With the new app bSafe, the chances of you feeling threatened or in danger are significantly reduced. Mobile developer Bipper released the app that offers safety and protection with the touch of a button. It signals out to your emergency contacts that you are in need of help and even shares your location.
Elite interviewed Silje Vallestad, the founder of bSafe, on how she came about the idea and some of the features it offers.
The bSafe is an app that offers people the security of never having to walk alone again. What are some ways in which the app provides this?
Walking alone at night or even during the day through a deserted area like a park or parking lot can be frightening. bSafe gives users peace of mind with the ability to trigger an SOS alarm in case something happens and immediately notify a safety network of selected friends and family, also known as guardians. If a dangerous situation arises, you simply trigger the SOS alarm, which activates a siren and sends a text to all your selected guardians with your GPS position and a video of what’s occurring in real time.
Was there a certain scenerio or event that occurred in your life that sparked the idea for bSafe?
Like many women, I am worried when walking home alone at night, and I know my female friends are also nervous walking home from parties or the office. I was inspired to create bSafe because of a desire for better safety through instant connection. The app also includes an SOS alarm that you hope you never have to trigger, but if you do use it, you get a brilliant service that does many things at once: it contacts guardians, enables GPS tracking and gathers evidence. When building the service, we knew it had to combine all the features that the phone has to offer in terms of sound, text, video and location – harnessing everything at once to maximize security.
The app also offers "guardians" for you to add on your phone. Can you explain the purpose of having a guardian on your phone and what their job entails?
Guardians are basically just our term for your personal safety network. When you set up bSafe, you are asked to designate guardians, and you can choose as many as you want. Guardians are selected friends and family members whom you want the alarm to reach. If you trigger the alarm, your guardians will be notified by receiving a text with your live GPS location. We advise people to select as many guardians as possible to maximize safety.
What are some of the other features on bSafe and how do they work?
We offer a feature called Follow Me, which enables the user to ask friends and family members to walk with them via live GPS tracking. It enables you to push a button, which says Follow Me, and you select which guardians you want to walk with you. Follow Me also has a timer function that enables you to set a specific time for when you are supposed to arrive at your destination. If you don’t check in by the time you designate, the SOS alarm will sound. Another key feature is the Fake Call function, which can help users escape awkward or uncomfortable situations or enable them to pretend that they are talking to someone while walking alone. Fake Call was developed for two reasons: the first is to reassure users who are alarmed by someone walking behind them. With Fake Call, you can trigger your phone to ring as a signal that you are not alone. Secondly, Fake Call can assist users who are seeking a way out of a potential dangerous situation; contrary to popular belief, most rape victims are assaulted by an acquaintance rather than a stranger. For college students, dormitories and off-campus parties can provide aggressors an opportunity to corner a potential victim in an isolated area. Fake Call gives you a way to simulate an incoming call with a family member – your dad, for example – and allow you to escape from an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. I’m Here is another safety function: it allows users to notify guardians of their whereabouts through a text with a live GPS location. Sometimes you may need an easy way to share your location: Maybe your boyfriend is picking you up, and you can’t quite describe where you are, or a friend wants to join you at a party and you’re not aware of your exact location.
There is another app called mobilekids which is primarily for younger children. Besides this, what are some of the main differences between MobileKids and bsafe?
I have three children of my own, and I realized that kids are getting cell phones at an early age these days, which has resulted in a loss of parental control. I started developing MobileKids when my oldest daughter began attending school. When my daughter was at school, her teacher was watching over her, and I was watching over her at home, but when she was walking home from school, no one really knew where she was. I wanted to add safety features while also providing her with a regular adult phone that allowed me, as a mother, to define usage limits.
The bSafe app originated in Norway and now it is available in the US. Where else can one find the app? Do you have any plans for expanding bSafe?
bSafe is available globally, and it can be downloaded via the for Android and iPhone app stores. We have made it available globally but initially focused marketing efforts on Norway. I moved the company to the US to increase public awareness in this market. Right now, personal services like bSafe and MobileKids are still a niche. If you ask the average woman on the street which safety app she has on her phone, she is most likely not going to know. We want people to understand how easy it is to install and how it can help users in dangerous situations.
bSafe ensures safety and provides protection for those who may find themselves in a dangerous scenerio. What is a dream accomplishment for bSafe and where do you wish to see the business later down the road?
Every time we save or help someone in a dangerous situation, is a dream come true for us. Knowing that women have been attacked and were able to avoid rape or other assaults because they used bSafe and triggered the alarm is proof that our service saves lives. My dream scenario now is to make everyone aware that this service is available and to position bSafe as a standard on every single phone out there.