Even though September is REALTOR® Safety Month, your safety should be a year-round focus. And to help you stay safe year round, we’ve created a list of the latest technologies designed with personal safety in mind. These tools include attractive wearable safety devices and savvy smartphone apps that you can use to alert co-workers, loved ones, or the police – and quickly get help when it is needed.
If you carry a smartphone, there are many free or low-cost personal safety apps you can download, including many that have been recommended by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). These apps use your phone’s built in technology – GPS, camera, microphone, and texting – to help you stay secure and bring help if you need it.
(Android, iOS, Blackberry)
- Guardly Mobile
(Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry)
- React Mobile
- Safe Fi Mobile Safety
Apps with small monthly fee or initial cost
- Agents Armor
- OnGuard Help
(Android, iOS, Windows)
Wearable Safety Devices
Smart jewelry and other wearable items make great personal safety devices cleverly disguised as accessories. Two such devices show promise as capable products and are available for pre-order:
Currently in development, the covert Bluetooth-enabled personal security in a charm, Stiletto, will discreetly make a computer-assisted call to 911, or to friends and family, when you need help. This wearable personal safety accessory provides your real-time location to emergency services with just three quick presses to the charm’s button (two presses alerts the contacts that you set up to receive notifications). The device can be worn on interchangeable charms attached to a bracelet or necklace. Stiletto also includes a tiny microphone that can allow police to hear you. Stiletto works with both iPhone and Android devices and when you purchase a charm, the cost includes six months of service. You will have to renew after six months to maintain service, but while the device and charms are not inexpensive, the technology has been heavily reviewed and critically received – the only question is whether it will be sustainable. Similar promising companies, like Cuff and Artemis, have not been able to make a go of the wearable personal safety accessory device.
Wearsafe is a small Bluetooth-enabled tag that you carry with you. It works within 200 feet of your smartphone to instantly send out an alert when you press the tag. The alert goes out to the people you have set up to receive mobile notifications that lets them know you need help – and to alert police to your location. Wearsafe also includes a microphone you can use in an emergency. Currently, Wearsafe is supported on only iPhone or Android smartphones. That said, it is an inexpensive accessory with only a monthly subscription fee. As of this writing, the subscription fee is the only initial cost and it includes one hardware tag. Extra tags are $30.
We also found two online programs worthy of mention: Kitestring and Open Door Partners.
Kitestring checks up on you when and lets you check in with a simple text message. The free version allows you to add one emergency contact to the account you set up online. Then, any time you are heading out on a trip or visit, you set a time for Kitestring to check in on you. If you don’t reply to the text that Kitestring sends to you, Kitestring alerts your emergency contact immediately. The free version allows 15 trips per month, but for a mere $3 per month you can have unlimited emergency contacts and trips.
Real estate offices around the country have been partnering through Open Door Partners to create collective spaces in reception areas of commercial businesses for unaffiliated real estate agents to safely meet a new client nearby to perform a quick safety check-in. Meeting in a professional environment, rather than at a coffee shop or an unoccupied home for sale, helps to keep real estate agents safe. With a motto of “Safety First – Competition Second” Open Door Partners continues to add more safe spaces throughout the U.S. Click to find out if a location near you is available, or talk to your office manager about partnering to provide a safe space for other real estate agents in your area.
All of these technologies can act as the companion you might invite to join you when you are going somewhere – think of these tools the way you might the concept of safety in numbers – for those times when you don’t actually have that trusted companion with you. And remember that, as NAR advocates, the number one safety tip for real estate agents is to prequalify your customers. If a potential client isn’t willing to meet you in your office first, or at another office you designate, and be willing to provide a driver’s license, then they may not really be a client.