In the wake of the terrorist kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week, a local firm is updating an existing smartphone app to allow users to instantly alert local security hotlines that they are in distress, without having to place a call.
“It can immensely shorten response time,” said Gershon Mesika, who heads the Samaria Regional Council and made the initial recommendation on Sunday, according to Israel’s Channel 2.
Mesika asked the coders behind an existing emergency alert app that many local residents have already installed, to tweak the software and push out an update that would allow users to inform security services with a single click that they have been abducted.
The Android and iPhone versions of the Samaria Regional Council app currently includes preset SMS text messages for various security and first-responder services.
After the abduction, one of the youths managed to make a brief call to police dispatchers, whispering “I’ve been kidnapped, I’ve been kidnapped,” before his phone went dead.
The update will allow the user to press one button on the homescreen that will summon army and other emergency services via the council’s security ops dispatcher.
The software can also be set to automatically turn on the GPS signal function, and continue broadcasting the user’s location without further action, enabling rescuers to better track down the abductee, the report said.
“The app’s in development by the firm that we contacted because of the [kidnapping], and we hope that in about a week we’ll be able to tell residents that it’s in operation,” said regional civilian security chief, Yonatan Simchi.
“The problematic situation” of having to quickly place a call during a security event, “was already known before the kidnappings, and the event only spurred us on to develop it more quickly.”
The icon will have a two-press process, in order to minimize mistakenly sent alerts, Simchi said, and added that anyone, and not only local residents, would be able to download and install the app.