Keeping Safe With Safie

By June Ramli


Sydney, September 28: Sparked by a tragedy nine years ago, three friends – Ross Sbisa, Matt Ball and Chris Jonker – have finally launched the long awaited app for Aussies in emergency situations.
Known as Safie, the app was launched at the end of July and is currently sitting at 3,500 downloads.
“The idea behind the formation of the app started after Jill Meagher, an ABC staffer was fatally attack in the early hours of September 22, 2012, in Melbourne,” founder Chris Jonker told DailyStraits.com
“The incident triggered the thought process with Ross.
“There has to be something out there that can help improve our safety and in the worst case scenario’s of assaults or worse help catch offenders.
Jonker explained that significant time was put into researching other existing platforms and technology before the hardcoding for the app was outsource to a third-party company.
“Early on, the technology wasn’t there.

Safie App Founders. From Left:From left: Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa, Chris Jonker. Supplied.
Safie App Founders. From Left:From left: Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa, Chris Jonker. Supplied.

“Australia’s network was simply too slow to ensure the data captured would get to the emergency contacts quickly or at all. 
“Over time Ross began to put together his thoughts on what the app needed and then went about finding the right people to help him make it a reality.
“As a father, small business owner and in the process of building a house this took time. Actual development time and testing of the app was closer to two and a half years,” he said.
Jonker said the app allowed people to alert their designated contact that they were in trouble, send images from both the front and back of the camera, and their location.
Its unique drawcard is the panic button – with which pre-written SOS alerts, anything from a friend-to-friend “get me out of here” to a child-to-parent “I’m lost”, can notify contacts with a single press of a button.  
The final application, the “I’m Not OK button”, came about from the stress of lockdowns and a growing national awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues, especially among young adults.
Jonker said the trio was looking at ramping up its international releases in the next few months once they were done with testing.
“This was a complex project.
“What may sound like a simple feature -shooting the front and rear facing camera at the same time was quite challenging to get right.
“Then add in live location, voice recording, tagging the images and a time stamp.
“All of this happens in a second and a chosen recipient or recipients is sent a link to the displayed data.
“There’s also obvious challenges with privacy and ensuring the users that those details are only shared with those chosen recipients,” he said.
Jonker refused to reveal the amount spent to develop the app only saying that it was ‘significant’ investment with no outside funding or loans drawn down.
On competition, Jonker told this publication that they were a couple of similar standing apps out there with the majority of them located overseas.
“The most common issue we saw in our research was issues around the recording or sending of data, be video, photo or voice.
“We spent considerable time testing and retesting to ensure Safie worked when it was needed. We currently hold a 4.8/5 star rating and 50 reviews which we’re quite proud of,” he said.
On challenges, he said aside testing issues the majority of their hurdles have been around getting the word out efficiently.
“Contrary to the thoughts of many especially those outside the industry, digital marketing isn’t free.
“There’s literally a sea of other apps out there all vying for people’s attention.
“Being a safety based app we are about as sexy as insurance so it’s been a challenge to spread the word and get downloads.”
Download the app here.

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