Consider all of the functions that exist in a smartphone — GPS, video recording, face detection and the like. Mobile applications that creatively combine them can achieve some pretty neat stuff.

But Some app developers are gunning for better than neat. They want to solve social problems and maybe even save lives. Consider the application these students from Spain developed.

The newly trained coders — all teenage girls — wanted to make something to help women feel safer outdoors. All women know those moments when they’d love to take a jog, but it’s getting a bit dark outside; or they need to run to the store for some essentials late at night. Waiting for daylight might be the smartest choice. But on occasions when they can’t wait, it’s wise to have a defense — like Mace spray — with them.

At Technovation World Pitch, Team LPSN offered another option. Their app — called When and Where — acts a bit like a digital bodyguard with a direct line to the police.

Team members Paula Fernández Rosas, Sandra Caamaño Gómez, Nuria Villoria, Lucía Adrián Tovar, and Lucía Fernández spoke with Sonia Tagare, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Technovation World Pitch event in Santa Clara, California. They discussed women’s safety issues and the challenges they overcame in creating the app (see the full interview with transcript here).

Rush to safety

The team’s app obtains users’ location in real time and detects anomalies while they walk or run. For example, if they stop or if they aren’t getting to their destination on time, it automatically calls emergency services or another emergency contact of the user’s choosing.

Another mode monitors users to make sure they stay on the proper route. “That’s when you, for example, want to go home. And so if you don’t follow your route, the app sends you an alert. And in case of emergency, it sends a message to your contact,” Fernández Rosas said.

The tragic murder of runner Laura Luelmo in Spain last year deeply affected team members. It elevated their awareness of dangers women face in public spaces. When they learned about the Technovation challenge, they realized it was their chance to try to affect change.

Technovation helps teams of girls around the world learn about coding and develop apps to address problems in their communities. “In our country, there have been a lot of women murdered, kidnapped. And we thought that it was something very, very important,” Tovar said. 

With only a couple of months to develop the app, the team had to quickly round a learning curve. They managed to build adequate coding and programming muscle to pull it off and make it to World Pitch. They want to continue improving the app, adding new languages and iOS compatibility.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Technovation World Pitch event:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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