A new app developed by KOJO, a digital engagement specialist, to protect children when they are out and about went live on 26th October in honour of a murdered teenager, with the backing of Google and the Government of South Australia.
KOJO said that the new app –Thread for the Carly Ryan Foundation- is a unique blend of personal safety technologies into one easy-to-use platform. The Foundation was created by Sonya Ryan whose daughter, Carly, was murdered after being groomed by an internet predator for more than 18 months.
In stressful situations, where only one action can be taken, Thread provides an immediate connection between a user’s location, trusted contacts and emergency services. The app uses cloud based platforms for their functionality, scalability, reliability and security credentials.
Stephen Lord, chief strategy officer at KOJO, said: “There are personal safety apps that are simply alarms on the market and there are also general social apps to publicly tell people where you are.
“However, until now, no one has combined them in a way where the sole purpose is to keep the lines of communication open between the user and a close group of nominated contacts, to keep both parties updated on location and status.
“It was especially important with this app that all the functions worked flawlessly, due to the fact that individuals’ personal safety is on the line.”
Thread promotes communication for the tech-savvy youth of today without enforcing traditional prohibitive rules. For example, a teenager can discretely update a parent when at a party, letting them know where they are and that they’re safe. Or in the event that a pre-set check in time be missed, the user’s last known location is sent to their nominated contacts.
One element of Thread is that it allows users to check into pre-set deadlines for activities such as leaving school, to then go to a sporting field or send an update on the fly, if plans change and the user needs to update their network.
The Update function allows users to discuss their concerns alongside images. This component encourages users to communicate with their trusted contacts through an informal chat medium, which is locked down to trusted contacts.
The Alert function is the core of Thread’s personal safety alarm and when activated sends the user’s location to their trusted contacts, launches the phone and dials 000. This function can be activated from the PIN screen. 000 can be dialled in as little as three taps on an unlocked phone.
Throughout the building of the app, the intended audience of Thread was at the forefront of the design process to ensure people wanted to use the app, and therefore prevent incidents like Carly’s tragedy from happening to other children.
“Today’s youth are very aware of app design; they have no time for poorly designed apps, which are not easy and pleasing to use. Therefore, the design needed to appeal to them and their parents – two very different age groups with different experiences in using apps. We had to ensure we spoke to both groups equally,” said Lord.
Thread was first developed for the iOS platform and when Google saw its potential to save lives, they supported the development of Thread for the Android platform.