A New Zealand success story, the Get Home Safe (GHS) app, has been launched in Australia.
The free smartphone app, which is the brainchild of Kiwi entrepreneur Boyd Peacock, privately monitors users' location during an activity or task and raises a pre-set alarm if they don't 'Get Home Safe'. After its August launch in New Zealand, GHS attracted worldwide media attention and topped the country's iPhone App download charts hitting the number one spot on its first day of release. The app is simple and easy to use and aimed at people undertaking everyday activities such as children walking home from school alone, women travelling home after a night out and people working unsupervised in remote areas or in the bush. Once downloaded users register with GHS what they intend on doing, such as walking home after dark or going for a bike ride, and the time they will be 'home safe', for example in 15 minutes. GHS then acts as a 'guardian angel' safely recording GPS location data and check-in prompts to privately watch over the user's movements throughout their chosen activity.
If something unforeseen happens and the user doesn't stop or extend tracking as planned, an alarm is raised and the information GHS has safely recorded is sent to the person's pre-selected personal emergency contacts.
As the alarm is sent from the GHS servers not the phone, users don't need a working phone or coverage for the alarm to be raised, making it a vital safety tool if something unforeseen happens. "GHS actually calls for help when you can't, it's truly amazing and could save someone's life," Peacock said. "If you have ever said "I'll call you when I get there" or "I'll let you know I've made it home", then Get Home Safe is for you."
"The App is only part of the Get Home Safe concept. What we have actually created is the automation of checking people are okay. "GHS is capable of checking every Australian child and teenager gets home safely from school this afternoon and even if every Australian partygoer gets home safely tonight," he said. "GHS is capable of checking every Australian driver arrives safely at their destination today. And it can do it all again tomorrow."
Since its launch, GHS has fielded enquiries from several large New Zealand organisations that want to make the use of GHS compulsory for staff undertaking work in remote locations or where there is perceived danger.
"Even the best-made plans can encounter the unforeseen. Regular alarms prompt you to check-in, so if you ever did need help the alarm would be raised far quicker and your last location mapped by our servers," Peacock said. "Who knows you've gone for that run or bike ride? Who knows you're walking home late at night from the pub or bus stop, or that you're driving the back road home this time? "Who knows where your secret fishing spot is? Who knows exactly where you are working this afternoon? Who will know if you don't get home safe?"
The app was developed by Dunedin-based website and design companies Firebrand and Greengage for Mr Peacock's company Get Home Safe Limited. It is free to download fromGoogle Play Store.
Within the App users can choose to buy pre-paid text messages for $0.20 cents, with a minimum purchase of $US1.99 and use the text alert method. Unused text alerts are credited back to users if they check in on time and email alerts are free. Peacock said GHS would also be 'invaluable' to people going out on short trips boating, bush walking, fishing, or cycling. GHS is a compliment to the traditional satellite emergency beacon as "not every emergency or unforeseen event requires activating an expensive official search operation via a beacon."
Users can opt to send their emergency contacts a pre-trip itinerary to allow them to follow the activity in real time or share 'home safe' summaries via email and social media. NZ Mountain Safety Council CEO, Darryl Carpenter, said is impressed with the potential and accessibility of Get Home Safe.
"We are working closely with Get Home Safe to ensure it meets the requirements of becoming an approved outdoors intentions provider," Carpenter said. "GHS will provide a valuable safety service for outdoor enthusiasts and there are clearly possibilities for other activities in everyday life."
The GHS idea was inspired after Mr Peacock read about a boating accident in New Zealand's Foveaux Straight in 2012 when a boat with a group of fishermen onboard sank along with all their mobile phones and emergency equipment.
"I thought to myself, if only someone was monitoring the use and location of a smart phone on board it could have been apparent much earlier that the fishermen had capsized and even where it happened, the alarm could have been raised much earlier," Mr Peacock said.
"GHS sends alarms independently of mobile phone coverage so if the fishermen had set regular half hour alarms with GHS then the alarm would have been raised as soon as they missed their first check-in and their last known location identified," he said. "There have been a number of reported examples lately in Australia where people have been injured in accidents or needed to call for help but haven't been able to.
"Get Home Safe could have provided the perfect alert system in many of these instances, alerting help sooner rather than later."