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Panic Button Buddy

The "panic button buddy" would be a carry-able device, similar to an electronic car key, which would attract attention by emitting a loud alarm and sending GPS info to a community base and/or local authority. Once while driving in San Francisco, I came upon a very loud angry fight where a man was yelling at a woman, and seemed to have violent intent. While I could not stop the fight, I did pull up to the incident, and get out of my car and stayed there until the woman could get in her car. Just by "bearing witness" I was able to help the other woman, because the man clearly didn't want anyone to see his behavior. I noted in the research that women feel more secure with the presence of other women and that there is safety in numbers.

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Inspired by the alarms on car keychains, a low cost portable device that when activated would: Transmit a very loud alarm, send the users GPS coordinates/name/and emergency contact to a receiver base - a device that receives the info presumably by a local authority or community base. Designed to be carried by women in urban areas, purposely low-tech to be accessible and low cost so it would not be a target for theft. 

System requires community participation and has three components.

Devices would be distributed to group of women. They would be encoded with the woman's identity, name, and emergency contact info. These could be carried at all times, and activated if under threat.

Local authority and/or a community base would have a receiver that alerts when a panic button has been activated.

The panic button device also works as part of the system and receives notification if another device has been activated. With the encoded information. A phone tree could be activated - calls to local authority to ensure they incident has been responded too, and follow up with emergency contact so woman's safety can be verified. 

Additionally the system could be built upon and so that low cost receiver-only devices could be distributed to family members and include them in the network. 
Certainly a work in progress idea, and I look forward to other contributions.


Explain your idea in one sentence.

Inspired by the alarms on car keychains, a low cost portable device that when activated would: Transmit a very loud sounds, send the users GPS coordinates/name/and emergency contact to a community base or local authority.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

The question is, would the knowledge that other people are aware of an attack help be a deterrent? In some at risk areas the local authorities are not always reliable. This system would address that by creating dozens of witnesses to an incident. Also because it is equipped with a loud alarm, it would attract attention/help at the site of the incident. As an example of what kind of incidents could be addressed this piece by "This American Life" tells a poignant story of an issue in Juarez Mexico where women have been attacked on bus lines, by the drivers.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

Any communities where women art "at risk" In particular communities where women don't feel safe, or that crimes against them aren't being address. Targeted more for areas where cel phones are not readily available due to cost and infrastruture.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

A global organisation with outreach to women, in particular with an agenda to address violence against women

Where should this idea be implemented?

It could be tried in a local community anywhere, for example East Palo Alto. Mexico also has many communities that would be a good test because of the increasing crime rate, and isolated areas.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

A prototype group could be created with a cel phone/app that works as alarm and sends data. Perhaps find participants at a local college.


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I've been working with a group on this challenge and we came up with the same idea. We also explored panic buttons on subway cars and street lamps.

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