JERUSALEM (JTA) – Some 60,000 Israelis have downloaded a free app designed to assist in the event of an abduction.
Using the free United Hatzalah SOS smartphone app, subscribers can inform the emergency organization that they need assistance and provide their exact location via GPS technology. The app, developed by the Israeli start-up NowForce, requires one swipe of the finger.
The system contacts any family or friends that are programmed into the system during registration.
The app responds to problems that arise from placing an emergency call to the police in the event of a kidnapping situation. Security forces have to undergo lengthy legal processes to obtain permission to track an individual’s cell phone signal, prolonging emergency response times and the chance of rescue.
Police received a distress call from one of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers minutes after they were taken, but security forces were unable to ascertain their exact location. They then waitedÂ nearly seven hours before responding to the teens’ call for help, believing it was a prank.
Israeli media have reported that the teens were shot by their abductors in panic after they realized a call had been placed to police. The app allows for a discrete method to call for help, its creators say.