What’s the difference between feeling safe vs. being safe? Being safe is a reflection of actually being appropriately prepared with the right safety technology for a common emergency.
We all want to feel safe.
As go through our busy daily lives, it's easy to worry. We worry about getting more done, keeping ourselves organized, and making sure we and our families are safe and secure. We buy a huge amount of products, including security cameras, high-tech phones, and all different kinds of insurance just to feel a little bit more secure. Technology is advancing to help keep us safe and is working its way into our lives in unexpected ways. Just recently, a wearable FitBit provided crucial evidence in a Connecticut murder case, demonstrating that the information provided by wearables could be the missing piece to the personal safety puzzle.
But just because we feel safe doesn't mean we are safer. We can surround ourselves with data-measuring gadgets, but what about when we need help right now? The tech industry has been working on devices to prevent assault, rather than simply measure data after the fact. Computer Security Expert Bruce Schneier has spent his career, and a very popular Ted Talk, pointing out the difference between feeling safer and actually being safe. In his Ted Talk, " The Security Mirage," Schneier discusses the psychology of feeling safe. "We worry about the wrong things: paying too much attention to minor risks and not enough attention to major ones," he writes on his website. Schneier argues that big risks we hear about in the news, by definition, are rare; as citizens, we need to prepare and prevent more common everyday risks. That's what will keep up truly safer from the common risks of assaults and accidents, rather than feel safer from the relatively unlikely events such as shark attacks and plane crashes.
Schneier argues that to both feel and be safer at the same time, we need to make appropriate trade-offs. Instead of simply soothing our anxieties, in times of calm, we need to plan and strategize about how to react in times of stress. Schneier argues that we need to realistically analyze the severity and probability of the risk in order to properly respond. Staying realistic will help us respond appropriately when an emergency really happens.
A great example of something that makes us all feel safe is our smartphones. These powerful computers make us feel like the world is in our pocket — and it is, when we have the focus and ability to use it. It's easy to imagine calling 911 or a friend when we're sitting calmly in a coffee shop. But how easy is your phone to use when you're in a car accident, and it flies into the backseat? Or when your fear response leaves you shaking so hard you can't get your fingers to properly enter the passcode? Or when an attacker immediately takes it out of your hands, as any twenty-first-century criminal would do?
Safety technology must perform under the conditions of an actual emergency to be effective. It must be extremely simple to use, easy to keep on your person, and above all, discreet. Our phones make us feel safe, but in terms of actually staying safe, they are only one piece of the puzzle.
Technology companies like Wearsafe have been working on solving this problem by creating wearable devices that stand up to these challenges. While other companies use disguised jewelry or other methods, Wearsafe uses a simple Tag that clips anywhere on the body. The Tag is a portable panic button that uses Bluetooth to connect with your smartphone. By pressing the Tag — an action that is simple and discreet, even in times of extreme distress — the user activates the Wearsafe App. That App instantly shares live audio, GPS location information, and a group chat to the user's selected network. When an emergency is happening, all the user has to do is hit a simple button, and their network will spring into action.
What's the trade-off with Wearables like Wearsafe? Schneier might say that there's an upfront cost, but not much. These companies use an affordable subscription service and a few minutes of your time to set up your network. After that, it's all set up for when you find yourself in an emergency. Then, when you're on the run, on the road, and on the move, you can rest easy. You'll know that feeling of being safe is a reflection of actually being appropriately prepared for a common emergency.
Watch Bruce Schneier’s “The Mirage of Safety” Ted Talk: