Here in Mexico, we have recently experienced a serious rise in personal security issues. People have been kidnapped in their taxis and rideshares, or have increasingly found themselves in situations where they feel unsafe on the street. I wanted to do something to help so I created Ayuda.la, a mobile app designed to help people when they find themselves in dangerous situations.
What is Ayuda.la?
Ayuda.la is an app that allows you to ask for help whenever you are in a dangerous situation. For example, if you are in a taxi and you see that it is taking a different route than usual, or walking on a dark street and notice a car following you, you can use the Ayuda.la app to send your location to your emergency contacts and ask them for help.
When you send out a request for help, your emergency contacts receive a link that provides them with your profile information, the location from which you requested assistance, and your real-time location updates. They can then use this information to get you the assistance you need.
How Ayuda.la Works
This is the home screen of the Ayuda.la app I created:
When you first login to Ayuda.la, you will create your profile. Your profile includes your login information, a recent photo of yourself, and any other information that you want your contacts to have in case of an emergency.
You can then set up the list of emergency contacts that the app will message whenever you send a distress call. These contacts can be edited or updated at any time.
Once your profile is set up, every subsequent time you enter the app, the first thing you see is a button that says “I need help.” When you click this button, it immediately sends out the distress message and link to all of your emergency contacts.
When your contacts click on the link, they are taken to the emergency contact dashboard. As you can see, the dashboard displays your profile picture, personal information, and an up-to-date map that is tracking your location:
One of the benefits of Ayuda.la is that your emergency contacts do not need the app on their devices to see your information; they just follow the link and it directs them to your profile and map.
Once the danger has passed, the app also has an “I am safe” button. Once you click the button and enter your password, a notification that you are safe is sent to all of your emergency contacts.
One of the coolest features of this app is the fake password. When you set up your profile, you also set up a fake password to be used under duress. For example, you may find yourself in a situation where the person who kidnapped you is telling you to click the “I am safe” button. When the app prompts you for your password, you can use the fake password instead. The fake password will still simulate the app sending the “I am safe” message to your emergency contacts. However, it will actually send a message to your emergency contacts that tells them that someone knows about the app and is threatening you.
Ayuda.la Research Initiative
My hope is that the Ayuda.la app’s usage won’t just be limited to immediate benefits. The Ayuda.la app will record the time and location of each instance when the “I need help” and “I am safe” buttons are pressed. If enough people begin using the app, we should be able to use this data to identify trends in where people are kidnapped and where they are taken. These trends can potentially be used to map dangerous areas and help prevent future kidnappings.
Ayuda.la Next Steps
I created the initial Ayuda.la app in two months, and am now working to add additional features. Some of the features that I would still like to add to the app include:
- Easy ways to automatically send additional information to emergency contacts, such as the make, model, and license plate of the car, or the rideshare account information of your driver.
- A supplementary application so that if the user is not connected to the internet, they are still able to activate the app. Once this system is live, when a user that is not connected to the internet clicks the “I need help” button, an SMS message will be sent to the supplementary application, which will in turn send the information to the emergency contacts.
Overall, I believe that the Ayuda.la app could be very beneficial as both a preventative and responsive solution to increased crime. I look forward to continuing to improve the app and getting it into the hands of those that need it.
- React JS & React Native
- Elixir & Phoenix