Tinder Panic Button in giving Australians of all ages and genders peace of mind when going out.
The app, called Safie, features an I’m Not OK button and aims to offer individuals, families and friends reassurance that help is just one button press away. It’s especially designed to help those who cannot approach someone face to face.
Created by three friends, Ross Sbisa, Chris Jonker and Matt Ball, the catalyst for its creation was the fatal attack on Jill Meagher on 22 September, 2012. After hearing the devastating news, the three friends decided that safety in Australia shouldn’t be a luxury, but a necessity.
“I am a father with three beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife. I thought to myself, ‘This has to stop’,” Sbisa said.
After discovering through conversations with his wife how scarce information on safety was, Sbisa roped Jonker and Ball into the discussion. With Ball’s background in personal security and Jonker’s job as a digital expert, the idea of an app was born.
It took eight years of planning and two years of hard development, but it was worth every second.
Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa and Chris Jonker (left to right). Photo: supplied.
Originally made with the intention of keeping children safe, the trio subsequently realised the full extent of possibilities the I’m Not OK button held. Features of the app include the user selecting a designated contact when there is trouble, sending images from both the front and the back of the camera, and pinpointing the user’s location.
“At first we began thinking about all the situations our kids might find themselves. We came up with everyday events like going to and from school or school sport, going to the movies or the beach with friends, wandering away on family shopping trips,” Sbisa said.
“Then the ideas started to grow; a teen needing to be picked up from a party, an adult needing a phone call to get them out of a first date mistake, an older person who has had a mishap or even someone who is feeling low.”
“The more research we did, the more uses we found. A young driver can let a parent know they’ve arrived safely. Businesses can use it for employees coming and going at late hours through areas that do not feel safe,” Jonker said.
The app’s drawing feature is its panic button, utilising pre-written SMS messages that can alert designated contacts when help is needed. This unique feature can send friend-to-friend ‘get me out of here’ messages or a child-to-parent ‘I’m lost’ message.
The app is available on both Android and IOS, with four tiers for customers to use. The Panic and ‘Not OK’ tiers are free, with the other two tiers free for the first twenty-eight days and then a monthly subscription of $9.95.
While presently available only in Australia, adjustments are being made to the app to offer it overseas, after positive feedback from customers. There is no age cap to limit users who seek to utilise the I’m Not OK button’s safety features.
“Most important though, is talking to one another. People freeze when they’re frightened. Working out how to get out of a dangerous or awkward situation can take time or be impossible at the moment,” Sbisa said.
“If you’ve worked it out before, you can act. You get help, you get out and you get safe.”
For more information on the Safie App and the I’m Not Okay Button, visit www.safie.com.au.
Tileah Dobson is the news editor of the Sydney Sentinel.
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