Power Button for Help Power Button for Help

Recently an open-source 'Panic Button' application was launched on Google play. It allows turning a smartphone power button into an emergency tool. The app was developed to help activists who often put themselves at risk while protecting the rights of others.

Panic Button sends an SMS to each of the several chosen contacts so that they can mobilize action as quick as possible. The app can be disguised as a calculator if you want. To trigger the message sending, the user has to press the power button 5 times in 5 seconds until the phone vibrates or type number 1 several times on the calculator. The preset text will be sent along with your GPS coordinates.

Still this software might be not the best choice for those living in countries that practice telecommunication monitoring and interception against activists, as it reveals data about your location and trusted contacts. And this formed a major consideration point for the developers. Still, the activists themselves said that the “possibility of having an SMS alert intercepted was a risk worth taking in exchange for the ability to get word out fast of being physically endangered”.

Amnestry International has been developing the application for more than a year and is to continue working over it. Panic Button is planned to be made capable of video transmission and private email and social accounts shutdown for network security.