By Haje Jen Kamps for techcrunch.com
In situations where you aren’t worried enough to call the police, but where you do want to reach out to a friend and say “something’s not right here,” freshly launched Guardian Circle has your back.
The idea is simple: You add your friends and local contacts to an alert list on the app. If something happens and you need a pair of helping hands, you can send an alert with varying degrees of urgency. The alerts range from a “request” (say, you’re at home recuperating from a broken leg and you need one of your friends to pick up some chicken soup), right up to “emergency,” where you think you may have had something slipped into your drink, or you’re worried someone might be following you.
The clever innovation Guardian Circle brings is that every alert creates an “alert room,” so your friends and family can coordinate their efforts to ensure that whoever is best positioned to do so can attend to the alert.
The company suggests its app might be particularly helpful in situations where you need a bit of help from whoever is free and nearby. For example, if you’re stuck at work and your kid needs a ride home from school, or you’re on a date where you feel that something just a little bit odd is going on, and you worry it might escalate to a situation you’re not happy with.
The app is free to download and use, but it’s possible to upgrade to a “gold” plan for $99 per year, which will include “alert room operators” for emergencies. In other words, an operator jumps into the conversation and can help call emergency services on your behalf.
The app may be particularly helpful to parents who are installing the app for their children; “requests” such as needing a ride, or a quick way of alerting parents when something scary or worrisome happens could be good use-cases for the app, and a reason to upgrade to the gold plan. It’s easy to imagine how those who care for vulnerable adults or people could use the app to help distribute the burden of care, and people who suffer from behavioral challenges such as dissociative episodes would benefit from being able to alert their friends and loved ones to what is going on.
The current version is iOS-only, with an Android version to follow “by the end of March.”
The article first appeared in Techcrunch.com