Guardian Circle crowdsources safety

Photo Courtesy of Guardian Circle

Photo Courtesy of Guardian Circle

There seems to be an application for everything, and personal safety is no exception.

Guardian Circle is a personal safety app that creates a circle of friends and family that can receive a variety of notifications for different levels of emergencies. The app is meant to circumvent the difficulty of notifying professional first responders and the confusion that ensues when trying to contact multiple emergency contacts individually.

The personal safety network connects friends and family who also register for the app, taking crowdsourcing past the usual information technology and into the realm of personal security and extreme trust.

Users can create different alert levels to be sent to their network, including emergency, urgent, request, or only a test. Personal safety circles can include as many people as users would like to add, and unlimited alerts can be created within the application.

CEO Mark Jeffrey had the preliminary idea for the application  two years ago during a conversation with Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber.

“Travis wanted to expand Uber to moving things around,” Jeffrey said. “Knowing where everyone and everything is, is extremely important.”

Not too long after this conversation, Jeffrey’s girlfriend suffered from what appeared to be a stroke on the floor of her garage.

“She was numb and couldn’t speak, but she would have been able to push a button on her phone,” Jeffrey said. “There was literally help all around her, but no one knew that she was in trouble or where the rest of us were to coordinate a quick response.”

The application is meant to be a sort of electronic scream for help that targets those who are sure to come to the user’s aid. Responders can see where the person with the emergency is, as well as the locations of others in the circle, allowing first responders to coordinate amongst themselves through the application.

Jeffrey developed Guardian Circle to better address the shortcomings of current technology in emergency response systems.

“It’s not enough to push a button to notify an emergency contact; panic buttons don’t address the second half of the problem,” Jeffrey said.

The upside is that users create a specific network of those they trust with their life. The interface is not run through Facebook or other larger social networks, which could add superfluous communication to the chain of response.

“Facebook friends are totally different than emergency contacts,” Jeffrey said. “Guardian Circle is a social network with different criteria for who is connected to who.”

All of the application’s content is free with download, so there are no in-app purchases necessary to access additional features.

Additionally, the creation of a pre-approved personal safety network ensures that these emergency contacts are actually prepared to help in the event of an emergency.

“It’s a bond of extreme trust with a communications grid securing that commitment,” Jeffrey said. “People don’t need to question when you need help and how to help others.”

Other applications send a text message to emergency contacts which includes a link that could be considered spam. Guardian Circle communicates through the application so that each first responder is seeing the same information and is sure that they are needed.

The downside is the lack of integration with existing services, such as Find My Friends. There is also competition with similar applications, such as Watch Over Me, Stay Safe, and On Watch, all of which have similar features to Guardian Circle.

The application does not directly contact professional first responders, such as 9/11 in the event of an emergency. It relies on the user’s personal safety network to do so.

Ultimately, Guardian Circle does its job. It’s interface is functional and its purpose is important. For students at the University of San Diego who may need to walk across campus alone, feel uncomfortable while at a party, or walk on Mission Beach late at night, this application is worth downloading.


Written by: Kelly Kennedy, Feature Editor