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Capitol Hill residents turn to phone app as safety tool

SEATTLE — Capitol Hill residents met Monday night to learn about a new safety app, launched last month by a Bellevue company.

UbnAppd can be downloaded on a smart phone, with a subscription rate of $29.99 per year.

Users can tap the app icon, and the app immediately begins a video recording with the flash on. Every 10 seconds, the video is updated on the company’s cloud-based server.

The default setting will automatically send emails to a user’s designated emergency contacts after 30 seconds of recording. One can set the time limit to be longer or shorter than 30 seconds.

The email will tell friends or family where the user is located via GPS tracking. The email will also include a link to the video that’s been uploaded to the cloud.

The emergency contacts do not include law enforcement, but if the contacts aren’t able to reach the user, they can view the video and decide to call police.

“People’s phones may have this or may not. If you’re a criminal, you’re going to think twice about this,” said Shaun Knittel, president of Social Outreach Seattle.

Knittel gathered a group of interested residents to learn about the app Monday, after dealing with a high number of crimes over the summer. Capitol Hill saw more muggings in the month of August than any other month in recent years.

“If it’s going to help, I think it’s a good idea. Sounds like things are getting kind of bad, and I work late,” said Piper Traywick, who works in Capitol Hill.

The app developers said it can be used as a preventative tool. For example, someone walking alone in a dark place at a late hour may want to keep the app open and recording while walking to his or her car.

“I was just in Cleveland this past weekend. I was in a dark area, there was nobody around. I just got my phone ready, I got my app ready, just in case something happened,” said Medardo Delos Santos, the creator of UbnAppd.

If a user does not need emergency contacts to be notified, he or she can enter a PIN to stop the recording. On the other hand, if emergency contact needs to be made sooner than the set time limit, a click of the home button will stop recording and immediately send notices out.

KIRO 7 asked if having the phone out would invite people to steal it.

“You don’t want mace in your purse; you want to carry the mace on you. You want it ready to go. So why wouldn’t you do the same with your app?” said Sam St. Michael, an account executive for UbnAppd. “Yes, it may be snatched out of your hand. It may not solve everything, but hopefully it will help.”

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