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Truecaller launches Guardians app, CEO explains how it is designed for personal safety

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Truecaller is using its learnings from crowdsourcing protection against spam to ensure personal safety with a new standalone app called Guardians.

“Truecaller is a product that solves the mistrust in communication. And this could be a good opportunity for us to think about this as a separate product because they are quite different but solving the same problem,” Alan Mamedi, CEO & Co-founder of True Software Scandinavia AB told indianexpress.com.

Mamedi said that with the kind of reach Truecaller has — 200 of its 270 million active users are in India — they know the problem of women’s safety well. “It’s now time to do something about making our cities safer for everyone.”

After a simple onboarding process, the app lets users select their personal Guardians from the contact list and choose when to stop/start sharing location and setup permanent sharing with selected Guardians.

While this will let the guardians know where the user is at any given point of time, in an emergency situation users can tap the emergency button to notify all of them about the location and situation. There is also the option to seek help from designated community guardians, even as Truecaller tries to onboard local law enforcement to the app.

On why this was not added as a feature in Truecaller, which already has such a large installed base, Mamedi said: “You have to have a team that runs it as if it’s their own company. And that’s why we decided to do it this way so that it doesn’t become a small part of Truecaller.”

“You know, we are talking about something that can save lives. So that’s why we believe it makes sense,” Mamedi underlined, adding that the Guardians app is a very lightweight product and won’t leave a big footprint on the device either.

Mamedi promises that no data from the app will be shared with any other app, and that includes Truecaller. “This is a purely designed product to solve a problem in society. We don’t have any plans to monetise…that is our promise.”

Mamedi says the app only requires three permissions. “One is location, the second is contacts so you can connect with your friends and your trusted network while the last one is phone permission to show the phone status to the guardians that you approve.”

Calling this search for safety is a universal problem, Mamedi said the app has been designed in such a way that a customer has full control and can designate who will be able to track or follow her when she’s on her way back home. “Everything is customisable.”

There is also forever sharing, which could come in handy if you want to ensure the safety of a child or an elderly parent. “Guardians is designed for personal safety, and that could be your sister, your mother, but also your father, your brother, your son, your daughter… like everyone you basically care about,” Mamedi added.

With forever sharing users will be able to see in real time, where their loved one is, how much battery her device has left and even the signal strength in the area,. “So if you know that the battery is starting to drop and you know it’s 20% left, and you should probably call them and say ‘hey your battery’s about to die. Maybe you should come home.’”

The Guardians app has a panic button, which once pressed will inform everyone in the designated list within five seconds. “We would be more than happy to collaborate with the different governments on these issues and that’s also how the protocols are designed,” Mamedi said. But then the concept of community guardians is for those situations when your personal contacts might not be nearby.

Developed by teams in Stockholm and India, the free to use app will be available for download on Google Play Store and the Apple App store from today.

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