There’s an app for that. Although that statement is often the punchline of a joke, the development of apps and gadgets can not only make our lives easier, but can even save lives. Researchers, industry experts, and governments across the globe recently partnered to develop an app that could track the spread of coronavirus, based on location information from people’s smartphones.
China first developed an app that would assign a code to users in accordance with their health status and their responses to certain questions regarding their recent travel and contacts. The code will tell users if they had come in contact with others who have the virus and would let them know if they were safe to be out, should stay home for seven days, or should quarantine for two weeks. A similar app was developed in Korea, and the United Kingdom. was also working on such an app.
Due to privacy restrictions in the United States, at the time of publication, the United States government was not looking into developing a tracking-type app to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
While COVID-19 spread is one type of safety issue someone could encounter while traveling, travelers need to know many more things, including weather, closures of beaches, political uprisings, and other potential hazards. There are apps for each of these issues, and even apps that can help you arrange safe transportation, put you in contact with a medical professional in a region where you are traveling, notify the U.S. embassy if you experience problems, or can point out other issues, such as traffic delays. If you’re planning to travel to Orlando or anywhere in the world, here are some useful traveler safety apps and gadgets to consider for your trip from the auto accident attorneys at Michael T. Gibson.
With thousands upon thousands of apps available for both Android and iPhone users, there are bound to be hundreds of them devoted to travel. Here is a short list of some of the most highly recommended ones.
Sitata was developed by a well-known leader in public health and emergency preparedness who leveraged skills developed through work with the World Health Organization and service as Canada’s first Director of Emergency Preparedness to ensure travelers have the information they need to make choices and decisions about their safety.
Self-named the most comprehensive travel safety app on the planet, Sitata provides these services to travelers:
- Booking a flight: The app can either handle your travel arrangements or put you in contact with a travel agency. Once your flight is booked, the app will provide you with real-time flight information, information about the latest safety and security issues in the region where you are traveling, and any health concerns or recommended vaccinations that you should undergo before traveling.
- Avoiding travel disruptions: The app provides information to the traveler regarding potential travel disruptions including flight delays, disease outbreaks, transit shutdowns or strikes, and even violent situations taking place in the area where traveled.
- Communication with medical personnel: The app provides users with the chance to speak to a medical professional via phone or video chat, to meet with specialists in travel medicine, or to obtain a clinic visit or a doctor’s visit to their hotel room.
The app is available for free download. Organizations and others wanting enhanced features can also purchase an upgraded version of Sitata Plus.
The motto for the travel safety app offered by BSafe is “never walk alone.” The app allows you to designate family or friends as “guardians” and to have the ability to share your location with your guardians and to alert these individuals when you arrive safely at your destination. It also provides your guardians with live streaming and recorded audio and video from your cell phone. The app’s safety features can be activated through touch or by giving an SOS command that you select.
Other features include:
- Follow Me: This function allows you to send invites to your guardians so that they can track your journey through GPS. You can see which of your friends and family members are tracking you, providing the peace of mind that comes from knowing who “has your back.”
- Fake Call: If you are in an unpleasant or unsafe situation, the BSafe app can activate a fake call and give you to have an excuse to step away.
- Timer Alarm: If you have set your location and the time you arrive there, the app will notify your guardians if you fail to make it to your destination.
BSafe was developed by a company in partnership with alarm centers, mobile operators and mobile providers to prevent crimes such as violence, sexual assault, and rape, as well as providing evidence in situations where such crimes have occurred. There are several price points for the app, depending on whether it is for personal use or use in a group or corporate situation.
GeoSure compiles the most up-to-date safety and security data on the market and makes this information available for consumers via its app, which is available for both Android and iOS platforms. The app features continuously updated ratings for every popular destination and major city in the world, right down to offering information that is specific for one particular neighborhood. There are seven safety categories that the app tracks through country, city, and neighborhood crime statistics as well as health, economic, and political data feeds, travel and tourism alerts, real-time reports, and mapping technology.
The safety categories include:
- Women’s safety
- Health and medical
- Physical harm
- LGBTQ safety
- Political freedoms
- Overall safety
The app’s features allow you to track risk, providing a gender-specific score that measures your personal vulnerability where you are as well as forecasting your safety in the location where you’re headed. Additionally, the app allows you to compare what your personal safety will be in places where you’ve never been to what it is in places that you are familiar with.
