It’s a rough world out there, and you can find yourself in a dangerous situation in the blink of an eye. There have always been a variety of tools that people carry in order to feel safe – pepper spray, alert whistles, and it some cases, of course, guns & knives.
But one company thinks that your smartphone could be the best way to both deter and respond to crime.
PerpCast Inc.’s new app iWitness says that it will help “prevent crimes from happening, keep them from escalating when they do, make it easier for authorities to catch and prosecute criminals, and provide peace of mind for the user.” Once activated, the app will not only take audio and video of any event, but it will also store that data on a “secure server” that’s only accessible to law enforcement officials (the user will be provided with a copy as well).
Here’s how it works:
When you find yourself in a threatening environment (any scenario where you feel things might go down, I guess), you pull out your smartphone and click “Arm iWitness.” After that, you’ll be able to capture audio and video of any incident that arises with a single tap of the screen. If the situation gets even more out of hand, tap the screen again and 911 will be called (after a short delay to account for possible accidental taps).
If someone manages to knock your phone out of your hand before the opportunity to do that, it will recognize it and still dial 911.
iWitness will also do a couple more things to notify people around you that you’re in a sticky situation. The app has the ability to send pre-programmed friends and family members a message about your exact whereabouts.
Finally, as a deterrent, the app not only flashes a bright red light but sounds a loud alarm as well.
So, wouldn’t a gun just be easier? No, says iWitness:
Perpetrators are often able to take guns, tasers, or other weaponry from their victims, and use them to escalate their crime. But IWITNESS provides the one thing that criminals fear most, a witness to their actions. So the confrontation is discouraged without the inherent risk of deadly force.
Of course, a few things have to happen for iWitness to be truly effective. First, users have to know when (and when not) to use it – especially if they get far enough to dial 911. Second, there’s the obvious reliance on people to take video of possible robbers, rapists, and killers – all while presumably terrified.
But if users can keep up their end, and law enforcement can keep up theirs by monitoring the data – then the app could be incredibly useful in the aftermath of a crime – if not as a deterrent.
As of now, iWitness is only available on iOS – but an Android app is on its way. The app is free to download but requires a subscription to use ($3.99 a month, $29.99 a year, or $49.99 for a two-year plan).