"iSafe" app for Android keeps the fearful in fear

Sascha Segan tells us about an overwrought app for Android phones called "iSafe", a GPS-driven tracker for the paranoid that alerts its users when they're in a high-crime area or motoring through a neighborhood that harbors a sex offender.
A "sex offender," of course, can be anyone from some idiot teenager who took porno shots of herself for her boyfriend to a housebound elderly man who did despicable things in 1966. But if you're driving past Ms. Accidental Porn Star's house, iSafe will blurt out "You are in a sex offender neighborhood!" and you'll resolve never to let the kids out into the yard again. By giving no additional details, iSafe increases the fear. At least on Web sites like familywatchdog.us, I found out that the guy who lives half a mile from me was convicted once, ten years ago, of assaulting an adult, and probably isn't a serial child molester. Even those sites, of course, don't give the full story. The full story, sadly, usually involves violence against a family member or someone already known to the assailant, not violence against a stranger. By not supplying details, iSafe invites you to falsely imagine the worst: marauding killers prowling the streets.
Just terrible. I'm fine with the app being available, of course, but I agree with Segan that this sort of thinking only breeds unproductive fear. Humorously, all of New York City, one of the safest places per-capita in the nation, is listed as "unsafe for personal crime". Opinion: Android App iSafe is Bad For America [Appscout.com]
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9 Responses to "iSafe" app for Android keeps the fearful in fear

  1. Anonymous says:

    so what happends when one presses the panic button on the G1 google phone?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this sort of app is interesting. Pretty flawed, but interesting. I love the idea of my phone giving my locative statistics (although I’d rather have an indicator warning me when I get in an area with too-high a starbucks density). Maybe something like when you’re in an area with lots of previous car break-ins, so you can park elsewhere. Or a place with a lot of muggings. Those at least make more sense, although if you can’t tell an area like that based on its general atmosphere of shadiness, I doubt Google will help you.

    I think I just have a crush on ambient data intake. I wish my phone would rattle off statistics all day long. Warn me when the pollution level gets too high, tell me when my fly’s down (maybe after a 3-step trigger so it doesn’t do it at the urinal), etc.

  3. Enochrewt says:

    Tere’smap for sex offenders at http://www.mapsexoffenders.com, and if you look at it, you’d be surprised how many offenders there are in ALL neighborhoods. Having your cellphone shout that out is a great way to ensure that a person never comes out of their hidey hole.

    The sex offender laws are such bullshit, for every one genuine monster, there’s at least 5 people that get railroaded for urinating in public or something.

  4. RJ says:

    So it’s basically a douchebag alarm. Not for the potential crooks or anything, but for the one with the alarm software.

    Weeeooooeeeeooooo Oh no! Bob’s a douchebag! Dude, let me out here!

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is no safe place, but some are less safe than others. This would be a good application for when a person is in a town they’ve never been to though.

  6. Todd Sieling says:

    Wow, have mercy on my brain. Stuff like this, where personal awareness and common sense are supposedly sublimated by a piece of technology, are real scars on the soul of community. I’m all for not walking down the dark alley in a sketchy part of town, but pulling out that fancy new phone to check what dangers lurk seems like folly. Bad use cases, all around!

  7. SuperMarina says:

    This sounds like a very useful app for those who very badly want something to be afraid of and haven’t heard about the recession!

  8. Lazlo Panaflex says:

    “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly”

  9. 10MoreYearsInVideoGames says:

    Can Mr Segan (and maybe RJ @ #5) answer this for me…

    If I’m in a long-term loving relationship, which involves taking visual records of our sex life, which stimulates both myself as the (knowingly slightly submissive) subject and my partner, whom I trust implicitly, as the (knowingly slightly dominant) photographer/videographer, does that automatically make me an “idiot” and/or a “douchebag”?

    Or does it require the accidental leaking of said material to tip me over that line?

    Just wanna know – so I can work out how bad to feel about this previously enjoyable aspect of my sex life.

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