Wouldn't it be great to always have a companion to walk with? A new app can help. Wouldn't it be great to always have a companion to walk with? A new app can help. Wouldn't it be great to always have a companion to walk with? A new app can help. (Photo: Bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock)

5 tech tools that could save lives

From monitoring your health to finding your pet, this innovative software is now at your fingertips.

Whether hailing rides or finding the quickest route home, tracking our fitness or checking the weather, we rely heavily on technology on a daily basis. The apps we “can’t live without” tend to be the ones we use most. But when it comes to software that could be life-saving, frequency of use is moot. What matters more is that we have the technology at hand when we need it.

And while money-saving or productivity apps may be life-changing, the vital apps on this list go one step further, helping to avert danger and proving their worth in real-life emergency situations.

1. PulsePoint Respond

Sometimes saving lives is as simple as harnessing the power of a network, and connecting those who have a certain skill with those who need assistance; this is exactly what Pulse Point’s Respond App does. Emergency dispatchers use the app to alert CPR-certified citizens of incidents in their area where victims require immediate assistance. This increases the possibility that someone suffering from cardiac arrest could get life-saving resuscitation in those vital moments before medical professionals arrive at the scene.

The idea for this app first came to Richard Price when he was fire chief in California's San Ramon Valley. While eating lunch, he saw one of his fire engines pull up outside to assist someone who had collapsed next door. Price, who knows CPR and also has a defibrillator in his car, could have helped the victim had he known just what was going on. PulsePoint, whose tagline is “Enabling Citizen Superheroes,” works by linking up with emergency response agencies across the United States.


2. Cycle Safety Shield

Big-city roads aren’t always a safe place for cyclists or pedestrians, but they could be a lot safer with the use of Cycle Safety Shield. The technology was developed in Israel by MobilEye, a company founded by a computer science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The software relies on sensors and cameras to detect the presence of cyclists and pedestrians on congested city roads. If they get too close, an alarm sounds and a red light flashes, alerting the driver of the impending danger. The system is able to filter out inanimate objects such as bins, signposts and other vehicles, meaning the driver isn’t constantly barraged with false alarms. In London, where bike fatality statistics highlight a worrying trend (over half of all fatal incidents in the U.K. capital since 2008 involved heavy goods vehicles), the technology has already been tested on council trucks in the borough of Ealing. The trials indicate that 15 potentially fatal collisions with cyclists were avoided in just six months. After U.K. trials, we can look forward to seeing this technology come to America.


3. ASPCA – Emergency Pet Safety

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is all about the well-being of your beloved furry friend. Their helpful app counsels cat and dog owners on what to do in a variety of scary situations, including a step-by-step guide to what to do with pets before, during and after a natural disaster, as well as useful tips to finding any lost cats or dogs who may have gone wandering. The app also enables users to store health records for their pets. Though the lives this app saves may not be human, anyone who has ever owned and loved a pet will understand just why we’ve included it on our life-saving list.


4. Medical ID

Not an app per se, Medical ID is a built-in iPhone feature that informs medical personnel of key personal health information, including any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, blood types and organ donor preferences as well as emergency contacts. What’s more, it’s done via the lock screen on your iPhone, meaning the passcode isn’t needed to access the information. Medical ID needs to be set up by the phone owner via the Health app; check the Apple support site for further information on how to do so. Various Android versions allow you to add emergency details to the lock screen, too, though they tend to be less comprehensive than the iPhone feature. For Android 4.2 and later, apps such as ICE: In Case of Emergency should do the job just fine.


5. Companion

We’ve all heard it said a thousand times: walking home alone at night is dangerous. But sometimes circumstances override our intentions and we have no choice but to travel solo through darkness. This is when Companion, a free app created by students at the University of Michigan, can help. The app lets the user send requests to contacts, who can then virtually track their journey home all the way to the front door. Should your chosen companion not be available, never fear; it’s possible to send out several requests, and contacts don’t even need to have the app installed to track your progress. If, for whatever reason, you're feeling a little unsafe en route, you can press the “I Feel Nervous” button, which not only alerts your companion to your unease, but also provides anonymous data to local police departments to help them identify problem areas.

If you do need to call the police, you can do so in just two clicks of the app. If you’re in an area that has subscribed to their monitoring service, Companion will instantly share your GPS location with the emergency services. Even if you’re local service hasn’t subscribed, you’ll still be connected to them just as you would with a normal emergency call.

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