When I heard about the SafeKidZone service from MobileTREC, I understood it as a mobile phone “panic button” for kids.
Here’s a great video about the panic button:
I thought it was a fantastic idea, but with my oldest child at just 6 1/2, and always by my side (except when at school) I thought I was years away from needing the service. Not only was I wrong about that, but I learned that the panic button is maybe 10% of this service. As valuable as it is, it’s just a drop in the bucket, and there are far more features to the service.
Here’s a short video that introduces the concept:
My husband and I grew up in the days where we’d go outside on a summer morning, and you wouldn’t see us again until we were called in for dinner time, dirty and tired! We both grew up less than 10 minutes from where we live now…small town life, where nothing bad happens. There were no cell phones, so we’d have practices or games after school, and we’d have to find a quarter and line up at the pay phone to call for a ride. (We’d also have to hope someone was home and that the phone wasn’t busy, LOL!)
Cell phones have become such a way of life that I can’t imagine my kids being on their own like that, without having a way to contact me anywhere, anytime, no matter where they are, or where I am. My daughter is already asking when she can have her own cell phone, and my hubby and I already agreed that we would get her a basic phone when she got to the point that she was going to a friend’s house or activity alone, or when we finally find a babysitter (since we don’t have a home phone.)
So, enter SafeKidZone. I thought of it as a “panic button.” Your child can hold down a designated button, and it automatically alerts the safety network via email and text (could be you, your spouse, grandparents, a neighbor, or any or all!), then initiates a conference call with the 24/7 call center. Your child can do this anytime they feel unsafe. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an emergency in the 911 sense. If they are walking alone, home alone, feel threatened, have any kind of accident or medical emergency (I think every child with a food allergy must have this service!!), attempted assault or kidnapping, or just feel scared for any reason. They activate the safety network and the call center stays on the line until the situation is resolved.
When connected to the call center, your child’s location is determined with GPS technology and the threat level is determined based on danger zones and a crime data/sex offender map. Your child’s Emergency Safety Profile is made available to the safety network and 911 responders, and includes their location and one hour location history, medical concerns, blood type and other vital statistics (age, height, eye color etc.) as well as a current photo. The call is captured by audio recording (video recording is in beta testing) which could prove to be absolutely invaluable in finding your child in the worst case scenario. Pregnancy hormones are making me get upset/teary eyed even thinking about it, but it’s the truth.
If the situation is truly an emergency, the call center instantly connects to the police, fire department/ambulance and since your child’s location has already been determined, there is zero wasted time in trying to connect to the correct police department or trying to figure out where they can find your child. Every minute counts. Cell phone triangulation can help find the nearest pizza place, but when your child is in danger, you want to know exactly where they are.
You know the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child?” Well, you can have your whole “village” looking out for your child. With the safe neighbors program, you can alert others that you trust and they can come to the aid of your child if they are able to get there faster. You can also work together to identify “danger zones” in your area. In fact, you can create an online neighborhood watch where anyone in your community can discuss, rate, share, and comment on safe or dangerous locations in your city and neighborhood. SafeKidZone has already been tested as a school-wide safety program, and I want it in my daughter’s school! In fact, I want to get involved with the PTA and see if we can get as many families enrolled as possible, to keep our kids safe.
Here’s a great video about the “threat level” and “danger zone” features:
Hopefully now you understand why your child needs this service, but remember I said I realized that I need it now? Well, I had been doing some thinking about the fact that the things that “don’t happen here” are now happening here. I live in a small town with a gas station, drug store and (cruddy, overpriced) grocery store, but if we want to do anything/go anywhere, we have to drive 20-30 minutes. I’ve been so shaken by the daily happenings there, that I drive a few extra minutes in the opposite direction to shop in the next county over. It’s definitely not perfect, but I don’t feel as panicky and unsafe there.
Naturally, that’s not always an option. I have to take the kids to the doctor, take my daughter to gymnastics, go to birthday parties, go to stores that are only here etc. I always feel like a perfect target since I’m distracted by making sure my kids are safe in parking lots, dragging bags, toys, shopping carts and my purse, changing a diaper, buckling the kids in etc. What would I do if someone approached me? I’ve read articles about how women are often victims because they ignore the “little voice” in their head screaming “DANGER!” because they don’t want to appear rude. If I had SafeKidZone service (or the “grown up” version, SafeTREC) I would be an inconspicuous button push away from help.
Here are some situations I’ve been in that demonstrate why I need this service:
- I’ve had a lot of car trouble over the years, and last year I was getting stranded so often that we ended up purchasing AAA service (TOTALLY worth it BTW.) We (and by that I mean my hubby) did end up figuring out the issue was a technical service bulletin for a $140 wiring harness that was causing trouble with the theft system. Unfortunately, that was after a few thousand dollars in repairs and three AAA rescues. One of those “rescues” happened after my daughter’s gymnastics class. The gym is in a big metal building in an industrial area that’s largely abandoned after business hours. The car wouldn’t start, it was dark, people had left and my kids were tired, hungry and wanted to go home. As dumb as I felt, I started to get scared. This stuff always seemed to happen when my husband was out of town too. I was extremely grateful for AAA because the rep seemed to gather that I was upset (I seriously hope I’m not the first person to cry on the phone with them!) and she got them out as fast as possible. Still, I was sitting in the car, alone with my kids and I was nervous. If I had SafeKidZone, I could have connected with the call center while I was waiting, had someone to keep me calm, locate us using GPS, tell me our threat level and “wait with me” until AAA arrived. If at any time the situation became an emergency, they could have been on the phone with police in seconds.
