News Column

Rapid response from smartphone app

August 22, 2014

We already use our smartphones as webcams and scanners, and now there's an app that acts as a panic button in case of an emergency.

Rapid Response director Marlize Holtzhausen, who came up with the idea after her sister was attacked in 2010, said it was planned for use specifically in South Africa.

Launched only last month, Rapid Response has already been downloaded 3 600 times.

Based on cellphone, GPS and near field communication (NFC) technologies, the app is designed to alert emergency services and facilitate rapid response in the event of an accident or attack. Rapid Response works on Apple, Android and Blackberry operating systems, and Holtzhausen said applications for Windows would be released soon.

Once downloaded, the app is activated in three ways - by manipulating the volume button, tapping the "I am in Trouble" button, or by swiping any NFC tag positioned around the home or vehicle. This tag could also be a designed armband that a user can swipe the phone over triggering the app to send out an alert.

Holtzhausen said Rapid Response was working in partnership with ER24 to handle all alerts and that ER24 responded within two minutes.

Users enter their information on to the app.

"All medical aid details are filled in on the app. This is important as ER24 will immediately know if they have to take you to a private hospital or not," Holtzhausen said.

When an alert is sent out, supporting information such as the location of the emergency, the nearest hospital, police station, the user's medical aid and insurance details, are sent to ER24, as well as to their pre-selected Reponse members.

The app has a R49.99 a month a person subscription.

Payment is made with credit or debit cards on the app store.

Rapid Response was recognised as the most innovative submission in the information and communications technology category in the International Labour Organisation's enterprise challenge last year. It was also awarded the best application prize at the Google Fest Entrepreneurship competition last month.

Weekend Argus

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Source: Weekend Argus (South Africa)

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