Good news for those of us feminists who haven’t made the switch to iPhones – YWCA Canada has now launched its Safety Siren app for Blackberry (I understand plans for an Android app are also in the works). You can download the app for free here at the Blackberry app store.
When YWCA Canada launched its iPhone Safety Siren just over a year ago, I hadn’t got an iPhone yet (I now have one for work but use a Blackberry for my personal phone), so this was the first chance I had to really try it.
If you’re not familiar with the idea behind the app, Safety Siren is an app targeted at young women in particular, that “turns your phone into a multi-functional safety device”. The most prominent function is the siren itself. You can set it to be easy or difficult to trigger, and when you set it off it makes a loud alarm sound to alert people in the vicinity to the fact you may be in danger. You can also program it to immediately BBM a particular contact or call someone. It’s basically a technologically advanced improvement on the idea of a rape whistle.
But that’s not all it’s about. YWCA Canada Communications Director Corinne Rusch-Drutz says, “What I love best about the Safety Siren for BlackBerry smartphones is that it focuses on making preventative choices about safety before heading out.” In addition to the siren, the app gives accessible answers on FAQs on dating safety, sexual health, and other wellness issues. And one of the things I think I’d find most useful is the app’s ability to use your geo-location to find nearby emergency hotlines, crisis centres, health clinics, YWCAs, and other resources.
I found the app to be unintimidating in its presentation of content, as well as just being very navigable and easy to use. But I was curious about whether the YWCA had any analysis of how the iPhone app has been used.
I spoke with Rusch-Drutz, who said she’s been really pleased with the response to the iPhone app and hopes the app will continue to be a good resource for Blackberry users:
“The kind of feedback we get about it is less about it’s using in an emergency situation. We know people do use it for that because we see the analytics. Where we’re finding out people are using it is for the geo-location to the services that you need. There will be over 300 places that the app will connect you to across Canada that provide services and help for women and girls, including local YWCAs. So it’s exciting that people are using it like that,” she said.
When I asked what got the YWCA to decide to create an app in the first place, Rusch-Drutz replied, “For us it was a natural place to go. Where are women going to go to look for information that is private and safe? It was clear through our research that the safest place was your phone.”