Crime-fighting campaigners at Blow the Whistle have put together a virtual panic button for mobile phones which enables women and young girls to send out a distress call to friends and family by tapping their handset screen. The mobi app, which is available on Android and iOS, can also be set to send off an alert automatically if the phone owner doesn’t check in at a certain time.

After you’ve downloaded the Blow the Whistle app, you’re prompted to set it up with the names and numbers of four ‘guardians’ who you trust to respond quickly in an emergency – preferably by calling the police. If you press and hold the big red button in the middle of the app for three seconds, all guardians get an alert which is tagged with your current location.

You can also program the app with details of an up and coming journey before you leave, telling it where you’re going and how long you expect it to take. If you don’t make it to your destination on time, the guardians will receive an alert. Journey details can be changed if you’re stuck in traffic, but altering anything in the app requires a PIN code for security. It’s a neat getaround the obvious problem of other panic button apps, that pulling your phone out of your pocket and launching an app takes time you don’t have if you’re attacked.

As well as the app, supporters of the campaign can pledge money or buy a whistle to show their support. The whistle obviously also has practical value in that it will be good for warding off attackers and drawing attention to yourself if you feel threatened.

Find out more about Blow the Whistle and its app here.

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.