- Last year I had a situation where I was face to face with someone at a 2-way stop leaving the grocery store. We did the hesitating is he going? Am I going? You go? I go? I eventually made the decision to make my left turn to go to the traffic light at the same time that he decided to go straight. Stuff like that happens, right? It wasn’t intentional, no accident happened, no harm no foul. But I guess it really ticked him off because he made a tire squealing 270 degree turn and screeched to a stop in the middle of the lane beside me, screaming and shaking his fist. I have never willed a light to turn green the way I did that day (not even when I was in labor & on the way to the hospital!!) Thank goodness, there was too much traffic for him to follow me, but I was panicked. Maryland has a no hand held cell phone law, but I could have pushed the button on my phone and been on a hands-free conference call with customer service, been GPS located and had police on the way (and advising me what to do, where to go/stop) had the guy managed to follow me.
- I’ve been thinking about tons of other situations where the service would have benefited me and another was just a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, I crave a Slurpee every time I’m pregnant, but I’ve been hesitating since all the 7-11 stores aren’t exactly in a good area, and I’m pretty sure that just about every one has been robbed recently. A few weeks ago my daughter, son and I were leaving a birthday party and we were all thirsty, so I decided to stop. As judgemental as it sounds, it makes me nervous when there are questionable looking people hanging in the parking lot, windows down and blasting music that makes even me feel old (and makes my teeth vibrate.) I didn’t need a danger zone map to know that this area is so often in the paper for assaults, rapes, shootings and stabbings. Interestingly enough, the house my in-laws built about 35 years ago (and sold when my hubby & brother-in-law were little) is literally within spitting distance behind this 7-11, and back then she’d load them in the wagon and walk to go get ice cream. It was totally different then! Anyhoo, I’m getting my kids out of the car and trying to figure out whether it was this 7-11, or the one at the East end of the road that had already been robbed and I actually snapped at my daughter to hurry up and get out of the car! We made it in and out of the store, but SKZ would have made me feel safer.
- We waited for 6 months to get an appointment for my son with the area’s top pediatric allergist at John’s Hopkins in Baltimore. Of course it ended up being when my husband was on a business trip, so I had to take the kids myself. If you’ve ever been to Hopkins, you know that you have to drive through an area that almost looks like a scene out of a movie, with every other row house not just boarded up, but with windows and doors bricked over or filled in with concrete. You can peer out of the corner of your eye and witness drug deals and, *ahem* “working women.” Thank goodness, I made it there (this was after we got AAA but before we fixed the car) and into the building (have I mentioned how much I dislike parking garages too?)
These are 4 situations just in the past year that SafeKidZone would have benefited me. What would a Mom do if she were in a parking lot, struggling with grocery bags and kids, and a carjacker approached her? What if she saw someone questionable/creepy at the park?
We live about an hour/hour and a half away from Baltimore, D.C. and Northern Virginia, where there are tons of awesome things to do with kids. I don’t really like to drive down there without my hubby, but when I think about it, SafeKidZone could do a lot more to protect us than he could (sorry hubby!!) Your safety network can also assist you in the event of a natural disaster!
I am now signed up for the service and have had the chance to browse around and set up my safety profile. This information would assist 911 in case of an emergency. I was able to add my due date, blood type, height, hair color and so forth. Seeing as how I’m 28+ weeks pregnant, I elected to skip the weight field, heh. I had hoped to show you the app itself, but the iPhone app isn’t quite ready yet, so I will use my speed dial to activate my “panic button” for now. Remember earlier I mentioned that the calls were recorded? Well, you can actually listen to the audio right from your account online!
Also cool is the ability to set up a code you use to escalate a call to 911. So if you were in a dangerous situation (or your child was) you could say something like “do we need milk?” and they would know the call needed to be escalated. You can also set up an “all clear” resolution pass code to let the operator know you’re no longer in danger.
You can elect to “be a neighbor” or “alert a neighbor” so that if someone within 1km of you uses their panic button, you can be notified (and vice versa.) You can even connect your SKZ account to your Twitter account to tweet if you need help. You also decide who in your safety network sees what, including your location history, which could be pretty useful to keep tabs on your kids! It’s really easy to add safe and danger zones to your account, and you can set up alerts to notify people in your safety network when they are nearing those areas. As more people in my area have the service, I will be able to browse through a database of safe and danger zones, and add them.
The service will work on any cell phone, though an internet capable/smart phone allows you to take full advantage of the features like the GPS location and threat levels. The full-feature plan is $9.95/month and they will have family plan pricing very soon.
Protect your family now by signing up for the full feature plan which includes the full featured panic button, live conference call, safety network, 24/7 response center, direct 911 access, advanced GPS location/mapping, emergency safety profile and text & email alerts. Simply enter promotional code CD625 and sign up now to protect yourself and your family.
Or, use promo code CD625 to sign up for the free, limited plan!
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