Availability: Apple and Android Market
Price: $2.99/month or $29.99 annual for Individual Plan
$4.99/month or $49.99 annual for Family Plan
30-day free trial of either plan
Company will work with local programs to provide a temporary low cost or free plan (usually for 1- 2 years)
Created By: Rapid SOS, Inc.
Last Reviewed: June 2016 in the test mode version
RapidSOS is an emergency communication application that uses cell towers, Wi-Fi router, biometric data, and Bluetooth to communicate a person’s cell phone location to existing emergency communication systems (911) in a case where help is needed. RapidSOS routes calls to the corresponding 911 operating center the user is closest to. Users have the ability to decide which type of emergency personnel they may need such as law enforcement, fire, and medical; or if there has been a car accident. RapidSOS can send information along with the call, such as the phone number, caller’s name, medical information, and demographic data, depending on what the user chooses to share in setting up the account. It can also share photos and/or videos with the responding personnel. RapidSOS allows users who do not have the ability to speak to still get help through text-to-speech or by sending emergency personnel to the user’s location. Users also have the option to send alerts to contacts they designate in addition to emergency personnel.
What we like:
- This service may help individuals get emergency assistance if they are otherwise in an area where 911 emergency services have challenges in determining the location of a caller using a cell phone.
- Rapid SOS lets users know exactly what permissions they are asking for. They explain to users why they need access to certain permissions such as audio, camera, and SMS.
Safety & Privacy Considerations/ Tips:
- With any type of application, users should be mindful of any unintended consequences or risks that may result from using an app. RapidSOS explains to users that they are able to get their exact location in case of emergency. In order for this exact location to be determined, users must have their Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location services turned on. Having all of these services running constantly can deplete the battery and could raise other privacy or safety concerns if the abusive person was trying to misuse those features to locate the person.
- Another potential concern is the storing of data on servers. RapidSOS collects personally identifying information from users such as medical history, contact information (first and last name and phone number), videos, and pictures. This information is stored on servers with end to end encryption. However, it can be given to law enforcement with an authorized subpoena. Letting users know that this information could be potentially shared with law enforcement is imperative to creating a transparent system with users. Survivors may not feel comfortable with that information being stored in a server that could potentially be accessed by law enforcement.
- Additionally, users should be aware that any personal information they provide to RapidSOS can be accessed shared with emergency personnel. The ability for RapidSOS to store and share some personal information, such as a type of severe allergy that someone would want emergency personnel to know about, can be helpful; however, users should only share information they think is relevant to an emergency and what they would want shared with responding emergency professionals.
- The company offers to provide free or low-cost plans to individuals for a period of time. This is available to survivors who are working with a local program. Rapid SOS will give local programs the ability to connect victims with the product through a designated system. This system will allow Rapid SOS to be able to differentiate between a survivor and regular customer. This information could potentially be harmful for a survivor if Rapid SOS knows that they are victims of violence.
- When tested by our team, the users’ location was not exact, even with all of the required services turned on. It gave a range of where the user was, but could have led to emergency personnel not being able to locate the person depending on the situation and whether more information could have been accessed.
- If the location services of the app are not turned on, the app will prompt the user to turn it on and if not done within 10 seconds, 911 will still be notified but the users’ location may not be accurate. This will let 911 know that there is some type of emergency based off the coordinates that Rapid SOS picks up.