App aims to increase safety for B.C. women at risk from domestic violence

SOS Response app.
SOS Response app. SOS Response

A new app aims to help women at risk from domestic violence by working as a 24/7 mobile, monitored alarm system.

Called ‘SOS Response’, the makers of the app are working with the Ending Violence Association of BC and TELUS, as part of a pilot project to run in five communities around the province. In those communities,  assistance programs have identified women designated to be at high risk for domestic violence, and those women will be given a smart phone with the app for six months.

The five communities are Prince George, Terrace, Vernon, Courtenay, and Surrey.

“It’s a simple tool to run,” said Sam Ciacco, vice-president, SOS Response. “It’s a two button display, one with sound, one without sound.”

The app starts working when someone presses the button, needing assistance. The app then takes 30 photos in 30 seconds, sending those photos to the security monitoring centre, along with the GPS location and any information about the user that they have entered in the set-up process. “We then have information about who they are and where they are,” said Ciacco.

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“We then give emergency services the info they need to help the person.”

The photos do not stay on the phone, so even if the phone is destroyed, the photos can still be used.

The goal of the pilot project is to make high risk women feel more at ease.

“We have women in the province of B.C. who are at high risk, or who suffer from violence,” said Superintendent Paul Richards, RCMP E Division. “We’re putting an app into the hands of people who are significantly at risk.”

“For police officers, it captures in that mobile way, information about people. Very often we’re talking about critical minutes.”

The Ending Violence Association of BC works with communities across the province to end violence against women and children, supporting more than 240 programs who respond to sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and stalking.

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