Have you noticed the purple lighting and all the Pledge Purple flyers? This is in conjunction with FITs Pledge Purple Campaign to educate and end sexual and domestic violence. The Pledge Purple Campaign culminates this Tuesday, April 21st in the Breezeway from Noon – 2PM. FIT support services and community agencies will be on hand to discuss ways everyone can help to end violence. You can find out more about the Pledge Purple Campaign go to http://www.fitnyc.edu/24010.asp. In a show of support the IT website will be “wearing” purple and many of our staff too.
For Pledge Purple in October we shared some technology that exists to help increase safety. Below you will find our original reviews and our latest update.
Cuff – Wearable Security Device
Cost: $49 -$199 for jewelry and charger packages; Cuff App is free. cuff.io
What it does: A small electronic device that fits into various styles of jewelry and works with the phone App that can alert your friends and family (that you’ve selected) when you are in trouble when pressed. Your SOS message, location and live audio will be sent to the people you’ve selected until you receive help.
Tech Note: Like most of the wearable security options Cuff is only available for pre-order, so we didn’t get to test it out firsthand. Our review is based on online comparisons.
Why it’s our pick: Unlike the other options, Cuff promises additional features beyond security; including phone call alerts and fitness tracking. It also has the most stylish and varied jewelry selections.
Update: Cuff is still only available for pre-order, so we still haven’t tested it out firsthand. Orders will not be fulfilled until Summer 2015.
bSafe – A Personal Safety App
How it works: Set up your social safety network of friends and family. Then you can use various features to increase your safety. You can send out an alert if you are ever in trouble and your network will be notified of your location, an (optional) siren will sound and your phone will begin recording the events transpiring around you in case you need to present to the authorities later. You can set up a timer to automatically alert your safety network if you don’t check in as scheduled. You can share your location so your network can monitor that you arrive to your destination.
Tech Note: bSafe GPS features, like most apps, work with the phones data, so when you if aren’t connected to Wi-Fi or don’t have a signal (like on the subway) those features won’t work. The siren will still work and the fake call feature (personal favorite) will still work.
Why it’s our pick: bSafe was the best free app we found that offers many of the features the alternatives only offer if you purchase their pro or monthly subscriptions.
Alternative Apps: Circleof6, Guardly, OnWatch, StaySafe, React Mobile and many more.
Update: Some of us in IT have been using this app since October and it works great, most of the time. The problem discussed in the Tech Notes previously still exists, when you go into the subway and lose your signal your friends see you as not on the map or not moving. There have also been some bugs with updates but overall still our pick.
Kitestring – A Website & SMS Personal Safety Service
Cost: Free for 8 trips and 1 emergency contact or $3 per month for unlimited trips and contacts.
What it does: Uses SMS (text messaging) to connect you with your emergency contact/s to give them a heads up that you are going out and when you expect to check-in. You setup your account via the website www.kitestring.io. You can set up a distress code to be used if you are ever in trouble and check-in code to let your emergency contact/s know you are safe.
Tech Note: You will get a verification code from your new Kitestring number when you start the setup – this is the number you will text your distress and check-in code. Add it to your contacts, we suggest using a fake name and not Kitestring – so when you need to use it just looks like you’re texting a friend.
Why it’s our pick: If you don’t want to install another App or don’t have a smartphone this is good option. It is easy to use and you can customize your messages. Also, Kitestring is very good at reminding you to change your check-in and distress codes often or at least delete your message history.
Alternatives: There are many Apps that offer the same services if you have a smartphone.
Update: Kitestring is still a very good option for those that don’t have cellphone, let alone a smartphone. Do you have an old phone you don’t use? Consider donating it to a program like Verizon’s HopeLine to help victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Google Voice – Voicemail and Call Management
Cost: Free for all Gmail users
What it does: Google Voice is a call management application that allows google users to send text message, setup a voicemail and make calls via the computer or by connecting to their Google Voice to a mobile phone. Calls made in US and Canada to a US or Canadian number are free.
Tech Notes: We recommend using Google Voice as a security tool. You can create a Google Voice phone number to share on resumes or when you meet new people. It is much easier to change your Google Voice phone number than your cellphone number; you can just share your cellphone number with the people you trust. Google Voice also makes it easy to block numbers, screen calls and if you ever need to, messages are recorded and transcribed so you can share it with authorities.
Why it’s our pick: Google Voice is easy to use and has a great set of features all in one place. It integrates nicely with an account you already have set up (your FIT email with Google Apps for Education).
Alternatives: There are a number of apps that provide the individual features offered by Google Voice, such as call screening and blocking.
Update: Google voice is great and continues to add more features such as conference calling and number porting. We recommend using Google Voice as a security tool as we described in the Tech Notes above but please remember that Google Voice is a call management application; therefore you cannot place or receive emergency services calls (i.e. 911).