Concerned about their fellow citizens’ safety, creators the world over have developed mobile apps to convert our phones into tools to ensure our safety. From France to Cameroon to Brazil, these five apps are potential game changers if users find themselves in dangerous situations. They could even save lives.

Ensuring safety as a group

Created in Marseille in 2015, Qwidam is a so-called citizen app that offers to provide help during emergencies by relying on local, communal aid. It works like a social network: you can add friends and directly communicate with them. The app has two main features: the SOS, which allows you to ask members of your network in the vicinity for help; and the alert, to warn others of a potential danger. Qwidam allows you and others in your network to report accidents, disappearances, natural disasters, or any other dangerous situation. It also allows you to connect to public networks, including bus stations, stadiums, ski resorts or even festivals, so that you can be in direct and permanent contact with other users. A version for professionals is also available for employees working abroad in at-risk countries.

Fighting against street harassment

In 2016, 86% of women in Brazil reported being harassed in public transport. To fight this scourge, feminist activist Simony César developed the NINA app to help Brazilian women report harassment or violence in public spaces, especially in public transport. NINA locates and maps cases of harassment in real time. It also identifies areas at great risk and alerts users circulating in those areas. César describes NINA as an empowerment tool in the fight against sexual violence, and hopes that the data collected will lead to new measures to protect women. In France, the Handsaway app was created in a similar vein.

Avoiding stray bullets

Still in Brazil, the app Fogo Cruzado – “crossfire” in Portuguese – was launched in November 2017 in Rio de Janeiro to locate shootings around the city in real time. Reuters explains that the app geolocates users on their route and tell them which areas to avoid in order to minimize their chances of being caught by crossfire, just like a GPS would tell you how to dodge traffic jams. Fogo Cruzado works via crowdsourcing. The app’s creation comes on the heels of an 11% increase in Rio’s murder rate in the first five months of 2017, or 2,329 murders between January and May.

Providing assistance after an accident

The Red Cross’ mobile app – the French version is called “the app that saves” – tells you how to take quick and appropriate action after witnessing an accident. It puts you in direct contact with relief services and also teaches you what you can do to immediately assist victims. Video tutorials give step by step instructions on how to react if you witness someone choking, burning or suffering from a severe allergy. The “Emergency” tab even allows you to ask questions about the patient’s condition in real time and provides instructions on how to dispense care.

Safety on the roads

Between 2005 and 2010, speeding vehicles, bad roads and poor vehicle conditions accounted for 20,000 deaths on roads in Cameroon. To prevent accidents, Achiri Arnold Nji, a 27-year-old developer, created the Traveler mobile app. It allows users to monitor the speed at which buses and other means of public transport circulate, check trajectories, and report any dangerous driving to road safety agents. In the event of a breakdown or an accident, Traveler also makes it possible to immediately notify emergency services. This innovation received the Orange Award for social entrepreneurship in 2017, and was well received in Cameroon. “This platform is not only beneficial, it is essential for our country,” D. Mbamone, the director of road transport, said