According to Willem Groenewald, CEO of the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), Gauteng residents would benefit from a smartphone safety app that offers the same functionality as a panic button. According to MyBroadband, the province announced its plan to buy 500,000 panic buttons in November 2022.
However, Groenewald suggests that a mobile app would be a better choice than panic buttons as smartphones are already widespread, making access to safety mobile apps easier for the existing user base. One app Groenewald suggests is Casi, which is available for R35 per month and offers similar features to a portable panic button. The AA also provides the Rem-i panic button, which costs R1,999 and has features like real-time GPS tracking and emergency contact storage.
Groenewald also emphasises that the selected solution must be competent, as security is a fundamental human right. He advises against using foreign-based hardware and software. Instead, he suggests that local developers develop the technology also to include 24-hour access to a service platform and the ability to speak directly to individual developers.
Groenewald argues that a mobile app is a better solution than panic buttons for several reasons:
- The cost of devices with the bare minimum capabilities of being rechargeable and GSM-connected would be over R600 before technicians install the firmware.
- The device would require a low-frequency, low-use SIM, which would be challenging for residents living in crime-ridden areas.
- Carrying, protecting, and managing an additional device would be inconvenient.
A mobile app like Casi would be more affordable for most South Africans. It would not present the logistical problems that panic buttons do. Casi can also connect users to critical services, such as medical treatment, trauma counselling, and armed security response. Groenewald suggests using a mobile app for Gauteng’s residents’ safety.