Personal safety - One device to keep you safe

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about the smartphone safety paradox. It was inspired by an event I experienced up in the Swedish mountains involving a young man who got lost in the wilderness and had to be located by the emergency services.

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From that hiking tour, I started to form a hypothesis that people’s relationship with their smartphone is becoming quite complex, especially when it comes to personal safety: that by being able to call or reach the internet at all times, consumers see less need to properly prepare before embarking on a journey. Or they become less concerned about risks in general.

During this spring, I had a chance to test my hypothesis, as I was part of conducting a study on consumers view on public safety.  The study was, however, to target people in the city, not tourists hiking in the wilderness. Still, as this behavior would emerge from being constantly connected, rather than bound to any specific interest, it thought it would not matter.

And sure enough, in our study, we learned that three out of four smartphone users have some kind of security app or function on their smartphone and that they rely on the phone if something happens. And a noticeable group also said that they are less concerned with risks and dare to do more, when they have their phone with them.


How this plays out in the city, compared to a hiking tour, might be trickier to see. But I can ask you this: Have you ever decided to meet someone without specifying time or place on beforehand? You know approximately where you want to meet. And since you know you’ll be able to reach each other, you can work out the details when on your way. How about leaving home without the wallet? Or perhaps the directions to your afternoon meeting? You can always call, chat, or use the internet if something happens, right?

Beyond our personal situation, our behaviors affect the society too. In the trends for 2016, we saw that new communication behaviors create expectations of new ways to reach emergency services. My guess is that entrusting the smartphone for personal safety will also put new demands on public safety. How can a city meet its citizens expectations and behavior? And what type of information and communication will they be expected to provide?

But this goes beyond the smartphone. In a study about wearable technology we released earlier this year, we saw that smartphone users believe wearables will move into the personal safety space. For instance with personal alarms. Given that this will happen, I am sure that the safety paradox will also include wearable technology and that our personal, connected, technology makes us feel safe, but also less concerned about potential risks.

It is very interesting to see how this will continue to develop. For these reasons, we decided to include the phenomenon into the 10 hot consumer trends for 2017. This is the smart devices safety paradox.


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