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Android developer and founder of the Beacon App, Romaine Whyte.
Photo: Contributed

Founder of RWD Industries, Romaine Whyte, along with his team, has developed an advanced-proactive tracking app to help families remain updated on their loved one’s whereabouts.

The concept of the app, known as Beacon, was inspired by a need to provide an additional layer of protection in the event of an emergency such as abduction, theft or motor-vehicle accidents.

The Beacon app allows an individual and their loved ones to share their secure location 24/7 and monitor the functions of the device, such as its battery life and data usage.

It also provides access to an active distress trigger, which when activated, sends a notification to the connected parties that the individual may be in danger.

A screenshot of the Beacon App’s feature allows you to connect with your loved ones.

 

“You can send a distress signal to your loved one, a notification comes in on the connected person’s device, and it takes a picture and audio recordings of [the victim’s] surroundings and sends them back to your loved ones,” Mr. Whyte told JIS News.

Additionally, once someone is declared missing, the app will generate a missing persons’ graphic and send it to the Beacon’s social media page, to help in finding the individual.

The 26-year-old, who grew up in Kingston, says the Beacon initiative is his way of sympathising with individuals who have family members that are missing.

“To not know where they are is, honestly, terrifying to me. I wouldn’t want to experience that, ever. So many persons have, and my heart goes out to them, and we want to help as best as we can,” he shared.

According to Mr. Whyte, the app can be used anywhere in the world if there is an Internet connection and will not have a challenge in identifying Jamaican street names.

“We coded [the app] to mitigate that risk. We don’t use street names or addresses, we are actually using global positioning system (GPS) coordinates, which is the most precise way to locate anywhere on the planet,” he says.

A view of the Beacon App’s GPS location tracking feature.

 

He told JIS News that his team members, who are information technology professionals in Jamaica, work assiduously to protect the app from hackers, as well as protect users’ privacy.

“We’re not hiding what we’re doing. We have a detailed privacy document on our website and on the Google Play listing that outlines what we’re doing with the data and that it’s stored securely,” he says.

He also shares that RWD will not be able to identify participants who log onto the app. “Once you input your name, it actually sends it to our servers as hexadecimal. No one can read it,” he told JIS News.

The core functions of the app remain free, as he wanted all persons to reap its benefit. “We believe there shouldn’t be a price on one’s safety. Not because you’re from the inner city [means] you shouldn’t be able to have access to safety or security measures,” he states.

Additionally, the app provides paid features that allow you to view your loved one’s location history and activate the distress trigger with a code word that will send a notification to your loved ones.

“There is also a crash detection and ‘Beacon Lighthouse’ [which allows you to] designate a safe zone, to know when you have arrived or leave a particular location such as school or work,” he added.

The app, which has been active for six months, is the first of a list of technologies that will be under the Beacon brand. He intends to work on smartwatches and earrings that parents can use to track their toddlers.

Against that backdrop, he told JIS News that he remains open to partnerships from other stakeholders in the industry.

The Beacon app is the flagship product of RWD Industries and currently has more than 300 active users, with the majority living in Jamaica. It is available for free in the Google Play store for Android users.

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