Life-saving Israeli app makes appearance at Olympics

SayVU is an innovative application that allows users to send a distress signal to an emergency call center even when their phones are locked.

A man exercises next to the Olympic rings placed at the Madureira Park ahead the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man exercises next to the Olympic rings placed at the Madureira Park ahead the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As the world looks to Brazil for Olympic games, an Israeli startup is there to improve the safety of millions.
SayVU is an application that sends a distress signal to an emergency call center from any phone, even if it is locked.
SayVU established a center in Rio, where the technology is now handling emergency and distress calls.
The company was selected as part of the Olympics’ comprehensive security network, along with Israeli firms International Security & Defense Systems and Safe City in a Box.
“We see the Olympics as a main stage for global exposure of the unique technology we developed,” SayVU CEO Amotz Koskas said.
The app cuts response time and brings assistance more rapidly from emergency services, including police, firefighters and first responders.
SayVU contacts emergency services without the user needing to open or log in to the application. When triggered, the app immediately starts to compile data using the phone’s microphone. That data then transfers a comprehensive picture of the emergency to service providers.
The app will also track and report to a predetermined list of emergency responders and family members.
The startup was founded shortly after the tragic kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youth, which sparked the 2014 Gaza war.
After realizing they were in danger, one boy dialed the police for help, but the operator thought the call was a prank and did not take it seriously.
Koskas, who was studying at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the time, was inspired to develop an application to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy.
Koskas won the “Innovation in the Public Sector” competition the next year. That contest was a joint BGU/Google venture designed to promote public-service innovation using technology, information and communications.
In Israel, a pilot program was launched for kindergartens in Ofakim, near Beersheba. One teacher used the app to alert emergency dispatchers, which eventually led to the successful apprehension of a pedophile.
Based on that initial success, the Ofakim Municipality expanded the program to encompass all its educational institutions, social workers and municipal call center. Other municipalities are now seeking to incorporate the app in their systems.
SayVU is developing technology that allows the application to learn user patterns and thereby recognize abnormal events, such as car accidents.
It then will automatically contact emergency dispatchers without the user needing to do anything.
The US and Israel announced joint development of technology designed to help first responders earlier this year.
SayVU and another Israeli startup, Optoknowledge, were awarded funds from a $1.9 million Israel-US Binational Industrial R&D Foundation investment.