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Seattle University encouraging students to use iWitness to protect themselves

Seattle University will encourage its students to use a new app called iWitness to protect themselves. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Every day, we find new uses for our smart phones. They entertain us, inform us, and now, protect us.

A service called iWitness is teaming up with Seattle University to protect students against physical and sexual violence. But it’s available to you, too.

iWitness was developed in Seattle by Dave Remer. It acts as a personal surveillance system.

“It’ll be capturing your environment. We know your GPS and we’ll hear every sound. So if you were attacked and didn’t see him coming, even though your camera was on all this time, he still is going to make a noise, so we’re going to get a voice print and we’re going to know when it happened and where it was, which again is very, very tough evidence.”

The video, audio and GPS data is uploaded to a cloud-based system, so it can’t be deleted by a criminal. It’s then stored if you need it or deleted if you don’t.

iWitness also has a feature that, if something happens to you, it will notify pre-selected family and friends and call 911 by simply touching the screen. Or it can notify police if it senses danger.

“If it’s jarred quickly or dropped out of a hand it will also do the same functions, notify friends in text and email, attempt to call the police on 911 and store the data that had preceded it in the cloud for eternity,” says Remer.

Remer says his iWitness invention is popular among women, who often feel threatened when they’re out at night alone, and can also be used by kids who are being bullied on the bus or at school.

“It’s going to record everything going on around you, video and audio,” says Remer. “We hope people will habituate to this. We hope they’ll use it every day.”

In Washington, it’s legal to record video of someone in a public space. However, it’s still illegal to purposefully record someone’s voice without their consent. But, Remer says iWitness is legal because you’re using it in the event a crime occurs.

“When it gets to a crime being committed, those rules are off,” says Remer.

Seattle University will encourage its students to use iWitness as the school year gets underway. They’ll have access to the app at half price.

Anyone else can use it on their Android or iPhone for about $29.99 a year.

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