Your Smartphone Could Save Your Life

Going to college in a major city, you have probably been told to be “street smart.” Don’t walk alone, especially at night. Try to avoid dark streets. Keep your iPhone and wallet hidden. Don’t appear oblivious of your surroundings. Boston College offers self-defense courses, and almost every college tour explains the blue light system. At the heart of these warnings is a truth we all know: bad things happen. They happen to good and well-prepared people. Every one of these measures is about being prepared for something you never expect to happen to you. So what else can you do?

A recent MIT graduate named Stephen Boyer sought to answer this question with a new safety measure. He developed a way that could allow your smartphone—the one that is eternally glued to your person—to save your life. More than a friend, your phone is typically the one companion you part with the least. If you find yourself walking alone at night, whether it’s from a party or work, this app could be worth your while.

This app is called Kitestring. You are, in essence, the somewhat free-floating kite meandering through the sky; your phone is the string that keeps you tied to the ground and capable of being reached. Before you leave a location, you can set Kitestring to “check in” with you in a set period of time. When that amount of time has passed, Kitestring will send you a text message prompting a response.

Screenshot courtesy of Christie Merino/Gavel Media

Screenshot courtesy of Christie Merino/Gavel Media

Unlike other apps of this genre, which require the user to open the app and send an alert in a dangerous situation, Kitestring is enabled by inaction. It seems intuitive, but Boyer’s app is the first to automatically send an alert if the user does not respond after the allotted time. The alert is a customizable message sent to your designated emergency contacts. It could be as simple as, “Hey, call me. I left a while ago and might be in trouble.” If you know your travel time is going to take longer than you expected, you can easily alter it.

Although we are strong, independent college students, whose concerned mothers are miles away, we still need to be responsible and safe. This app can help us do so. As people continue to take steps toward safer cities and college campuses, as well as increased awareness about sexual assault and better ways to prevent it, Kitestring is a helpful addition. If you are interested in Kitestring, find it here: http://www.kitestring.io/

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