Mobile duress devices – Essential facts
You may have heard the phrase “Internet of Things” or IoT over the last few months and wondered what it is all about.
IoT allows electronic devices of nearly any nature to communicate between each other seamlessly using mobile telephone networks.
The applications are extensive and have been used in anything from vending machines right through to large scale automation systems. Up until now, the uses have been mostly commercial but many products are coming to market that use these technologies that are aimed squarely at the consumer market.
One variation of these products is mobile duress devices.
Mobile duress devices are designed to be small, discrete and can be carried by anyone. When activated, they will automatically send the GPS coordinates of the device to any number of mobile devices or computers. Depending on the device type and model, the recipients will also receive a google maps image with the coordinates so the recipients know exactly where the person in distress is located.
The theory behind these devices is sound and they do have real-world applications within the OH&S and security industries. For businesses that have staff visiting private residences such as banks and medical organisations, this is one easy way for staff to alert their workplace of a serious issue.
However, we need to understand that these devices do have limitations. They will not stop assaults nor will they make people safer. Contrary to claims by the product manufacturers, they will also not allow the users to live without fear, work alone, stay out later, move without limitation or lose track of time. They are an alternative method of communication, nothing more.
What also has not been considered is how a duress activation is validated or how a response would be coordinated. This would have to be decided by the organisation if and when the technology was adopted.
If these types of devices are being considered by your organisation, go in with an open mind and understand all their limitations before committing to them.