10 August 2021

Innovation is allowing citizens to claim back their safety

Submitted by Pearlmar Chauke

In a bid to provide South Africans with convenient and affordable access to private safety and safekeeping, a security guard company is arming citizens with the power to protect themselves by simply shaking or dropping their phone to activate the distress feature.

“Being safe is a basic human right and should be treated as such. However, in the past, only an exceptionally small amount of our population had access to private security services. This is especially true for women who are often subjected to gender-based violence. With the help of the latest technology, previously underutilised private security resources are now available to more communities within South Africa because the journey to making South Africa safe is a long one and this is our way of contributing to our ever-growing society,” says Michael Brown from iFearLESS.

The smartphone bodyguard app, iFearLESS, launched this month across all app stores and was created with women’s safety in mind, provides subscribers access to a multitude of effective and reliable private armed response companies, emergency medical services, legal assistance as well as trauma assistance.  The app alert is activated by simply shaking or dropping your smartphone or by pushing the activation button.

As soon as the app is activated, a 20-second audio/video recording starts and is automatically sent to the cloud for safekeeping, which can later be used to assist in the apprehension and conviction of suspects.

The app is location-driven via the GPS on your smartphone therefore the location accuracy of the originating signal is impeccable. The app uses cutting edge technology, much like ride e-hailing apps, therefore, autonomously connecting the user with the five nearest armed response vehicles. It simultaneously also sends an SMS with the user’s location to their pre-selected emergency contacts to inform them that their loved one is in danger.

The Institute for Security Studies cites approaches to safety and security that use ‘tough on crime’ tactics that make little to no impact on safety. Calls for ‘declaring a war on crime’ and having opinions on ‘zero tolerance for persons in conflict with the law, in fact, often ignore human rights, do not deter crime, and most importantly, do not make people feel ‘safe’.

Statistics gathered by the South African Police Service from January 2020 to March 2021 indicate that robbery at residential premises increased by 7.6%, while carjackings were 4.9% higher on the period under review. But perhaps the most daunting figures are those of murder and attempted murder clocking in at 8.4% and 8.7% respectfully. There were also 9518 incidents of reported rape during the same period.

“Unfortunately, as the recent outbursts of violence that broke out in KwaZulu and Gauteng indicated, citizens cannot always solemnly rely on the police to come to their aid when their lives or property are at risk. And in light of the large numbers of violent incidents against women, citizens also need to equip themselves with something more personal and reliable. This is the gap security companies such as iFearLESS are bridging using innovation to equip residents with the immediate power to protect themselves and take back their safety,” concludes Brown.

Described as a Public Relations (PR) guru by her peers, Madelain Roscher is the Managing Director of PR Worx, a full-service marketing-communications agency, which she established in 2001. With 22 years’ in-depth industry experience based on an impressive consulting and corporate career, the firm has achieved remarkable successes under her leadership. ​ Notably, PR Worx is the highest awarded public relations firm in Africa having been honoured as the best in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, South Africa and Africa awards for nine consecutive years. Madelain also won the 2019 Africa Women Leader Award by the World Women Leadership Congress and Awards, 2017 Woman of the Year: Media category; the Most Influential Women in Business award; was recognised as the Most Admired PR Professional in South Africa; and was the first person to receive the Public Relations Institute of SA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. ​ Her knowledge of the sector and developing commercial strategies that are impactful and that generate a maximum measurable return on investment for her clients, are some of her strongest service offerings. Her responsibilities include strategic business development for her own firm and that of PR Worx’s blue-chip client portfolio. ​ Prior to starting up PR Worx, Madelain was head of South African Airways’ worldwide corporate communications function and the airline’s global spokesperson for a period of six years. During this time, she was one of two employees that was selected from 25,000 airline staff to represent South Africa in Switzerland as part of an aviation MBA programme.