Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kidnapped teens inspire 'SOS Israel' smartphone app

In response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week, some Israelis have prayed. Some have voiced support on social media. And some have done what they do best: they made an app, JTA reports.

An emergency app called “SOS” has been released in Israel by the United Hatzalah volunteer emergency rapid response service.

The emergency alert app allows users to send a distress call with their precise location to United Hatzalah and the Israeli police.

The app uses technology created by the Israeli company NowForce to map out and respond to emergencies. The technology allows medic volunteers closest to the emergency to receive the mobile alerts and be dispatched.

After the kidnapping, United Hatzalah and NowForce accelerated the launch of a public version of “SOS.”

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.

The app is available on in English and Hebrew.

The app might have prevented a blunder that occurred when Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach were abducted from the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion last Thursday: police waited nearly seven hours before responding to the teens’ call for help, believing it was a prank.

The app is not the first to be inspired by an Israeli security crisis. During Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defence in Gaza, a 13-year-old from the embattled southern city of Be'er Sheva created an app that notified users whenever a siren sounded in an Israeli city ahead of an incoming rocket from Gaza.

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