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United Hatzalah Develops 'Anti-Kidnap' App

'SO' app developed in response to abduction of three Israeli teens, provides police with coordinates to allow rapid response.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 6/19/2014, 3:54 PM

Anti-kidnap app (file)
Anti-kidnap app (file)
Thinkstock

Following the tragic kidnapping of three Israeli teens, Israel's United Hatzalah emergency service has created a special app to prevent kidnappings.

The app, aptly called "SOS", is an emergency alert app which allows users to immediately dispatch a distress call and their precise location to both United Hatzalah and the Israeli police.

The LifeCompass technology behind the app is already used by United Hatzalah's dispatch centers to respond rapidly to emergency situations, using GPS-oriented technology to ensur that volunteers closest to the emergency receive the mobile-alerts and are then dispatched. 

Now, the organization is applying that technology in order to help prevent future kidnappings of the sort which saw Eyal Yifrah, Gidon Shaar and Naftali Frenkel abducted by terrorists as they hitchhiked home last Thursday night.

According to reports which surfaced soon after the kidnapping, the boys had managed a brief call to police in which one of them said "we've been kidnapped!" before the line was cut off. Tragically, police initially wrote off the call as a prank, losing valuable time in the search.

The SOS app could hopefully prevent such situations from happening in the future - it not only provides a quick and easy way to call for help, but also uses GPS to allow the owner's movements to be tracked more easily.

With a swipe of your smartphone, a call is sent out simultaneously to police and to United Hatzalah’s 24/7 dispatch center, who receive the phone’s GPS coordinates and then alert the police of the exact location. 

In addition to tracking the user via the smartphone, the system contacts any family or friends that are pre-programmed into the system during registration.

But United Hatzalah cautioned that the app "is designed to function as an emergency safety and security alert system and is not meant to replace direct verbal communication with police, fire or medical emergency dispatchers."

"Our main mission at United Hatzalah is to get to medical emergencies within two minutes all over the country," says United Hatzalah’s president and founder Eli Beer. "With the recent kidnappings, we feel obliged to share our knowledge and technology to provide that extra layer of protection for the people of Israel."

The app can be downloaded in English and in Hebrew at sos.nowforce.com