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Cellphones Communications Government Hardware

Putting a Panic Button In Smartphone Users' Hands 175

Posted by timothy
from the menu-options-have-recently-changed dept.
theodp writes "If you own an Android phone, you may have inadvertently butt-dialed 911 from time-to-time. So, wonders Kix Panganiban, why don't our phones come with a universal 'Panic Button', that would make it just as easy to intentionally dial the police when it's truly needed? Panganiban envisions "a smartphone app that when triggered, would discreetly send out a distress message to contacts of your choice, and perhaps do some other functions that can get you out of bad (and maybe even life-threatening) situations." While a quick search reveals that some have taken a crack at apps that put a Panic Button in smartphone users' hands, are there good reasons why such a feature isn't just standard on mobile devices? And, with GPS and always-watching and always-listening tech only becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous, how far out in the future is it before your person can be continuously remotely monitored like your residence, even while mobile, and what might that look like?"
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Putting a Panic Button In Smartphone Users' Hands

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  • Liability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenJeremy (181303) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:39AM (#45753751)

    Who wants to be the first developer to get sued when your program doesn't dial 911 (perhaps because there is no signal)? Who wants to be the first developer sued because it got the location wrong?

    Way too much liability potential. IT is too important a thing to mess up, and you can bet that something will mess up eventually, and the developer will be blamed, regardless of whether or not they are actually responsible.

  • Re:The problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erikkemperman (252014) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:58AM (#45753879)

    The company I work at wanted to do something like this for, eg epilepsy patients. Triggered by accelerometers, would automagically try to contact from a preselected list of friends/relatives, using location tracking to find the nearest ones first. Would start to make loud noises and flash instructions on screen for passers by on how they might help. Escalate to real emergency services if need be. Pretty good idea, but we somehow never hot around to building it.

    Of course there was potential for false alarms by dropping the device, but in that case it would be no problem for the patient to deactivate it.

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