STEP is the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The program then allows this embassy or consulate to communicate with the traveler about the safety conditions in their destination country and enables the embassy to reach you in an emergency. The Smart Traveler app is available for free to facilitate this service and also provide you with a unified space to create personal itineraries, notes, and other important information needed for your trip.
The TravWell app, offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allows international travelers to build a trip to see destination-specific vaccination recommendations. The app also provides the ability to receive a travel preparation checklist and to customize a travel packing list. You will also receive emergency contact phone numbers for services available at your destination. Many of the “during travel” features are available offline, meaning you can access them even while your phone is in airplane mode or when you can’t access a WiFi connection.
As a companion app, the CDC also offers its “Can I Eat This?” app, which lets you know whether the local cuisine that is being offered to you is all right to consume, or if it poses a high likelihood of causing traveler’s diarrhea or other health concerns.
Sticking to a budget? Hard. Sticking to a budget while on vacation? Even harder. Sticking to a budget while traveling in a foreign country? Extraordinarily difficult, unless you have an app to help you. Free for iOS users, Trail Wallet can help you convert your budget from one currency to another as you document your spending. The app was developed by travelers and has been used and reviewed by many more travelers. It is described as user-friendly and most functions are available with an easy tap on the dashboard. Once you’ve set up the app, it can be used to develop a daily budget and track your spending by week or by other categories. For Android users, an app called Trabee Pocket operates in a similar way.
In addition to the plethora of apps to be had, technology has upped the travel gadget game, as well. Here are some favorite gadgets that you should not leave home without.
Travel Door Alarm
One of the security risks that you face when traveling is leaving your top-of-the-line alarm system at home. Now you have an alarm system to take with you to place on your hotel room doors or windows. Compact and portable, the travel alarm emits 91dB of sound when triggered and comes with an attached LED flashlight for use in dark areas where you may be unfamiliar with your surroundings.
Your days of traveling with multiple adapters are over. With two USB ports and adapters for 150 different countries, this travel adapter is safe to use wherever you may roam and is optimized for fast and efficient charging. It features over-current protection, short-circuit protection, and over-temperature protection. It also features an LED alert when it is in use and charging.
Security from theft is an important consideration when traveling. Designed by the trusted anti-theft brand, PacSafe, this portable safe is made of highly durable materials, including wire mesh and poly canvas. It is foldable and can be stored flat in your suitcase. It can be cabled to furniture or fixtures, making it a must-have for days at the beach. The bag is big enough to store valuables, including identification and passports, wallets or credit cards, and laptops or smart phones.
Jetpack MiFi 8800L
Lack of coverage and reliable WiFi are major concerns for business travelers and those who like to stay connected while on vacation. Verizon’s Jetpack allows you to connect up to 15 devices on your own personal network. The Jetpack features built-in QuickCharge technology and can hold its battery charge for up to 24 hours. Keep your communication private with an always-secure connection and an optional guest network.
If you ever lost an important item while traveling or you’re the type of person who spends far too much time trying to locate all of your belongings, the Tile Mate is for you. By using your smart phone, you can “ring” your misplaced items that contain a Tile Mate tile to locate them. If you leave these items behind, you can easily see where they were left with the GPS locator. If you misplace a tile, the entire tile community can help you locate it by providing location updates from their tile app to yours that only you can see.
40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger
This USB wall charger is recommended by the Wall Street Journal, which called it a “god send.” With four ports, it works great for the traveling family or even for a solo traveler who has a lot of gadgets that need to be charged. Its compact design, foldable plug and 100 to 240 volt input makes it a great addition to your packing list.
The Bottom Line
While apps and gadgets can help keep you safe, so can other necessary travel preparations, including:
- Research before you travel. While your app can give you up-to-date information, you should have a working knowledge of the location where you’re going, its customs, travel requirements, and even safe spots for travelers before you head out.
- Look like a local. When in Rome… try not to stand out and make yourself a target for criminals. Don’t flash your fancy expensive gear, talk about or show others the money or items you have.
- When making travel arrangements, go with trusted companies and book your tickets in advance so you have time to make alternative arrangements if necessary.
- Use caution. Not every person or situation is trustworthy. Trust your gut: If you have a feeling that a location or a situation is not right, it probably isn’t.
Michael T. Gibson P.A.
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue, Suite 150
Orlando, FL 32814