It’s not often that you’re attacked by a random stranger, but if/when it does happen preparedness is the key. Think back to your karate days, carry pepper spray, use the buddy system, and stay alert. And when all that fails, download the My Witness app on your phone. In the rare case that you actually have the opportunity to snap a picture of your attacker, you’ll be glad you did.
While our 911 service is evolving to allow for text, video and images, the reality of those improvements is still years away. The My Witness app won’t act as a full-fledged replacement for that (in fact, it isn’t sending information to 911 at all), but it may just save your life. Or at the very least, help the authorities catch the bad guy.
Here’s how it works: after installing the app, simply enter in your own contact information, as well as the email addresses of three emergency contacts. All you have to do is enter information once and it’s stored for good.
So let’s say couple hypothetical weeks later, you’re walking home from a hypothetical bar late at night when you start feeling hypothetical eyes on the back of your head. Hypothetically speaking, you’re being followed. At that point you have one of two choices: you can call the cops on someone who is possibly 100 percent innocent or you can load up the My Witness app and get ready to snap a pic.
If the stalker ends up being a danger, take a pic (you know, since the cameras on our phones are all about the speedy shutter) and the app immediately and automatically sends the picture to the email addresses you provided, along with your location and phone number.
At an idea level, this makes a lot of sense. Muggers tend to get away with their crimes, but this could throw a little justice into the mix. However, in practice I don’t see this being as useful as we’d like. Taking a crisp, quick picture with your phone is hard enough, but taking a picture of a criminal attacking and/or stalking you borders on impossible. Past that, email isn’t necessarily the most immediate way to get a hold of someone either.
Then again, phone makers have grown increasingly focused on the camera. The iPhone 4S, for example, has an upgraded shooter, along with a camera button on the lock screen to take quick pics. Still, it may not be quick or stealthy enough to capture a criminal in the act, though it may be a great way to witness and document crimes from afar.