Why "Panic Button APPS" Alone Aren't Enough
We would like to clarify something first and foremost. The 4S Project was developed by a group of parents, educators, law enforcement professionals, and community members across the nation who just like you are dedicated to keeping our public places as safe as possible while respecting the personal privacy and constitutional rights of everyone. WE ARE NOT against the use of panic button APPs. They certainly have a valid purpose. But, allow us to explain why we feel they should NEVER be used and expected to serve as the only solution for preventing tragic situations.
"According to the Department of Homeland Security, the average response time to an active shooter incident is 18 minutes, while the average active shooter event lasts less than 13 minutes."
The problem is too large for a single solution. We must employ every option and tool available to address these threats. Furthermore, we should be forming partnerships with all solutions and working together to keep our children and loved ones safe. Each solution brings specific strengths and weaknesses, but, if we work together we can make a positive impact on public safety. The 4S Project welcomes and invites productive partnerships with other solutions and are committed to working cooperatively by making our data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and communication APIs available to any solution that compliments the common goal of keeping our communities safe.
That said, there are inherent problems with APPs the average user may not be aware of. An APP must be constantly updated to be used and in general are extremely device specific. The APP stores do an amazing job in assuring APPs comply with current standards by requiring APP developers to apply regular updates. Each time an APP is updated, the version on your device must be updated. That means, YOU (the user) must always make sure your device has been updated to the latest version of the APP. In a threatening situation, you would have literally SECONDS to report an active shooter event. Imagine if you found yourself needing to report a threat, only to find you had not upgraded your APP and it has been disabled by your device. Your "panic button" APP is now useless.
Consider also, if just 11 other people at the same place use the same APP to report the same incident, but each with a slightly different view of the threat. The result is 12 completely separate reports, each with different observations and descriptions of the issue. Now, imagine how confusing that situation can be for law enforcement and first responders, and how much that confusion WILL extend the amount of time needed for them to compile their safety plan and begin responding to the threat?! To put it into the perspective of a responding law enforcement officer, imagine if you were at work and had 12 different bosses standing behind you telling you to do something 12 different ways and you only have 13 minutes to get it done. How effective would you be? Yet, this very level of confusion is what may be forced on our law enforcement officers and first responders.
Next, your personal security. While Good Samaritan laws protect you against legal action for reporting a potential crime in good faith, you must understand that APPs (being installed on your device itself) could potentially be used to track you, your usage and other information about you. The marketing companies do this every day by subscribing to services that gather and sell them your personal information. Most of that information derives from your device usage, what area codes you call most, what websites you visit, what products you buy, what APPs you use, etc... In all fariness, this technology isn't necessarily a purposeful design by the APP developer. Basic tracking technology is built-in to your phone and application platforms, and can be easily used for nefarious purposes by someone who has access to it. To demonstrate this, consider your device GPS. One of the first things an APP may do is to request "access to your location". Once you grant the APP that access, the APP can then track you wherever you go. It knows what addresses you visit, what stores you frequent and anything about your mobility even to levels you may not realize including how fast you drive, your direction of travel and even the above-sea-level elevation of your device (Learn More). Yes, you can elect to deny the APP access to these functions, but, then you defeat the purpose of the APP! To use the APP effectively, you are forced to compromise your own personal privacy.
There are no free lunches when it comes to mobile APPs. Developing and managing mobile APPs is a costly endeavor. It requires lots of money to develop and maintain an APP. If that APP is free to you, you can bet your last dollar the offering company is funding the continued maintenance and development on the back-end somewhere. Most commonly, they are selling device usage and demographic information or providing advertisement banners which they sell to merchants in your area through advertising networks. When an ad appears inside your APP, you can bet the APP is selling information about you and/or your usage to someone. We don't do that. Although our basic service is free, we compensate for the ongoing costs of maintenance and upgrades by selling OPTIONAL fairly priced add-on services which you may find useful. In most cases, your local school or community organization pays a very small monthly fee (usually around $49 p/month) to provide our service as a courtesy to their local community. We are always up-front and clear about how WE fund our community service.
Lastly, and most importantly, APPs of this nature are REACTIVE. Someone has likely already been injured or tragically killed by the time you open your APP. While it is important to get immediate medical attention for the victims, it is much too late to prevent the incident from happening in the first place. That is where our PRO-ACTIVE approach is different and when used in conjunction with other solutions such as panic button applications is proving to offer the absolute best and most effective protection for you and your community.
All of the tools needed to communicate with your neighborhood is in one easy to access Portal. Best of all, there are no required APPs to install or keep current. Everything you need is in one simple place to:
Instantly send SMS text alerts to your subscribed neighbors for suspicious behaviors or important neighborhood information.
See all registered sex offenders in your neighborhood and receive SMS text alerts when new offenders are detected in your area.
Report suspicious activity and potential threats to subscribed law enforcement agencies, schools, churches and businesses. You can even remain completely anonymous if you choose.
In many cases, local law enforcement agencies offer rewards for information leading the resolution of a crime.
Keep alerts and communications local.
Need to alert your neighbors to that suspicious looking car that keeps circling the block late at night?
4S Community automatically limits alerts and information to only neighbors within your pre-defined geographical area. You can even optionally automatically send a copy of the alert to locally subscribed law enforcement agencies, schools and businesses in one single action.
Easy community interaction.
Because all alerts are SMS based, they arrive directly on your phone like any other text message you send eliminating the need to start 3rd party APPs. Every SMS text alert contains a special short link that allows any recipient to add notes to, or forward, the message to his or her community.
Community alerts can be automatically routed to locally subscribed law enforcement agencies, schools, churches and even commercial companies. With a single click of a button, you can easily alert everyone affected.
Noble, Oklahoma USA
+1 (833) 776-8363