GPS cellphone panic button

August 2015 Editor's Choice, Security Services & Risk Management, Products

Two Durban-based businesses have launched Genie ICE, South Africa’s first GPS cellphone panic button which is fully integrated into an alarm monitoring platform – essentially a geolocation enabled emergency notification system which acts as an extension of one’s home alarm system.

The Genie ICE is free to download to any mobile phone or tablet. It works with either GPS (Global Positioning System) or LBS (Location Based Services), and in just two taps will send an alert message to Enforce’s control room, where operators will assess the nature of the emergency and then dispatch the appropriate response to exactly where it is needed.

It is basically like taking your home alarm panic button with you whenever you leave home.

The brains behind the technology – Enforce Security and ICE Plus – have mastered the development of Genie ICE to ensure its stability and seamless integration into the Enforce emergency call centre.

The app can best be explained as a three-tiered emergency response system:

1. When the panic signal goes through to the Enforce control room, all of the client’s details are presented to the operator, so Enforce knows who they are.

2. The GPS component then presents the operator with the client’s exact location on Google Maps, so Enforce knows where they are.

3. Then between Enforce’s own operational resources and its database of third-party service providers as well as SAPS and other emergency service agencies, they can dispatch a wide range of services to provide emergency assistance.

More advanced panic

Mobile panic technology is not an entirely new concept for either Enforce or ICE Plus, but the Genie ICE has taken previous technological capabilities to a more advanced level, ensuring GPS accuracy and immediate emergency response. Furthermore, it is available to anyone, regardless of which security company their home alarm system is contracted to.

Enforce director Gary Tintinger said the company has a long history with mobile panic systems, with speed-dial-type emergency capabilities first commissioned by it about 15 years ago. But with the advancement of technology and the increased use and accessibility of smartphones, this system needed to be upgraded to a global positioning system.

Enforce has a long history working with the ICE Plus team, and this, combined with the fact that they are both local companies and committed to this project, was the reason the two partnered on the Genie ICE app.

“It was not just about developing the app itself, but about doing so from the ground up, ensuring that it was customised for every type of phone or tablet. And ICE Plus was willing to do that,” Tintinger said.

Loet de Swart, CEO of Always Active Technologies – the company behind the ICE Plus technology, said, “This, combined with their extensive industry experience, ensures that Enforce would be able to bring ICE Plus to the market and help us fundamentally change the status quo in the security industry. Enforce is also able to do what we never could on our own and that is grow a technology product into a real world solution that is perfectly positioned for the security industry in South Africa.”

Direct integration

Although there are many apps on the market which one can use to notify friends and family if they are in need of emergency care, de Swart said this was the only app that integrated into the control room of an armed response security company. This allowed it to act as either a standalone alarm or an extension of a user’s existing home alarm system.

“The primary difference between those apps and this is the direct integration into existing monitoring systems which, in simple terms, means that when you activate your Genie ICE service your panic is displayed and managed immediately by the Enforce emergency call centre. There is also the custom white labelling or branding for the Enforce Genie ICE product giving the customer the Enforce brand experience.

“Genie ICE can also be used on any cellphone, not just ‘smartphones’, and extensive effort that has gone into making the service as simple and seamless to use as possible so as to accommodate users of all abilities. An example of this is the actual sign-up which we have made available through a Web page on your phone’s browser although it is also available over USSD should your phone not support Web browsing.”

Further development in the pipeline

Although the app has just been launched, both companies are already looking at ways to make it even more cutting edge, although they will be holding off on any new development or major additions for now. Tintinger said the focus was currently on ensuring the app was stable and relevant as opposed to continually adding new capabilities.

“We may perhaps look at integrating things like first aid advice for medical emergencies, and will be keeping on top of technological advancements and changes in security needs, but for now, having a robust, stable system is key,” he said.

Making the decision to offer the Genie ICE to all residents throughout the country, regardless of whether they were contracted to Enforce, was critical, Tintinger said, as the technology was a vital layer of backup security. And because security was for everyone, all role players needed to work together.

“Genie ICE is managed separately from all our other services, so there is no conflict of interest for a client of another security company to sign up for it.”

Registration, download, and installation of the Genie ICE app takes about a minute and can be done directly from your mobile phone by going to http://m.scircl.es/enforce, or by dialling the USSD service at *120*25378*3636723#. For the dialling option, please note that network fees of 20 cents per 20 seconds apply.


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