Prompted by the kidnapping and set to launch in the near future, the SOS Israel app will allow anyone in Israel facing an emergency to trigger an SOS call to emergency services, which will be notified of the person’s location via their smartphone. The app will also alert the person’s emergency contacts that he or she is in trouble.
The app comes from NowForce, an Israeli startup that creates apps for emergency response teams that can locate the closest responder to an incident, connect them with the command center and allow them to analyze incidents after they occur. The new app makes accessible to individuals and streamlines the features of other apps NowForce has created for institutions.
The app might have prevented a blunder that occurred when Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach were abducted from the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion last Thursday: police waited nearly seven hours before responding to the teens’ call for help, believing it was a prank.
The app is not the first to be inspired by an Israeli security crisis. During Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, a 13-year-old from the embattled southern city of Beersheva created an app that notified users whenever a siren sounded in an Israeli city ahead of an incoming rocket from Gaza.