Personal safety app developed for at-risk workers


By Carolyn Jackson
Friday, 01 December, 2017

Personal safety app developed for at-risk workers

When New Zealand nurse Hannah Milward was personally confronted with a dangerous situation in the middle of the jungle, she set a plan in place to improve personal safety for all remote workers.

Hannah moved to Cambodia soon after she graduated from nursing to help set up hubs to provide medical treatment for people living in remote villages. “We were all on motorbikes, when on one occasion we had to leave a village just after dark,” she said.

“Soon after we left, my team leader was struck by a logging truck. He was in a bad way with his femur sticking out of his thigh!

“I didn’t know how things could get much worse. Luckily, there was just enough coverage on our mobile to call for help.”

After a horrendous eight hours of somehow managing to travel through the jungle while pressing on the injured leg to stop the bleeding, Hannah and her team leader finally reached safety.

After returning from Cambodia, she continued her work in nursing. “Even in the so-called ‘developed’ world, I experienced many circumstances where I felt unsafe doing nursing work. I was now really driven to help workers like me,” she said.

She teamed up with her father, Phil Milward, a commercial property manager with experience in compliance and hazard management software, and her neighbour, Craig Shepherd, a security monitoring specialist, to develop a solution.

The Verisafe personal safety tool was designed to be affordable, robust and still send alerts when a phone was broken or out reach.

It uses GPS technology and text messaging services. Users can press a ‘Help’ button if they are in trouble, which instantly emails, texts and calls their designated contact person, sending their details and GPS data. There is also an ‘At Risk’ button and automated ‘Home Safe’ checks.

According to Hannah, what sets the solution apart is its safety vault functionality where additional information can be securely stored. “If I know I’m going outside a coverage area, I can set my estimated time of return to say 4 pm. I can make notes in the vault, including my route, my next of kin, passport and insurance details. If I’m not back by 4 pm, the at-risk functionality will automatically escalate and all this information is sent together with my location details to my designated contact.”

A greeny at heart, Hannah didn’t stop there. “Working with technology and hearing about the level of waste and toxins, I also wanted to do something positive for the environment.” She now collects second-hand smartphones and delivers them back to organisations in Cambodia, which reduces waste in New Zealand and helps education and safety overseas.

On her next trip to Cambodia, she will deliver enough old phones for every young adult in two classrooms, plus some phones for elders in the villages who wish to stay connected to family in the cities. She also has plans to up-scale this technology repurposing project and relocate to Australia in 2018.

Top image caption: Phil Milward (left), Hannah Milward and Craig Shepherd, founders of Verisafe.

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