Having a mobile phone won’t help you in an emergency
UK Startup GridLocate says “Having a mobile phone doesn’t guarantee you can be located in case of emergency.”.
“Despite the majority of us having GPS enabled smartphones, less than 1 in 20 people have a reliable way to locate their loved ones in case of emergency or concern. We still rely on SMS or phone calls to locate people, and this isn’t good enough”, according to GridLocate Founder Adrian Drewett.
“Take for example two car crashes reported in the UK news last year”. In the first, a car crash victim was found dead twenty hours after his car crashed because his vehicle was hidden by trees. And on Monday, the sad story of an injured five-year-old daughter found with her dead father in a crashed car which had been in a ditch for some time. “.
Adrian says that in situations like this, families, friends and the mobile phone companies can do more to help locate these people faster. His startup company GridLocate is developing a free safety app that installs onto smartphones and sends the persons’ accurate location to a central server every 15 minutes. Family can register their devices online at https://gridlocate.com, and in case of emergency or concern, parents or partners can view the last known location of their loved ones.
“GPS Tracker apps provide peace-of-mind. As well as seeing the person’s current location, you can also view their previous location history. This can be incredibly useful in locating someone if their phone is currently switched off, or they are unable to answer the phone. If their battery has died, knowing their direction of travel is still a good indicator of where they might be now.”
It isn’t just about family being able to locate you accurately. 83% of GridLocate’s users have opted-in to share their location with the emergency services in case of emergency and concern. When it matters most, privacy aside, people choose to share their location.
Peace of mind vs fear – Trust your mobile phone
Adrian points to the fear that goes through our mind when we cannot get hold of a family member or loved one. Humans are programmed to fear the worst. When a child or partner is late home, we worry that they have been in an accident or in bad company, or somewhere they shouldn’t be. We tend to reach for the phone and call them, and text them. If we don’t receive a response, it only heightens the fear that we are being ignored, or worse still, our loved one is badly injured.
But at what time do you call the police and report them missing? 1 hour, 2 hours, 8 hours? This is the situation where a GPS Tracker app built for safety – not spying – can help. It lets you see their location, and in most instances give you confidence that they are safe: that they are still at work, with friends, or at the cinema.
And if the worst should happen, having information about the persons’ last known location will help the emergency services establish the search area, and provide help more quickly to those who need it.
The app has already been installed in 81 countries and is helping people around the world to locate their family in case of emergency.
It’s an emergency. Do you know where you are?
The development team at GridLocate are also working on a new feature to help mobile phone users when they are in an emergency and need the help of the police, paramedics or fire brigade. They’ll shortly be releasing an update to their app which helps pinpoint your location when you make an emergency call.
According to Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, two-thirds of all emergency calls are now made from a mobile phone. However, unlike landlines which are fixed to a permanent address, it’s difficult for the call operator to get an accurate location from those using mobile phones. In many instances, the caller is unable to confirm their location, either because they are unable to communicate, or they do not know their precise location.
In this situation, the emergency authorities are dependent on the phone networks to establish a rough location for the individual. In built-up areas, this can be accurate to 100 meters, but on country roads, this accuracy might be up to 2kms. Emergency services need a better way to locate people in an emergency.
The new version of GPS Tracker is being updated to help mobile phone users in case of emergency. The app will recognise when you are dialling 999/911, and within a few seconds display your accurate location on a map, along with a description that includes a road name, nearest town and map coordinates. This allows the user to provide an accurate location quickly, reducing the time taken to get to you.
Improving Safety for everyone
Adrian hopes that eventually, all phones will include a more accurate and reliable way to locate people in case of emergency. BT and EE are currently trialling a new system called AML (Advanced Mobile Location) which could allow apps and handsets to communicate the device’s accurate location to operators in case of emergency. By working together, it’s hoped that someday soon applications like GPS Tracker and the AML service will help save lives.
GridLocate GPS Tracker app is available at the Google Play store: https://bit.ly/emergencygps. An iPhone version will be available in December.