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GPS-infused distress buttons help curb domestic violence

by GPS4US 2013-09-03 17:09

We’ve heard of dozens of ways GPS technology is helping change the world. Now, a city in Brazil is hoping a GPS-equipped panic button will help curb its disturbingly high domestic violence rate.

The city of Vitoria is testing out the panic buttons with women who have court-ordered restraining orders against their abusers. Because many abusers ignore restraining orders, the buttons will give law enforcement a better chance of helping victims.

“The worst aggression happens behind closed doors," said Vitoria Municipal Secretary of Urban Security Welington da Costa Ribeiro. "Before, we weren't able to help victims once the doors to their homes were closed, when their aggressors were their partners, ex-partners or other family members. Now we've changed that."

When pushed, the button sends a distress signal – including images of the victim and the abuser – to law enforcement. It also records ambient sound which is stored in a police database for future evidence. Further, the GPS technology allows law enforcement to help more quickly. Response times to the distress signals are between three and nine minutes.

“(My ex-partner) doesn't follow the protective measure that says he has to maintain a 500-meter distance from me," said one user of the button. "I had to leave everything behind for fear that the worst would happen. With the Panic Button, I feel safer to go back to my normal life.”

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