Even going out for a solo jog can make you vulnerable to potentially dangerous situations, especially for women. The Strava app might help.
Strava is a social network for workouts, used mostly to record long bike rides or runs, and it may even be an app you already use. Strava has a helpful feature called Beacon that shares your real-time location with whoever you choose, along with what time you started your activity, how long you’ve been active, and your phone’s battery percentage. If you set up a check-in time with your chosen friend, they’ll know when it’s time to get worried. They can then share your GPS map with the police.
However, the Beacon feature is only available if you pay $5 per month for the premium version of Strava.
An App for Recording the Police
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, and many others have only underscored that for many Americans—particularly Black Americans—there’s the very real risk of being harmed by the use of force by police. So even defaulting to apps that promise to “contact the authorities” when you’re in danger assumes a certain amount of privilege: It means your experience is such that you believe the authorities will protect you, not hurt you. But as we know, that is not everyone’s experience.
That’s where an app like Mobile Justice may be helpful. The app records your interaction with police, streaming the video to your chosen contacts and your local ACLU chapter. If you feel your rights have been violated during the interaction, you can then fill out an incident report for the ACLU with the location information, name of the police agency involved, and a detailed explanation of what happened. You’ll need cell service or Wi-Fi for the app to work, but you can record on your phone and send an incident report later if needed. The Mobile Justice app isn’t just for people who are being pulled over or treated with unnecessary force; others can use the app to record incidents they’re witness to.
We know this isn’t a perfect solution, and that even capturing concrete video evidence doesn’t necessarily mean a citizen is protected or that justice will be served if harm is done. But it is well within your rights to record interactions with law enforcement. As is outlined in the rights section of the app, officers cannot view or delete footage or confiscate your phone without a warrant; and demanding that you stop recording is against your First Amendment rights. Third parties can legally record an interaction with police and someone else, as long as they are not interfering with what’s happening or obstructing officers’ movements.