BUSINESS: New app offers safety in numbers

RIDE SAFE | Cyclists in the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS each year peddle through some pretty isolated stretches of road. This year, MobileTREC is equipping each rider with the SafeTREC application and service to give them an added layer of security on the road. MobileTREC is also donating $1 from every SafeTREC subscription to Lone Star Ride. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

SafeTREC service now partnering with Lone Star Ride; adds a layer of security to life, company officials say

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

We all know what happens when you find yourself in an emergency situation at your home, and you pick up your landline to call 9-11 for help: The 9-11 operators can use their system to determine your exact location and send help, even if you aren’t able to tell them where you are.

But what happens if you, like many people these days, use your cell phone as your home phone instead of having a landline? What happens if you are in your car, or perhaps walking or cycling?

Those locations can’t be wired into the 9-11 system, and the best emergency operators can do is triangulate your location to within a three-, six- or nine-mile radius, depending on the circumstances. And when minutes count, that might not be good enough.

That’s the problem that the people at MobileTREC were trying to solve when they came up with their SafeTREC and SafeKidZone applications for smart phones, according to Martin Lobe, MobileTREC’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Users download the MobileTREC app they want to their smart phone and then pay a $9.95 per month subscription fee to use the service. Lobe said the company is also working to finalize a family plan for $19.95 a month that he hopes will be available within the next month.

To use the service, he explained, users designate a specific button on their phone as the “panic button,” and in case of emergency, they push that button and the MobileTREC operators contact the appropriate responders. And the MobileTREC apps marry with the phone’s GPS signal to send responders to the user’s exact location, Lobe said.

Lobe said the applications and MobileTREC’s subscription services can give users an added layer of security and some options that you don’t get with 9-11.

With the SafeKidZone app, children can punch the panic button and that activates a whole community of responders — friends and family as well as police and fire — to come to their aid.

Lobe explained that users establish a network of contacts among family and friends, and if a child needs help, the SafeKidZone program sends an immediate text and email to the established “safety network” as well as to the company’s 24-hour Response Call Center. Then the child, the “safety network” members and the Call Center are linked through a live conference call.

That lets everyone know what the child’s situation is, allowing the closest family member or friend to respond immediately or if necessary, the Call Center personnel will notify 9-11 to send police or fire, giving them the child’s exact location.

SafeTREC is the same sort of application and service, only geared for adults, such as college students, senior citizens, business travelers or those on vacation.

“Think about someone, an adult, who may have some sort of disability or illness, and they fall in their home and can’t get up. They don’t need medical attention, but if 9-11 sends an ambulance, they have to pay for that. With SafeTREC, they push the panic button and the system sends someone in their safety network over to help them up,” Lobe said.

“I have gay friends, and when I started looking into it, doing some research, I realized just how often gay bashings are happening, and how sometimes gay people are not getting the proper protection from police in some instances. And I knew that our service is something that could be very, very helpful to gay people,” Lobe said. “We want to let the LGBT community know that this is available, that they are not alone.”

The service is also perfect, Lobe said, for sports enthusiasts — like cyclists or runners — who might find themselves out on the road and suddenly in need of help. And that, he added, makes a partnership between MobileTREC and Lone Star Ride Fightings AIDS a perfect match.

MobileTREC CEO Don Ferguson explained that his company will be equipping every Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS rider with the SafeTREC service, and will also donate $1 from every subscription to LSRFA.

The two-day Lone Star Ride, scheduled this year for Sept. 24-25, raises money for three AIDS service organizations — AIDS Services of Dallas, AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County and Resource Center Dallas.

“I can see the Lone Star Ride is a worthwhile event where people are getting together to help others, and I am excited for SafeTREC to become a part of it,” Ferguson said.

And helping people help each other, he added, is one of the goals of the company.

“Our system is designed not only to protect people when they are in danger but also to build a safety network so people are automatically looking out for each other,” Ferguson said. “Man is not an island. We survive better together, and that is what we are doing at SafeTREC. We are creating a community of people looking out for each other.”

For more information, go online to MobileTREC.com

—  John Wright