Journalists hold placards as they participate in a protest march against the rape of a photo journalist by five men inside an abandoned textile, in Mumbai. (Reuters Photo)
Post the Mumbai gang-rape, several reports on how unsafe the city is for women have surfaced. Three women — Chinmayi S K, Ankita Herurkar and Sanik Sahasrabuddhe — have come out with an Android app that looks to instill some level of confidence in them. Called Bachchao (spelt as Bachao on the app), the mobile app can be used to keep trusted friends informed of your location when travelling to a new city or staying out late.
“The happiest moment in our last six months of work has been when a friend contacted us. She had gone to a pub at around 10 pm and was testing the app. She told me that she felt safe because of it. All she had to do was to click a giant red button in the app and I would instantly get her co-ordinates. She was coming back by an auto and sent me her location three times,” says Chinmayi, co-creator.
Upon clicking the red button, the app sends an alarm via SMS to one or more trusted friends. You could also record a video, which can serve as a digital witness when no one else is around. The message that your friends receive includes location information, so that help reaches you as soon as possible. “These SMS sent out can be read even on the most basic phone,” says Chinmayi. The app also provides you with an option to update your family of your location every hour, two hours, six hours or on a daily basis.
The app has been downloaded around 50 times but they also have a set of pre-registered users who have been using it for a while now. She says, “We have it ready for use on Android and are beta testing on BlackBerry. It is also in the development phase for iOS.
* Nirbhaya: This app can send SOS/distress messages with location updates to pre-defined SMS contact groups, Facebook walls and secure websites. It also lets you call emergency helpline numbers.
* Sentinel: Works in multiple scenarios even without triggering an alert manually. A forced power off of the phone, or prolonged signal loss can cause a fail-safe alert. You can call, email or send SMS alerts to multiple pre-configured numbers. The alert consists of your last known location, time and direction of travel.
* GoSuraksheit: Sends an SMS to list of pre-provisioned contacts. This SMS includes a customised message, the details of your current location and a link to the exact location on the map. It updates your Facebook status with the same content as the SMS and sends a call to a pre-provisioned emergency number. It also triggers a loud alarm to seek attention.