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Houstonian co-creates emergency app for smart phones

Friday, May 18, 2012

In an emergency, seconds count. And your smart phone could be critical for you when it comes to your own personal security.

Now, there's an app you can download that can help you if you are caught in a dangerous situation. A Houston man helped design it.

Some of us at one time or another may have had that moment where we felt like our personal safety might be in jeopardy.

"I get nervous when I'm walking around campus by myself, like coming back from the library late at night," student Erin Thigpen said.

That's where the "miokay" security app comes in. It was created by three SMU college students, including Houston native Mark Gelbart, who recently graduated.

"Today when we have the technology to utilize, I don't see why not, why shouldn't you have something like this on your phone," he said.

Here's how it works: first you program five contacts into the app for when you're in danger, fearful of a situation or feel threatened. An email, text message and an automatic phone call with your exact location is then sent to your first contact.

As a parent, Lisa Garcia says this app is ideal.

"You have a lot of kids nowadays that have cell phones and this would be a good opportunity for me as a parent to be able to know exactly where my child is in case my child is in danger," she said.

The app can be especially helpful to women who want to get out of an abusive relationship. It can even be part of their safety plan.

"What we tell women is to have a code word with a friend. This could be your code word. If you push this, you know they need help," said Amy Smith with the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.

While it might seem easier to just dial 911 and save the $1.99 it costs for the app, Gelbart defends his product.

"Whenever you call 911 or a person, it takes time. These are critical moments we usually don't think about," Gelbart said.

And in an emergency, every second counts.

Gelbart says he hopes to integrate miokay's security app into social media like Facebook and Twitter.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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